Explore Florida’s Emerald Coast Aboard the Cattywampus Catamaran and the Nathaniel Bowditch Schooner
If you’re searching for a fun way to experience Florida’s Emerald Coast from out on the water then you’ve stumbled upon the perfect interview. We recently sat down with husband and wife team Kristy and Rext Walley. Together they are the owners of Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures and Nathaniel Bowditch Sailing. Both are extremely fun cruises and a great way to spend time out on the water. We met Kristy and Captain Rex aboard the Nathaniel Bowditch in Miramar Beach and they graciously shared their story with us.
To be clear, Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures is about a 3-hour catamaran cruise that involves snorkeling, dolphin encounters, hula hoops and all kinds of fun things. They operate Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures out of Fort Walton Beach. In contrast, the Nathaniel Bowditch schooner operates out of Sandestin’s Baytowne Marina in Miramar beach. Both cruisers are fantastic and have something to offer everyone as you’ll see in our videos at the bottom of this article.
30A Prime Interview with Kristy and Rex Walley owners of Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures
30A Prime: How long have you been doing this in terms of taking people out on the water here in the Destin, Florida area?
Captain Rex: We’ve enjoyed taking people out on the Cattywampus catamaran for quite some time now. We also have another sailing schooner called the Nathaniel Bowditch and between the two of these, we’ve been offering some great outings for people that visit the Emerald Coast.
30A Prime: Please tell us about where you’re originally from and how you became a boat captain.
Captain Rex: I grew up on the Sydney Harbour in Australia learning to sail from the age of about six. So, being on boats is not unnatural for me and when I came to the Destin area 25 years ago I started a little business where I was looking after other people’s boats. But then I came upon the schooner Nathaniel Bowditch for sale and I built that boat up. At about that same time I made sort of a lifestyle change in that I decided not to work on other peoples boats anymore and shift my focus to exclusively working on my own boat.
30A Prime: What should people expect to experience on a Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures cruise?
Captain Rex: The Cattywampus catamaran cruise involves swimming, snorkeling, and picking up some shells. However, we have an eco-friendly policy in that we don’t let anyone take shells that have living creatures in them from the sea. Other than to bring one Hermit crab per child back on board the boat because a little bit later in the cruise they’re going to have a Hermit crab race. The nice thing is that those Hermit crabs actually race themselves right back into the sea so we’re returning them to their home and the kids have a lot of fun with it.
The Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures trip is a 3-hour outing in total and about an hour of it is spent swimming and snorkeling and encountering marine life. After the swim time is concluded we go out for a bit of boating activity looking for dolphins, sharks, stingrays, other marine life. Sometimes we even see a manatee or two.
The return journey to our base is when all the fun activities occur on the deck. Things like hula hooping competitions and water gun fights and the Hermit crab races so everybody has a good time. The adults can sit back and watch the children get entertained while they enjoy their food and beverage of choice in the shade and the kids are out romping in the sun on the floor deck. If people want to catch a tan they can lay out there in the sun. Or, they can avoid the sun by sitting in the shade of the awning and enjoying the breeze instead.
30A Prime: How many trips per day do you offer?
Captain Rex: During the season, the Cattywampus catamaran does 3 trips per day out of Fort Walton Beach. It’s available for 2 trips in the shoulders of the season but during the summer vacation, it’s available for 3 trips per day. Also, our sailing schooner the Nathaniel Bowditch is doing two trips per day during the summer time and that’s out of Miramar Beach.
30A Prime: Is the Cattywampus Aquatic Adventures cruise family friendly?
Kristy: We promote the idea that you can bring a baby out in a carrier that’s newborn within a couple of weeks. We’ve even had people on the Cattywampus catamaran that are in their 90’s.
Captain Rex: Yes… you’re great, great grandparents can come. People of all ages are welcome on the Cattywampus. Everyone can enjoy our cruise as we have shaded areas, we have sunlit areas on the floor deck, easy access in and out of the water so it’s very friendly for people young and old.
30A Prime: What should people bring with them on a Cattywampus Aquatic Adventure?
Kristy: You should bring a cooler with drinks and snacks. We do not sell anything onboard. A bag maybe with hats, cameras, sunglasses, and towels.
30A Prime: Based on your online reviews it sounds like you have a great crew working for you.
Kristy: We absolutely love our crew and the people that work for us. Our captain for the Cattywampus (Captain Tony) has been with us for 10 years and we are grateful and love his service and everything he does to maintain the boats. We simply could not do it without Tony.
Captain Tony: My name is Tony and I’m Captain of the Cattywampus and this is my First Mate Daniel. We basically just focus on having a good time working on the Cattywampus. We enjoy taking people snorkeling and dolphin cruising. We do all kinds of fun activities from water fights to Hermit crab races to Hula hoops and more.
Daniel: Every trip is a little different. You just never know what fun things will happen but they always do.
Captain Tony: At night the Cattywampus turns into a disco party. We have all kinds of laser lights and we have a disco ball and we put on some pretty entertaining music for people to dance to.
Daniel: A couple of weeks ago we were snorkeling and between us and the beach we saw a fin pop up and realized there was a pod of dolphins swimming around us and the boat. Everybody was a little surprised and excited by how close they were to us.
30A Prime: In terms of snorkeling gear, do we need to bring anything or is that supplied?
Captain Tony: We provide all of the snorkeling equipment. We get off the boat in waist-deep water so you don’t need fins or anything like that. You can bring your own gear if you’d like but we do have pretty much all the latest, best snorkeling equipment available for our guests to enjoy.
Another fun thing we like to do is let the kids drive the boat. We actually let them get behind the wheel and steer the boat. Moreover, it’s not a dummy wheel… It’s actually the wheel that turns the boat and so with the Captain’s supervision, they get to drive the boat for a little while if they want to.
Captain Rex: Well we’d like to invite everybody that comes to Florida’s Emerald Coast to come out and experience snorkeling, swimming, and fun activities that happen aboard the Cattywampus.