Northern Vancouver Island Sailing Adventure

About the Experience

At the northern end of Vancouver Island lies a protected maze of islands and waterways full of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and the history and traditions of the Kwakwaka’wakw people (Kwakiutl).

The Pacific Ocean funnels into the protected waters of Johnstone Strait creating strong tidal currents, and incredibly nutrient-rich waters. Millions of salmon, returning to spawn in the mainland rivers, must converge to pass through the Strait. Johnstone Strait is considered by researchers as the best place in the world to see orca (killer whales) as they come to hunt salmon–their preferred food. In addition, we expect to see humpback whales, porpoise, seals and sea lions and a variety of bird and plant species.

With a visit to small, coastal towns and villages, we will explore the art and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations who have lived here for thousands of years.

 

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Click here to see the full itinerary!
Northern Vancouver Island Sailing Adventure

About the Experience

At the northern end of Vancouver Island lies a protected maze of islands and waterways full of wildlife, beautiful scenery, and the history and traditions of the Kwakwaka’wakw people (Kwakiutl).

The Pacific Ocean funnels into the protected waters of Johnstone Strait creating strong tidal currents, and incredibly nutrient-rich waters. Millions of salmon, returning to spawn in the mainland rivers, must converge to pass through the Strait. Johnstone Strait is considered by researchers as the best place in the world to see orca (killer whales) as they come to hunt salmon–their preferred food. In addition, we expect to see humpback whales, porpoise, seals and sea lions and a variety of bird and plant species.

With a visit to small, coastal towns and villages, we will explore the art and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations who have lived here for thousands of years.

 

Did you know we’re a global leader in women’s adventure travel? Check out our destinations around the world!

 

Arrival Day into Port McNeill From the Port Hardy airport, it is about a 35-minute taxi ride to Port McNeill. Please note that there can sometimes be unforeseen weather delays when travelling in coastal regions, most commonly fog. To ensure that the group can set sail on time, we advise you to arrive the day before the trip and spend the night at an accommodation of your choice.

 

DAY ONE: ARRIVAL

This trip starts and finishes in Port McNeill, BC. We’ll meet the crew in the morning at the top of the North Island Marina. The dock is located on the Port McNeill waterfront, west of the Visitor Centre (turn left when facing the water at the intersection of Beach Drive / McNeill Road). Upon boarding the vessel, cabins will be assigned, and we’ll have an introductory safety briefing. 

We’ve chosen Port McNeill as the starting point for this voyage because it is the closest port to a popular foraging area for killer whales. We hope to discover our first group of whales the first afternoon!

And the orcas! One of the most exciting marine mammals to watch as we see them foraging for salmon, spy-hopping, and breaching. You’ll learn all about the behaviour of these fascinating creatures, listen to them calling on the ship’s underwater microphone, and learn how to identify individual animals. Keep watch for the larger spout of a humpback whale – they are known to feed well into fall on the BC coast before their migration south.

Each night we anchor in a secluded anchorage. 

 

DAY TWO- FOUR:  EXPLORING THE WATERS

Our focus these days will be exploring the waters of Johnstone Strait and nearby Queen Charlotte Strait. These nutrient-rich waters also attract orcas, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, and Dall’s porpoise. They may come over to the boat to race along on the bow wave. 

We’ll spend time among the islands of the Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial, exploring for different species of marine mammals, exploring remote beaches, and observing a variety of sea birds. Nearby Pine Island has one of the largest seabird nesting colonies on the coast. Walks in the coastal forest provide opportunities to see big trees and learn about the forest plants. With a good low tide, we may explore the shore for different species of colourful sea stars, anemone, and algae. With a fair wind, we expect to raise the sails and enjoy the silence and beauty of sailing. 

We’ll visit the modern Kwakwaka’wakw community of Alert Bay to visit the U’Mista Cultural Centre and see a fascinating collection of potlatch masks. At the entrance to Knight Inlet is the abandoned Kwakwaka’wakw village of Mimquimlees. Time permitting, we may explore this village site to discover evidence of an ancient and rich heritage. 

During our daily shore or small boat excursions, our onboard naturalist will help identify different coastal plants, animals, birds and marine life. If interested, you can help keep a species list for the trip.

There will also be plenty of time to explore the protected waters using our stable sea-kayaks.

 


DAY FIVE: ONWARDS

We return to Port McNeill to complete our voyage late morning. Women can catch afternoon flights back to Vancouver from Port Hardy. 

 

 

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