Island Packers Celebrates 50 Years of Connecting People
to the Channel Islands
Founded in 1968, the official Channel Islands National Park Concessionaire
offers contests, discounts and more
Island Packers, a Ventura institution and longtime concessionairr to Channel Islands National Park, celebrates its 50th year of providing transportation for education, recreation and research support for California’s Channel Islands this year.
Fifty years ago, Bill Connally, founder of Island Packers, was inspired with a vision to share the wonders of the Channel Islands by providing excursions to these remote offshore islands. Early dreams of starting a backpack mule station in the High Sierra evolved into the idea of “backpacking people” to the Channel Islands when he bought his first vessel, a World War II vintage converted navy launch.
To realize his vision, the fondly remembered family patriarch enlisted the help of his wife Lil and their four children. The family christened the vessel Island Packer on Mother’s Day in 1968. Early excursions took visitors out on weekends to Anacapa Island for $7.50 per person. Today, Island Packers has grown into a four-vessel fleet including three fast catamarans capable of providing transportation for hundreds of people daily and making landings at multiple islands. Instead of just one trip per day on weekends, they now offer daily, year-round service to the islands, which often include multiple channel crossings to several island destinations. In the early days, Island Packers took out less than 5,000 hearty passengers per year, whereas today they transport about 100,000 passengers annually on a modern, Eco-friendly fleet.
Since its inception the business has always been a family tradition and is currently operated by three generations. Today, Island Packers is managed by siblings Mark Connally as company president and Cherryl Connally as vice president and marketing director. Lil Connally is retired but sits on the board and Jason Wendel (Cherryl ’s son) is a boat captain. Longstanding employee-turned-partner Alex Brodie serves as fleet manager.
The experiences Island Packers offers provide opportunities for the public to learn about the islands and the local marine environment. Since 1969, they have been committed to educating school children and youth groups through their “floating classroom” field trips. Island Packers provides safe, reliable and educational boat transportation for people who want to enjoy, learn, and perform research on California’s Channel Islands. For 50 years they have treated their employees as family, acted as stewards of the environment, strived to provide outstanding customer service, and constantly improved their operations by utilizing the best practices and technology available. In recognition and celebration of their 50th year in business, Island Packers will be offering several special events to commemorate their achievement and say thank you to their community and loyal customers.
During the month of May, their anniversary month, Island Packers will enter passengers traveling during the month into contention for the “Golden Ticket.” This Grand Prize will be awarded to a lucky traveler, chosen randomly, who will win trips for 4 to all the Islands that Island Packers visits – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel.
Additionally, from May through the end of the year, Island Packers will operate a social media contest for their followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, rewarding those who post the best pictures or island memories with island trips weekly.
On select days in the fall season, Island Packers will commemorate their 50 years with several $50 fare promotions. Day trips to Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Rosa Islands, as well as “2 for $50” fares for their Island Wildlife Cruises will be offered. Visit the Island Packers website for updates and specific dates.
For the month of November 2018, Island Packers will offer a day trip discount per adult fare for Santa Rosa Island, observing 50 years with $50 fares, up to four fares per customer. Not valid for group reservations or any other discount.
Island Packers will also be hosting a charity Harbor Cruise on Saturday Oct. 12th, open to the public, and will donate all proceeds to a local charity.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visit islandpackers.com for up to date listings of all our trips.