VENTURA, Calif. - To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Island Packers is running at 40 percent normal capacity.
By limiting the number of people on board during day trips to the Channel Islands National Park and whale watching excursions, passengers can practice physical distancing.
Captain Alex Brodie said, "For safety, be prepared to wear a mask while you're on the boat, the good news is it is a relatively short trip. We practice social distancing on board, and we tell people not be shy. If they don't feel comfortable somewhere, they should let somebody know."
On a recent trip from their dock in the Ventura Harbor to Santa Cruz Island's Prisoners Harbor, the crew sanitized the boat every 15 to 20 minutes.
Over the intercom, Captain Alex Brodie said, "Until infection rates go down, we need to observe a whole bunch of these different protocols so that we are allowed to operate during this here pandemic thing."
Once on the island, visitors with campsite reservations can stay overnight, others spend a few hours hiking, kayaking and snorkeling before getting back on the vessel.
If passengers misplace their masks, Island Packers will give them new ones for the return trip.
The crew keeps a count of whale, dolphin and other wildlife sightings during their voyages.
If anyone spots a whale spout, the captain will slow down to allow visitors to take a look at a safe speed and distance.
They also stop to pick up mylar balloons out of the water, which can harm ocean life.
Island Packers follows county, state and federal rules.
"A lot of hoops to jump through, but you know everyone has been really cooperative," said Brodie.
Brodie and his crew appear to love what they do.
"You get a chance to share our backyard, it is a beautiful spot."
With limited space due to the pandemic, some trips have waiting lists.
For information or to reserve a trip, visit www.islandpackers.com.