Monthly Archives: November 2013

Fall 2013, We’re Home!!!

So yes, I do heave a pretty big sigh of relief when the last tour is over for the season.  I have a personal motto for our company (certainly not carved in brass over the corporate head-quarters, more like a small benediction), “Safe, fun, viable.” Meaning, everyone safe: guests, crew, ship,  everyone has fun, and we make enough money to pay the crews well and maintain the Columbia III properly.

So the last guests flew out of Bella Bella, and with relief and thanks, we headed south looking for a weather window to get around Cape Caution.  We had one sandy beach stop where Fern and I got to stretch our legs . . . I don’t really get off the boat a lot so it was nice.


Once we got home, we had, of course, lots to do. I have some up coming work scheduled for the boat so we had her hauled briefly to give her a “season end” inspection. Of course, my mentor/skipper/intentional uncle, Dennis came to check  on the Columbia III and to advise me on all things “wooden boat”.




My skipper/mentor of 41 years, Dennis poses . . .

And then we got home, we unloaded all the mattresses and left-over food, and cleaned the boat and changed the oil on the main engine so she sits with clean oil over the winter and FINALLY slipped the boat back into her custom built shed for the winter . . . aaaahhhhh.

Great Bear Rainforest Kayaking Mothership Tours 2013

Once again we found ourselves in the Great Bear Rainforest. What a treat! We never see the same things twice, no group ever sees everything, but everyone leaves happy and wanting to return for more.  About 40% of our guests in the GBR in 2013 were repeat guests, so you can get the idea that they liked what they saw and came back for more. We certainly do! Every tour is different and all are exciting for us as crew . . .  Here is a TOTALLY random sampler of shots . . .  just remember the really good shots of wildlife are kept safe in the photo gallery on our site.

A few “teaser” shots . . .


and a grizzly in the fjords . . . _DSC7959

and a very rare occurrence: a grizzly momma with 3 young cubs.
Grizzly mother and  3 cubs canada bear viewing tours

A relaxing lunch stop._DSC6634

Here’s a great shot, Steve helps a guest at the back of the Columbia III, but look at the fjord’s steep sided walls behind them!_DSC8285

Guide Luke caught a salmon trolling from the kayaks and lunch became beach-fire roasted salmon . . .mmm!_DSC8308

I know I look smashing in PINK . ..  . the photographers always say they like some colour in their shots for “drama”!
_DSC6382 - Ross on the Columbia

A really great “come-back” story is the humpback whales on the BC coast and especially in the GBR. We have many, many sightings this summer with some spectacular displays of bubble netting.  Here one whale swims in circles under water whilst emitting a steady stream of bubbles. This “curtain” of air bubbles entraps a school of fish and  the 3 remaining humpback whales surge up from below, mouths agape, to swallow the little fish. It is very dramatic and easy to predict where the action will be as the circle of bubbles on the surface marks the spot. Get your cameras ready!!!!_DSC9763


A great shot of Farlyn, skipper/cook/daughter/ wild salmon – old growth trees advocate:007

It’s always fun when Steve and Luke Roman guide together. It helps to be best friends, on and off the “job”.2013-08-02 03.36.46

2013-08-03 02.10.05

And then we still have trouble motivating our son-in-law, Luke Hyatt . . .  (not!)2013-08-17_22-06-58_k

Here is a shot of Sheila, she came for two tours this summer and I am sure we will see her again. Easy going and appreciative, she’d be welcome on any tour we offer.DSC_5297

Just another group shot . . . well, we do get to meet some pretty interesting folks in the course of the summer.  This group includes a fellow who’s hand-prints are painted on the lunar module still sitting on the moon (he is a rocket scientist, really!), and a paddler who was a Zen monk turned Jungian psychologist,  and a guest who was a world expert surgeon specializing in re-attachment surgery for hands and who had made a wooden boat and sailed it around the world and won international rowing competitions even in his 70’s . . . .  DSC_5485


Ace guide, Steve Schellenberg geared up for the GBR. Binoculars, camera, radio, pepper spray, sun glasses, life jacket and maucho stubble . . .  Steve will be guiding polar bear tours in the fall this year as well.IMG_6826

Sun and sand in the GBR . . . .IMG_6865



This is our group from our 9 night tour into the GBR.  One couple were there for their fourth tour (including a whole boat charter in 2009), one couple were there for there second tour with us, and Scott was there for his 5th tour with us! 6 weeks in the  GBR! . . . It was like a home coming. The other guests were a little perplexed the first day but they understood by the time they left . . . IMG_6951


Here Fern captures Luke capturing a spirit bear . . .  they are so rare, it is always very exciting when we are lucky enough to see one. The GBR is not a zoo!IMG_6962

An aft deck crab party. Ian and Karen along to show us around their home turf.IMGP5612


Robert’s grand father designed the COLUMBIA III. Maybe it makes him partial to the old girl. He joined us for his 4th tour this fall.IMGP5625

Now here is a real “sea story” for you . . . About 35 years ago, Fern found a heavy-duty coffee mug in the Sally-Anne. I  think she paid 50 cents. But the mug had staying power. When I owned and operated an old wooden tugboat, it became my “tugmug”. Over the years, it just seemed to “be there”. Our kids were born, and grew. I flew helicopters for 17 years. I imagined my tugmug on the Columbia III and that came true. And I skippered the mothership for nine years.  But on the last night of our 2013 season, the very last night, there was a slight “clunk” sound from the galley. A soapy, slippery plate fell. A direct hit on the mug. “Oops! I hope that cup wasn’t special to Ross” . . . . a deckhand claimed casually . . .
So I propped the two fractured halves on the Columbia III’s compass, took a quick photo and “over the side” it went. I shed a few tears. Why? I could never explain. It was just a 50 cent mug . . . with too much imbued into its porcelain. Bye, bye.IMGP5628

Let’s pretend this is me watching the 2 halves of the mug sink out of sight . . .ross 003

It certainly can rain the the GBR in the fall, but it can also be wonderfully sunny and warm.tavishcampbell-1215

Broughton Archipelago/Johnston Straits 2013

So I make another BA/JS  entry . . . our 9th season here with the COLUMBIA III.  There will be lots of really good shots in the photo gallery. If you are a new reader here, you can scan the gallery over the years and you will see. The British Columbia coast is very generous and we, among many, are the beneficiaries. The good weather, the great paddling terrain and the abundant marine life make this area a pleasure to return to each summer for our “fix” of Orcas, dolphins, seals, humpback whales and all manner of sea birds, eagles, and inter-tidal life . . . once again, “Thank-you”, to this precious place!

Here a grizzled old sea captain, (read “blog master”) scans the horizon with a keen eye . . ._DSC6628

The Broughton area is famous for marine wildlife for a very good reason. Here Luke Hyatt captures more great marine mammal shots. Just for the record, 98% of our good wild life shots on this website are captured by our son-in-law, Luke, or our daughter, Miray. Good work and “Thanks!”

Here a white-sided dolphin charges the Columbia III._DSC8393

and a killer whale pops up to investigate the group . . ._DSC8835

Spy hopping

and another whale decides to come along-side . . .  We are supposed to keep our distance, but after 57 years in their waters, the Columbia III seems to require a close inspection on occasion. We just turn the engine off and hold our breath, even it the whales don’t!_DSC9034

. . . and another group passes by._DSC9115

And a Dalls porpoise swings past for a visual inspection, eye to eye with guests on the front deck._DSC9170

And a humpback  whale. Each whale can be uniquely identified by the colouring and scaring of their tails.tavishcampbell-1476

Getting ready for another day’s paddling in the summer sun of the Broughton Archipelago.2013-08-17_18-38-48_k

A great lunch pull-out.2013-08-18_23-38-54_k

Ace guide, Luke Roman, displaying the latest in West Coast kayak-guide fashion. Kelp accessories . . . or should I say, “Heaven kelp me!”2013-08-19_02-21-15_k


Here is a “CRAZY” story . . . I was once a young man. I was once in grade 12 chemistry. I once had a grade 12 chemistry partner who helped me figure out obscure chemical equations and happened to like hiking and rock climbing . . . . Fast forward FORTY YEARS . . . and Karen came to join us paddling . . . . It was fun to catch up, though her memory was far better than mine. . . .Columbia_III_Wheelhouse-2

Lead guide, Steve has difficulty staying upright . . .DSC_5228

This shot brings a lot back for me. We had a group charter the boat for their second tour with us. Actually Joan and Bob have joined us three times but only twice as a whole boat charter . . . The group was very interested in the local First Nations and so I tried extra hard to arrange a visit to our favourite spot.  Tsatsisnukwomi Village.  There resides here a most gracious Chief; soft spoken, careful to choose his words, and full of stories and insights that capture us completely, every time we visit. His story is one of great hardship and noble struggle against huge odds, and it is impossible not to be moved by the visit. So this picture captures a “moment” as we left the village, Joan looking back at the village disappearing, the full impact of the visit with the elder Chief sinking in. We all felt subdued and reflective. A few tears came to Joan’s eyes, and her husband came out to comfort her. I don’t really take a lot of photos, but I raced through the galley to grab the camera and raced aft to capture this shot. IMGP5604

Here’s a few fun photos that our son, Tavish, took.  When he was sailing last year, from Costa Rica to Hawaii, he had lots of time to perfect his technique . . . He jury-rigged a camera to a kite and figured out how to aim the camera back at the boat . .  . Here, in the Broughton Archipelago he puts this grand skill to work. These next three shots are not taken from an expensive helicopter, but from a camera tied to a very long piece of string! Aided by wind!DCIM102GOPRO



I always thought it was perfectly normal to face backwards driving a computer mouse whilst driving the Columbia III forwards, but upon further reflection I think I have created a new yoga pose . . ._DSC5917 - Ross is hip