Island Packers celebrates 50 years of serving the islands

The Island Packer family was presented commemorative plaque celebrating 50 years. Photo by Samantha Crisp

Island Packers celebrated its 50th year of providing transportation, education and research support for Channel Islands National Park on Saturday, May 12 at the Channel Islands National Park Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center located in the Ventura Harbor.

The celebration included food from Harbor restaurants and inspirational and historical speeches for the over 200 who attended.

Fifty years ago Bill Connally, co-founder of Island Packers, had a dream to share the beauty of the Channel Islands by providing excursions to the islands. To do this he bought a World War II vintage converted navy boat. The family christened the vessel Island Packer on Mother’s Day in 1968.

Island Packers continues to be a family tradition run by three generations. Island Packers is managed by siblings Mark Connally as company president, Cherryl Connally as vice president and marketing director. Lil Connally is retired but still consults the business, Jason Wendel (Cherryl ’s son) is a boat captain. Longtime employee-turned-partner Alex Brodie is the fleet manager.

In 2001 they purchased their first 145-person catamaran, 2 years later, they added another and in 2013, they added still another.

Island Packers provides opportunities for the public to learn about the islands, whales and marine life. They have been educating school children and youth groups through their “floating classroom” field trips since 1998.

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