Category Archives: General

Artists for an Oil Free Coast, 2012

One of the pleasures of running a small business is flexibility. Here is an example from last Fall.

We often run artist’s painting workshops and we were scheduled to run a tour with Mark Hobson in the Great Bear Rainforest in late June. But when Mark was visiting us for a musical event in the Fall, he proposed the idea of trying to launch a book of local artists who felt strong opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. Mark had, in the past, been a major participant in creating the very successful book “Carmanah: Artistic Visions of an Ancient Rainforest” which greatly raised the profile and eventual protection of these giant spruce trees.

So the idea was born, Art for an Oil Free Coast, but Mark needed a platform for the artists. . . .

“Well, Mark, if you forfeit your six day tour, we will donate the Columbia III for the project during that time period, as all our other dates are already booked with guests.”

We called a few participants whom had already signed on for Mark’s workshop and explained the situation and they gracefully withdrew. Thus the project evolved around the dates of Mark’s original tour with us. Soon, with huge effort and commitment from Mark, the project grew.  Rain Coast Conservation Foundation joined the team to assist in fundraising and organization and soon other Great Bear operators were offering space for artisans at their lodges, institutes and vessels.

On the first day of the actual expedition, over 30 artists met in Bella Bella and had sandwiches aboard the Columbia III and Raincoast Conservation’s research vessel, Achiever. (shown alongside below). Brian Falconer was skippering the Achiever.

Here’s Mark Hobson co-ordinating, visiting, thanking and organizing the first day.

And as we left harbour the artists set right to work, capturing their unique impressions of the vast wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest.

David McEown painting from the aft deck of the COLUMBIA III

David McEown blog


We travelled together for  5 nights: fjords, granite cliffs, lower wind-swept outer islands. Bears and lupins. Here, David McEown works.



As a small family business, we often don’t have the cash to “donate” to worthy causes, but we can offer the COLUMBIA III, our time, a great boat, a dash of wine, and unparalleled access to wonderful places.The finished book will be touring Canada this fall. Check the website for book orders and a schedule of book launches

Gotta love Computers

We are a really small, family run business and we all wear a wide variety of “hats” running this business. From Transport Canada permits to scrubbing the bilge in the engine room, from talking to travel agents in Australia to trying to find a coffee maker that will fit in our galley there are innumerable tasks we take on. A few tasks exceed our skill set and these are mainly legal, accounting services and, you guessed it, computers. Even in our little outfit we have our share of computational issues. (You all know what I am talking about: an upgraded operating system that won’t recognize our 3 printers . . . you know the kid of fun I mean!) From the very start of Mothership Adventures, our good family friend and conveniently COMPUTER GURU, Dave has kept our machines and website sailing smoothly. Dave is not afraid of late night emergency phone calls and even the annual house call. With 2 office computers, 2 ship’s computers, and personal computers, our living room looked more like a laptop display area. Here Dave is untangling our binary rat’s nests.

Thank you, Dave, for all the tireless, hard work. We couldn’t survive without you.


Oh my gosh! these blogs can get out of hand! I seem to barely turn around and the last entry is too long ago and I need to make another entry. Our summer is just a little bit busy with all the comings and goings of crew and provisions and guests such that the blog slips well down the “to-do” list.
Here is a smattering of photos from our 2011 season. Miray has loaded up the usual gallery with photos from this summer and as usual, the BC coast has been very generous with her wildlife! This was our family’s seventh season running the mothership and really, just between you and me, it is just such an amazing coast and the Columbia III is such a comfortable and beautiful boat to be on that I still pinch myself. How lucky I am, how lucky our family is. Great guests, great boat, great coast. As a friend pointed out, “Ross, you’ve got a poor excuse for a job!”.

Here our son-in-law, Luke is skippering . . . another tough day in the office.

Ace guide and family friend (and a total perfectionist when it comes to the perfect varnish finish!!) Steve

Not bad, Don, but you forgot to paint the Columbia III in the foreground.

Robert Genn workshop

Robert Genn is “heavy hitter” in the artist’s world, so its fun to have him paint straight into our guest log book.

Jeannette Taylor joins us every year as resident historian and story teller. Here she’s checking her notes.

You see a young woman posing on Mitlenatch Island in the middle of the Salish Sea. I see Farlyn, our daughter. the youngest woman on the coast to have her Limited Master’s skipper papers for the Columbia III.

A quiet moment running up Johnston Straits

Mom! there’s a bear on the beach. Here, look!!

Lillian Hunt joined us again for our First Nation’s cultural tour.

One of the most amazing sights of the summer and perhaps of my BC Coast life was a transient Orca kill of a Pacific Whitesided dolphin. We had a group of whitesides following us down Johnston Strait when all of a sudden they ALL lept clear of the water simultaneously and raced away at a truly unbelievable speed with every dolphin spending as little time as possible IN THE WATER!

It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. Luke captured the Orca in very hot pursuit. There must be some advantage to being in the air when attacking because the orca kept leaping out of the water over and over and twisting and diving in pursuit! All the guests ( and crew!) were exclaiming loudly as the chase evolved. As this was the first day of this particular tour it took some explaining to the new guests that this was not a common occurrence and they were very, very fortunate to have witnesses such a moment. I have been on the coast 50+ years and it was my first close hand view of Orca kill.

We don’t get a lot of kids on the mothership but our family ( being a family!) love kids and the world viewed through fresh young eyes is such a wonderful reminder for us all.

I know it can’t be true but it sure seems like we have a birthday celebrated on every tour of the summer and sometimes 3! We are always up for another cake and we keep the ship’s stores well stocked with candles.

I know our regular gallery has lots of Spirit Bear photos, so I only threw one in here. But it was a really, really good year for bear viewing. As skipper I usually stay with the mothership and most guests have seem more Spirit Bears than I have . .. but this year I was in the right place at the right time (with a little help from our Gitga’at guides!!) and I saw 3 Spirit Bears and 3 black bears simultaneously!!!!