I met Captain Eric Olsen (Cap), captain and owner of the Alaska yacht MIDNIGHT SUN, nearly a decade ago while he was captain aboard MIST COVE. I was immediately impressed with his calm and patient demeanor while he managed a crew of 12 and juggled the demands of 24 guests for one of their first weeks of the summer season aboard the beautifully restored, classic minesweeper. Cap never tired of my continuous questions as I sat in the wheelhouse with him at the helm, which I considered the best vantage point on the vessel. He may have reconsidered the open-wheelhouse policy after my week of constant badgering.
Cap and I have remained close over the years, as he continued working as captain on a variety of different Alaska luxury yachts and small ships. A born and raised Alaskan, Eric has over four decades of experience working on the waters of Alaska, and he loves sharing the best of his home state with our guests.
We reached out to Cap with some questions reviewing highlights from the 2022 season and looking ahead to the upcoming Alaska yacht charter season starting in May 2023.
EB: Share a few highlights with us from the past Alaska yacht season (favorite moments with guests, best wildlife encounters)?
Cap: Witnessing humpback whale bubble-net feeding is just so incredible. In the calm fjords you can see the bubbles develop and when we drop the hydrophone and we can hear the whales communicating with each other while they are synchronizing their feeding, it’s just such an amazing, interactive experience.
My other favorite, I have to laugh everytime I think about it, but my first trip of the year was with a family of Maine lobster-fisherfolks. They had 7 & 9 year old sons join them and the 9 year old hooked a 100lb halibut. I helped him lift the rod up while he reeled. He was just ecstatic.
EB: MIDNIGHT SUN is currently in Port Townsend, WA and out of the water, correct? What are your plans for the winter for her?
Cap: Yes. We’re still in Port Townsend. Basically, it’s getting her in the best condition I can for the upcoming season. I have a friend who keeps pushing me to do something with her for the winter in warmer climes, but the vessel is purposefully built for Alaska, so the off-season is spent putting her in the best shape for the summer. New mattresses, carpeting, hull-work – focusing on making her comfortable and enjoyable.
EB: What’s your favorite time of year to be on the water in Southeast Alaska and the Inside Passage?
Cap: As you know Greg, I was born in Alaska and I’m not living there year round now. So the time I leave the port in Washington and get into Alaskan waters is the best time. What I’ve done for the past 40 years has been such an amazing life gift. I wouldn’t give a day back.
EB: What location or wildlife encounter in Southeast Alaska impresses even the most well-traveled guest?
Cap: The bubble-netting experience is just about the top, but Dall’s Porpoise hold a special place in my heart- they actively approach the yacht and interact with guests. That makes Dall’s Porpoise and the experiences with them very unique and special.
EB: I know you spent a bit of time in Costa Rica last winter. Are you planning on heading south again?
Cap: At this point, no plans, I’ve been so focused on the boat. My dad is 92 and I’m going to spend some time with him in Southern California. My brother also lives down there and has an older restored Jaguar convertible that I’m going to drive up the coast and visit with some of our charter guests from 2022 that have now become friends. A trip to Central America may be a last minute Spring decision.
EB: What are you looking forward to for the upcoming summer Alaska yacht season in 2023?
Cap: Well this may be a little bit of a surprise to you, but you know how hard it is to find quality crew? I’m really looking forward to Katie and Adam coming back for the coming season. They are incredible to work with, and the guests adore them.
EB: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
Cap: Having done this for 40 years I still get excited every year, and I love what I do. I love introducing new people to our environment and region so they can witness the incredible landspace, wildlife and wilderness.
Thanks so much to Cap for taking the time to chat with us. If a trip aboard MIDNIGHT SUN is of interest for 2023, contact us for possibilities at any time. We look forward to seeing you in Alaska!