Island Packers celebrates 50 years of connecting people to the Channel Islands

Island Packers, a Ventura institution and longtime concessioner to Channel Islands National Park, is currently celebrating its 50th year of providing transportation, education and research support for California’s Channel Islands. Plans to mark the momentous occasion are currently underway.

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 pack station in the High Sierra evolved into the idea of “packing people” to the Channel Islands when he bought his first vessel, a World War II vintage converted navy launch Island Packer.

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.

Since its inception the business has always been a family tradition, 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 secretary and retired but consults the business, 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.

During the month of May, their anniversary month, Island Packers will offer 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.

From May through the end of the year, Island Packers will operate a coordinated social media contest that rewards followers who post the best picture or island memory with island trips.

On select days in the fall season, Island Packers will celebrate 50 years with several $ 50 fare promotions. Day trips to Santa Cruz, Anacapa and Santa Rosa Islands, as well as “2 for $ 50” fare for Island Wildlife Cruises will be offered. Stay tuned and check our website updates for the specific dates.

For the month of November of this year, Island Packers will offer 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.

To wrap up this significant year, and in appreciation of our mutual collaboration, Island Packers will offer an evening Harbor Cruise for our local business partners on Wednesday Oct. 3rd.

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 them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and visit for up to date listing of all trips.

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