Monthly Archives: November 2012

Save the Heart of Quadra Parks

There are two small marine parks on Quadra Island near our home but they have been separated for years by a parcel of private land owned by a logging company. The local community has been wanting to preserve this entire area to no avail. Finally, the logging company said enough. If the community didn’t raise the cash SOON! the trees were getting cut. So a movement began and somehow in all the fundraising, the idea was spawned that if a person donated $1000.00 they would join the “Thousand Dollar Club” an honour that included a free one day tour of the area aboard . . .  you guessed it, the COLUMBIA III. The idea worked so well, people were calling and asking how they could sign up for  their “free tour” on the COLUMBIA III.

Thus, shortly after we finally got home from our summer season we were back  out with 44 guests for two days running seeing the sights, including the hopefully soon to be protected Octopus Islands/Waiatt Bay corridor to Small Inlet Marine Park. There was even a short TV news piece on the tours

The indefatigable Jeanette Taylor helped to organize the 44 donors for the park purchase and all we had to do was show up at the right time at the right place and start serving tea and coffee. Now that is something I know how to do!

I labeled this as “skipper  in training” but a good skipper has to learn how to be at home working in the galley sink. Here, grandson Theo, is already learning the fine art of galley duty whilst catering to the local philanthropist group

Great Bear Rainforest 2012

This is just a “classic” Great Bear story. Graeme below, traveled from Scotland to join us and on the very first night, during introductions, when all the guests are asked if there was anything in particular they hope to see or do on their tour, Graeme let everyone know that he really, REALLY wanted to see a wolf. Howling! We all thought, “Wow. Great hope, but come now, that is a pretty tall order.”Scots man in the Great Bear Rainforest

The 10 day kayaking tour moved from one day to the next. We saw whales, black bears, grizzly bears and even a spirit bear, but no wolves. The weather was awesome, the paddling perfect, the company excellent . . .  but no wolves. No wolves howling unseen or seen. On the last full day we had our final dinner together toasting our good fortune. Accolades all round. But no wolves. We had to pull anchor the next morning by 9am to reach the out bound plane from Bella Bella.

So our intrepid guides had one last idea. We ran to a “bay” we “knew about” and dropped the anchor for the night. All the guests were given the plan and went to bed. At 0600 everyone was up and getting dressed in shore gear. Coffee and tea were ready early and everyone headed out in the dusk in the skiff, bundled up with toques and binoculars. . . .

And they quietly slipped into a grassy estuary, the smell of decaying salmon in the air and Luke pointed to everyone very quietly.  . . .  3 wolves in the grass!!!! and everyone readied their cameras and binoculars and then one wolf calmly tilted his head back . . .  and began to HOWL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Needless to say, as I was pulling the anchor, the engine on the mothership ready to depart for the plane in 11/2 hours, the guests returned to the Columbia III with eyes the size of saucers and totally excited . . . .

Now that was a treat!

This fall we had the most spectacular weather! The waterfalls weren’t as vigorous but we weren’t going to complain. Day after day was gorgeous and the crew spent most of our time exclaiming over and over , “This is really, unusually good weather for this rainforest.”Calm anchorage, Seaforth Channel area, Mothership Adventures

It is easy to tell when there is wildlife around, check out the waiting arsenal on the chart table.

One of the narrower passages the COLUMBIA III transits is called, Rait Narrows. It is always fun to sneak through the narrow, cedar overhanging pass just up ahead in this photo.

Skipper, guide, oceanic sailor, son: Tavish

Robin slacking off, again. . .  “Floggings will continue until moral improves . . .”

And the BEAR in Great Bear rainforest . . .

I know they are just white, black bears but really, there is something so cool about these rare, rare animals.

Here is a fun story: One of our guides, Steve, has a great deal of bear guiding experience on the BC coast and in Hudson’s Bay with polar bears.  This summer he told a funny story. He had a group of mothership guests in a estuary watching two grizzlies foraging for salmon. “I told the guests that the two bears looked like semi-mature siblings, probably both males,” . . . and we watched them feeding for quite awhile. Then abruptly, one sat down and began to nurse the other . . . .  .” Sooooo, I guess they aren’t both males . . . !” A guide can’t always be right!Nursing grizzly momma Canada

Being a top-notch kayak guide has its downsides. The stress: the great vistas, ridiculously good food in fabulous settings, pleasant company with worldly guests, and of course, excessive wildlife view can cause even a young, resilient woman to go, well . . . just a little off. Here our guide, Robin, is working through a few issues on her portable trainer. It fits nicely on the back of her kayak for ease of access.

Here is a group that chartered the mothership for a kayaking tour in the Broughton in 2010 and they joined us in the Great Bear this summer. Here is a quote from the guest-log from this group . . . “Wow, what a super adventure, AGAIN! Thank you to this very special crew that has yet again made such a great impact on my travels and as always have/give such TLC always!! Tav, Farlyn, Steve, Robin what a wonderful time! I certainly hope to be back and experience yet another trip. Take care and all the very best for health and happiness. Big hugs, Stella”

Three friends whom have taken many trips together joined us this summer and now they are inquiring about chartering the whole boat for a week in 2013. Many of  our tours fill as charters with returning guests and a boat load of friends.

The humpback population is steadily increasing and on several occaisions we found groups of more than 50 humpbacks in the same area.

A classic coastal scene . . .

A little blurry, but I have a secret air raid siren mounted on the roof of the COLUMBIA III, and if a guest is being a bit cheeky, I just give the siren a toggle! Discipline is re-established!!

Cameras and binoculars. Two very common accessories on the mothership. We keep at least 6 spare pair of binos in the wheel house for quick access and we keep spare DVDs so guests can off-load their full camera memory cards. It just might have something to do with how much guests get to see from the mothership.


The rainforest grows trees. Big trees.  Here a western red cedar captures a group’s amazement.

A wonderful First Nation petroglyph near Bella Bella.

Although we had a wonderful run of good weather this fall, a couple of days of hard rain on the steep granite fjords of the Great Bear Rainforest still makes for intimidating waterfalls, especially if you approach them by kayak.

Here skipper, guide, naturalist, son-in-law, Luke pauses near the end of our Great Bear season, near the end of our 2012 mothership season. Again, the British Columbia coast has been ridiculously good to us. Just check out the 2012 photo gallery if you have any doubts about the richness of this coast. No single guest or crew gets to see everything. One group might have a stupendous encounter with white-sided dolphins and awesome bear viewing and another group might stumble onto a bunch of humpback whales lunge feeding. But everyone sees more than enough and  the crew is always tantalized along, peering around the next point just ahead, “Now what does this splendid coast have in store for us today. This week, This season.”Skipper Luke surveys his dominion

Another wonderful, safe and viable season.

Thanks to all our guests, hard working crew, the COLUMBIA III and of course, the BC Coast.

Coastal kids

Ok, ok, they are now in their twenties and even close to 30 years old AND Miray has started a family AND I am now a grandfather, but they are still “kids” right. Anyhow, as I have been going over some of the summer photos I came across a few of the “kids” and thought I would toss some in here.

Our kids, Tavish, Farlyn and Miray, have grown up on this coast and their connection to it keeps evolving and expanding. Collectively they have worked as crew for Raincoast Conservation, Pacific Wild, and Alexandra Morton and at any one time someone is doing something to assist in a conservation effort on the coast. This summer, Miray and our new grandson, Theo, flew up to spend time in the Great Bear. Simultaneously, Tavish had a week off from Mothership Adventures and spent the time helping Ian McAllister of Pacific Wild set up some remote hydrophones for listening to whales in the Great Bear area around Bella Bella. And, just for good measure, Farlyn and her partner, Jody, where staying with Ian and Karen, as they were in the area doing research for Alexandra Morton . It became a sibling reunion, ( as if a family this close really needs a reunion!) in the Great Bear.

Ian, Miray and Theo

Farlyn and Jody doing ground truthing with wild salmon

Farlyn takes careful notes.


Last spring, Tavish, Farlyn and Jody sailed Ian’s new 47′ sailboat (“Habitat”) from Costa Rica to Hawaii to British Columbia as a ‘delivery” for Ian. Here, skipper Tavish plays with nephew, Theo on the Habitat in the Great Bear.

Jody and wild Pacific Salmon are never far apart!!

Ian was installing a network of remote hydrophones in the Great Bear and these are powered by solar panels. The project provided lots of opportunity for travel and exploration.

Tavish has a commercial dive ticket and  is always really willing to have an excuse to dive. Working for Pacific Wild is Tavish time off from the Columbia III.

Family friend, Max, helps with the solar panel installation.

Its a long ways for the sailboat, Habitat, to sail from Costa Rica to Ian’s back yard!!

Tavish climbed a tree to get this great shot of some spawning wild Pacific Salmon. These are THE KEYSTONE species for this coast. And the cause of great concern and effort to protect.