Ventura Inspiration Guide 2019 - 44

THE VIBE

ISLAND PACKERS

F

ifty years ago, a larger-than-life man had a larger-thanlife dream. Bill Connally had a passion for wild places
and wanted to provide service from the mainland to the
remarkable Channel Islands National Park and Marine Sanctuary.
Dream became (rough) reality on Mother's Day 1968, when
the Island Packer, a restored fishing boat, ferried a handful
of passengers out to Anacapa Island. Establishing the
company calling card from the outset, the boat was restored
by Connally friends and family: father Bill, mother Lil, and
youngsters Mark, Kirk, Brad, and 11-year-old Cherryl.
"They put me in the head," says Cherryl. "Here's a torch and
here's a scraper. Go at it."
And the Connally family did, sailing through calm and storm
(figuratively and literally). Sunsets came and went. Faces
came and went. Boats came and went (one was scuttled off

Santa Barbara. Last year, when floods in Montecito cut off
the freeway, the Connallys did it again, working around the
clock for ten days to get 3,000 people where they needed
to go. These efforts weren't money makers, and that wasn't
the intent. A family can be a community. And a community
can be a family.
"What a great business," smiles Cherryl. "Imagine.
Taking people out to an island."

IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT OUR
DAD, SO WE COULDN'T GIVE
IT UP. HE HAD THIS DREAM.
WE THOUGHT HE WAS CRAZY,
BUT HE WAS RIGHT.
Anacapa; one was retired to a local beanfield.) Profits and
losses came and went. But behind it all, there was always a
voice. Bill Connally died in 1987, but he never left.
"It was always about our dad, so we couldn't give up,"
says Cherryl. "He had this dream. We thought he was crazy,
but he was right."
The operation now includes the Connallys, four fast sleek
boats, 60-some employees and, quite literally, thousands of
happy campers. And the warm pulse of the company is
always at the forefront. Even in the hospital, Bill Connally
was giving away free rides. When mudslides threatened
La Conchita in 2006, cutting off the freeway north of
Ventura, the Connallys set up a shuttle service to and from

44

CHANNEL ISLANDS ADVENTURE COMPANY
Offering professionally guided and outfitted kayaking and snorkeling
tours of Channel Islands National Park. Kayak sea caves, snorkel kelp
forests, camp, and hike North America's Galapagos.
islandkayaking.com
ciadventure
islandkayaking

@VISITVENTURA


http://www.islandkayaking.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Ventura Inspiration Guide 2019

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