Out to Sea Expedition Company
Ketchikan’s Go-to for Ketchikan’s go-to for Marine Expeditions & Outdoor Gear
Let’s go Out to Sea
Founded in 2019 by Ketchikan locals Eric Lunde and Delaney Murphy, Out to Sea Expedition Company’s mission is to explore our world with an adventurous spirit in a sustainable way. The independent tour operators specializing in guided wildlife eco-tours and custom outdoor expeditions use fully inflatable Zodiacs to explore the stunning and reinvigorating waters surrounding Ketchikan.
Inspired by their mutual love for the pristine wilderness and wildness of Alaska, the couple wanted to find a way to share their beautiful home with visitors from around the world in a way that is both responsible and authentically Alaskan. The outdoor adventure company was established with the belief that people can have fun and explore the world while also being good stewards of the environment and the local community. Out to Sea Expedition Company strives to be economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable, and avoid creating negative impacts wherever possible. In addition to their partnership with industry and community organizations, Out to Sea Expedition Company is also a member of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of all sales to the research and conservation efforts of Audubon Alaska.
Creativity during COVID-19
For Out to Sea Expedition Company, the spring of 2020 was busy in preparation for their first full season of operation, but on March 13th, Canada announced the closure of their ports to large cruise ships and everything changed. “We were excited,” says Murphy, “We had bookings, we were conducting interviews for hiring crew, everything was falling into place, and then in a matter of weeks, we went from expecting 1.4 million visitors to wondering if we would even see a cruise ship this summer”. The pair quickly realized they would need to adapt their business model, which relied heavily on tourism, and began working on Out to Sea Gear. “We always planned to add a retail component to our business,” says Lunde “ we just didn’t plan for that to happen our first year!”
After facing COVID-19 related supply chain challenges, Out to Sea Expedition Company launched their online outdoor gear shop on May 24th and followed with their physical location opening June 10th on historic Thomas Street in beautiful downtown Ketchikan. The shop space, originally set up as the hospitality and outfitting location for their tours and expeditions, now doubles as a specialty outdoor gear store offering name brand outdoor equipment, made in Alaska products, outdoor-inspired gifts, and gear rentals.
While downtown Ketchikan is still very quiet this season, Lunde and Murphy enjoy outfitting locals for their summer adventures and “staycations” and have even managed to run a few tours with a special evening wildlife expedition geared towards residents and independent travelers.
Navigating Rough Waters
With the help of the Alaska Small Business Development Center (Alaska SBDC) Ketchikan Business Advisor, Shelly Hill, Out to Sea Expedition Company continues to work through a challenging time with the hope that tourism will return to Southeast Alaska as early as next summer. “We understood that as a new small business we would not have access to as much pandemic relief funding, but Shelly helped us navigate the programs that were available to us, and answered our questions throughout the process,” said owners Lunde and Murphy, “we plan to continue working with Shelly as we update our business plan, and look towards the future of our company, a future that will hopefully include both our outdoor gear shop and many more tours & expeditions.”
Murphy says they are grateful for the assistance and understanding of the Alaska SBDC, “every small business is someone’s dream, and sure, while we didn’t exactly expect a global pandemic to effectively shut down our industry during our first year of operation, we know there will always be challenges, but having organizations that provide guidance and support are crucial to weathering the storms and turning dreams into a real business.”