This season we are welcoming an exciting new addition to the fleet: the Spirit of Matushka, a brand-new, custom-built 87 foot high-speed catamaran. The boat’s name celebrates one of the beloved orcas that frequents Kenai Fjords National Park throughout the season. The Spirit of Matushka was specially-designed to give passengers the best viewing experience possible. The bow of the vessel is built with stadium-style standing areas for optimum wildlife viewing, a first for Alaskan whale watching vessels. Additionally, the third deck of the vessel has unobstructed 360 degree views and is partially enclosed to block the wind while still enjoying the outdoor seating. Spirit of Matushka passengers will have a unique, unforgettable viewing experience of the area’s glaciers, scenery, and wildlife. The vessel will also have ample outside viewing space on the first deck, which is also fully wrap-around wheelchair accessible deck.
This 150 passenger hydrofoil-assisted catamaran will cruise at 28 knots, making it the fastest, most fuel-efficient vessel in the fleet. The vessel is 87 feet long with quad Hamilton waterjets powered by Scania DI16 082 engines. The design includes a custom hull shape for passenger comfort with a cushioning effect when encountering waves. In designing and building the boat, fuel economy was a top priority. The vessel consumes approximately the same fuel per nautical mile through the cruising speed range of 20 to 30 knots.
All American Marine, a company based in Bellingham, Washington, built the Spirit of Matushka and has extensive experience with vessels made for Alaskan waters. The semi-displacement catamaran hull for this vessel was developed by Teknicraft Design in Aukland, New Zealand. The design integrates the signature Teknicraft symmetrical and asymmetrical combined hull shape, bow wave piercer, and innovative hydrofoil system. The journey from Bellingham to Seward will take 7-10 days and will cover 1300 nautical miles, amounting to 50-60 driving hours. The vessel will hug the coast on its journey north, traveling by day and stopping at several ports along the way. Major Marine Tours will welcome the Spirit of Matushka to the Seward Small Boat Harbor by the end of the month.
The boat is named after Matushka, or AT109, a well-known matriarch killer whale of the Gulf of Alaska transients. She was first documented by the North Gulf Oceanic Society in 1987, and is likely at least 45 years old. Over the years this group of orcas has frequented the water of Kenai Fjords hunting Steller Sea Lions. ‘Matushka’ is Russian for mother, and is also the name of the largest island in the Chiswells part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Regure. Captain Nicole had an integral part in naming the vessel. “Coming up with the name of a new boat is a daunting task. We wanted to find a way to honor the area that this boat would call home: Kenai Fjords National Park. After many creative and not so creative names were discarded, we cam up with the Spirit of Matushka. We already have a boat in our fleet named the Spirit of Adventure and while we all love adventure, as it often is in the Gulf of Alaska, we wanted a name more specific to our region. The word Matushka stuck with us because it has so many meanings. With all of the meanings with the word ‘matushka’ working so well to represent our area, history, and unique wildlife viewing opportunities, we felt that the name Spirit of Matushka brought everything full circle.”