Haida Gwaii Sailing Adventure

About the Experience

The untamed and unbelievable beauty of Haida Gwaii is transcendental. At the edge of the world, this storm-battered area is an ecologically and archaeologically significant landscape of 100 islands, old-growth forest, rugged headlands, and protected passageways sandwiched between towering mountains. Setting sail with the Wild Women on our Haida Gwaii Sailing Adventure is the perfect way to reset and feel restored in the west coast wilderness. 

Haida Gwaii is home to the resilient Haida, whose name for the southern islands, Gwaii Haanas, appropriately translates as “islands of beauty” or “place of wonder”. 

The archipelago is also known as ‘Canada’s Galapagos’ as the islands are bursting with life above and below the Sitkas and cedars and deep lagoons. More than 500 archaeological sites are found here–the longhouse remains and ghostly carved poles wooed celebrated Canadian artist Emily Carr long ago.

Guided by Haida Watchmen who play an instrumental role in the stewardship of the Coastal First Nations (ensuring sustainable tourism and protection of precious natural resources), we’ll journey into the mystical wilderness and remarkable history of the ancient Haida villages that dot the shoreline of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Small ship travel through this unforgettable landscape allows us to voyage to intimate places only accessible by boat or charter float plane. 

Theories suggest that parts of Haida Gwaii escaped the last ice age, creating a glacial sanctuary for plants and animals. This enlightened thinking helps explain the presence of plant species and subspecies of birds, fish and mammals found nowhere else in the world. We will have eight beautifully suspended days to explore the evolution, oddities and marvels of Haida Gwaii.

These islands are an isolated archipelago, difficult to reach and rarely visited. We will anchor in secluded bays and via inflatable Zodiacs, pull up to the shoreline to walk on footprint-less beaches. We might find a few Japanese glass fishing floats that have washed ashore after years of drifting.

If you’re seeking a powerfully educational, spiritual, cultural, biodiverse experience, the Haida Gwaii Sailing Adventure is custom designed for you. Don’t let this ship sail without you!

The Island Odyssey is a 68 ketch, originally built as a luxurious private yacht in 1984. She completed a major renovation in 2003 to update the cabins and all safety systems and features 8 private cabins (double occupancy), 3 hot showers and a comfortable salon with a natural history library. On deck, the large deckhouse offers the perfect spot to scan for whales, otters and a convocation of eagles.

 

 

Virtual Tour by SeeVirtual

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Haida Gwaii Sailing Adventure

About the Experience

The untamed and unbelievable beauty of Haida Gwaii is transcendental. At the edge of the world, this storm-battered area is an ecologically and archaeologically significant landscape of 100 islands, old-growth forest, rugged headlands, and protected passageways sandwiched between towering mountains. Setting sail with the Wild Women on our Haida Gwaii Sailing Adventure is the perfect way to reset and feel restored in the west coast wilderness. 

Haida Gwaii is home to the resilient Haida, whose name for the southern islands, Gwaii Haanas, appropriately translates as “islands of beauty” or “place of wonder”. 

The archipelago is also known as ‘Canada’s Galapagos’ as the islands are bursting with life above and below the Sitkas and cedars and deep lagoons. More than 500 archaeological sites are found here–the longhouse remains and ghostly carved poles wooed celebrated Canadian artist Emily Carr long ago.

Guided by Haida Watchmen who play an instrumental role in the stewardship of the Coastal First Nations (ensuring sustainable tourism and protection of precious natural resources), we’ll journey into the mystical wilderness and remarkable history of the ancient Haida villages that dot the shoreline of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site. Small ship travel through this unforgettable landscape allows us to voyage to intimate places only accessible by boat or charter float plane. 

Theories suggest that parts of Haida Gwaii escaped the last ice age, creating a glacial sanctuary for plants and animals. This enlightened thinking helps explain the presence of plant species and subspecies of birds, fish and mammals found nowhere else in the world. We will have eight beautifully suspended days to explore the evolution, oddities and marvels of Haida Gwaii.

These islands are an isolated archipelago, difficult to reach and rarely visited. We will anchor in secluded bays and via inflatable Zodiacs, pull up to the shoreline to walk on footprint-less beaches. We might find a few Japanese glass fishing floats that have washed ashore after years of drifting.

If you’re seeking a powerfully educational, spiritual, cultural, biodiverse experience, the Haida Gwaii Sailing Adventure is custom designed for you. Don’t let this ship sail without you!

The Island Odyssey is a 68 ketch, originally built as a luxurious private yacht in 1984. She completed a major renovation in 2003 to update the cabins and all safety systems and features 8 private cabins (double occupancy), 3 hot showers and a comfortable salon with a natural history library. On deck, the large deckhouse offers the perfect spot to scan for whales, otters and a convocation of eagles.

 

 

Virtual Tour by SeeVirtual

 


DAY ONE: NATURE WELCOMES YOU

We’ll begin the day with an a la carte breakfast, and then meet in front of the Inn. Our shuttle bus driver/guide will introduce us to Haida Gwaii on a land tour. At the ferry landing at Alliford Bay, we’ll take the ferry crossing to Skidegate Landing on Graham Island. Of the 1,884 magical islands that make up Haida Gwaii, two islands comprise the majority of the land mass; Graham Island to the north (the largest of the archipelago) and Moresby Island to the south.

Our first stop will be the renowned Haida Heritage Centre Kay Llnagaay (Haida Heritage Centre) on Graham Island for an insightful guided tour followed by a traditional Haida lunch at Keenawii’s Kitchen, hosted by a local Haida family from Skidegate. Following lunch, we’ll have time for a short walk at Spirit Lake before catching the ferry to Moresby Island. The shuttle will transport our group (along the only road!) to where the vessel will be waiting. We will be travelling on an active logging road which can sometimes result in a bumpy ride! You probably won’t even notice as your eyes will be scanning the edge of the forest black bears and Sitka deer.

At Moresby Camp, we will board the Island Odyssey and meet the seasoned crew. The old logging site at Moresby Camp is the closest road access to Gwaii Haanas National Park and doubles as a floatplane and kayak departure point for those venturing into the park.

Cabins will be assigned and everyone will participate in an introductory and safety orientation with dinner to follow. No dessert unless you can successfully demonstrate how to tie a clove hitch or monkey fist knot! Bonus if you know how to twist a boat shoe tassel knot

We’ll spend our first evening anchored nearby under the shimmer of the night sky and will depart early the next morning into the waters that have so many paint colours named after them (Benjamin Moore Pacific Rim, Pacific Teal and Deep Ocean to name a few). Destination: Southern Moresby Island to explore the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

DAY TWO-SEVEN: SAIL AWAY

If you were going to create a dream from scratch, this is it. The agenda will revolve around 24/7 wildlife observation, birdwatching, shore excursions and marvelling at the magnificence of the ancient Haida villages and skyscraper-high old-growth forest. We’ll follow creeks and shorelines and return to child-like amusement, poking around intertidal zones with no timeline.

We’ll spend our time hugging the eastern and southern shores of Moresby Island on high alert for humpback whales, porpoise, sea lions, orca and if we are lucky, fin whales. Blue, sperm, minke, sei, gray, fin, humpback and killer whales (orca) all historically frequented these waters. Local whaling severely affected these populations in the 1900’s. However, humpback and fin whale populations are rebounding! 

In early summer, several thousand Steller sea lions congregate at Cape St. James (at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii) to mate and give birth to their pups. It is quite a marvellous sight and is a stellar Steller moment.

We will cross our fingers to safely cross paths with a Haida Gwaii black bear foraging along the shoreline. A myriad of intertidal creatures found in these nutrient-rich waters attract the bears who enjoy a seafood buffet of crabs and barnacles. Eleven mammal species are native to Gwaii Haanas: pine marten, river otter, Haida ermine, dusky shrew, silver-haired bat, California myotis (a vesper bat), Keen’s myotis (bat), the little brown bat and deer mice. Not so fun fact: the eleventh species, the Dawson caribou, became extinct in 1908.

For the birders on board, you’ll be able to check dozens of species off your life list like the rhinoceros auklet, ancient murrelet, tufted puffin, horned puffin, Cassin’s auklet, pigeon guillemot, Leach’s storm petrel and fork-tailed storm petrel. Common murres, black oystercatchers and pelagic cormorants, bald eagles and Peale’s peregrine falcons also nest along the coastline. Eat your heart out—an estimated 1.5 millions seabirds nest along the shorelines of Haida Gwaii! The islands are also a critical landing zone for those travelling the Pacific flyway. Migrating birds stop here in spring and fall en masse. The concentration of bald eagle nests along the Haida Gwaii coast is second only to Admiralty Island in Alaska. 

With our expert onboard naturalist, we will investigate intertidal areas in search of sea stars, giant barnacles, mussels, clams, snails, urchins, crabs, sponges, chitons, sea cucumbers, nudibranchs and other curious creatures.

We’ll visit the old Haida village and iconic totem poles of SGang Gwaay (Ninstints), a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. If weather permits, we will visit Windy Bay (the name says it all). This is where the first pole was raised in 130 years to honour the 20th anniversary of the Gwaii Haanas Agreement to protect the natural and marine resources in 2013. Among the southern islands are many ancient villages – K’uuna (Skedans), Cumshewa, T’annu and SGang Gwaay (Ninstints). These sites contain the remains of the great longhouses and the best remaining examples of carved poles in the world.

We will spend each evening in different secluded anchorages. On our daily shore or small boat excursions, our genius onboard naturalist will help identify the unique coastal plants, animals, birds and marine life. Ever seen a banana slug? Interested participants can contribute to curating a species list for the trip. 

You will have time to explore the sheltered coastline using sea kayaks as well! At night, the overhead show has more stars than the Cannes Festival!

DAY EIGHT: ONWARDS

The trip will finish late in the morning with a big sigh. We will disembark the vessel before noon at Moresby Camp. From there, your Wild Women crew will be shuttled back to Sandspit Airport (YZP).

You can expect to arrive in Sandspit by midday which allows for time to reminisce, laugh and carry on a little longer with your new friends at Shingle Bay Bistro at the Sandspit Airport before your flight to Vancouver.

 

Click here to see upcoming trip dates to book your spot!