SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Channel Islands Expeditions has now begun to launch the Truth and Vision from the Santa Barbara harbor for dive trips after working for months to make changes and improvements.
Both vessels launch out of Sea Landing, the long-time dock for several well-known boats used in whale watching, fishing and dive trips.
Operators of Channel Island Expeditions say they have made several safety upgrades and procedural changes since taking over, following a purchase from the prior owner Glen Fritzler of Santa Barbara who owns Truth Aquatics.
The Channel Islands Expeditions Owners are Joel Mulder and Garrett Kababik.
Mulder says, "it is an opportunity to take people out to experience a share of these islands. This is one of the most remarkable places in the world."
They call it a dream come true for anyone who leaves the land and goes in to this unique environment just off the Ventura and Santa Barbara coast.
Kababik said those on board are "also out there with educators, guides, professionals, a safe experience " and also a very educational experience.
The vessels operate out of Sea Landing, and, after the Conception disaster that took 34 lives, under a previous ownership, they wanted to get the public safely back on the water.
Kababik is also very interested in helping school programs. "The opportunity to teach kids, to teach adults about marine ecology and marine systems that's where our passion sits. To stop running these boats, it would be a terrible disservice."
The Vision has upgrades including four ways out from the bunk room, instead of two.
Everyone also goes through a safety briefing and a drill before the boats leave the docks. All the life rafts and vests are easily accessible.
Mulder said, "in that drill the passengers go down to the bunk room stand next to their bunk and we do a fake drill. We point out our newer escape hatches, they gather on the back deck they don their life jackets and wait further instructions from the Captain."
The safety plan is certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and the owners say they designed it to exceed what was required. "We've implemented a safety management system which is an operation and protocol system for the whole crew, the captains and the whole boat. We have a crew member on watch at all times at night and all day."
There is a special cabinet for electronics, especially the lithium ion batteries.
It's specially made to control and contain electrical fires if one breaks out. Mulder said it "locks down in the event of a fire, sounds an alarm, has its own fire suppression and shuts off ventilation. So any issues are contained in there and the whole boat is notified."
There is also a fire alarm system that sets off alarms in all areas, something that wasn't in place before, and next to the Captain is a control box to identify the problem area.
With all that in place, the two boats are now heading out to memorable adventures at the Channel Islands and other areas of Southern California waters including Catalina Island.
Channel Island Expeditions is operating dive, snorkel and kayak trips.