From Saturna to Prevost in BC’s Gulf Islands
A few rays of sun were peeking out of the clouds as dawn broke in the skies above Outer Shores Expeditions this morning. The rain that had pounded down on the ship’s woodwork and polished brass through the night had largely evaporated, leaving a cool, crisp fall morning in its wake.
Chef Graham treated guests to breakfast at 7:30 a.m. this morning, which we all shamelessly devoured and washed down with ample coffee. The food is excessively good here onboard Passing Cloud, and most of us were up by 6:30 a.m. and on-deck enjoying our coffee while the scents of Graham’s cooking wafted through the smokestack on the roof of the galley and wheelhouse.
By 8:30 a.m, we boarded Passing Cloud’s Zodiac raft for our morning adventures ashore. Taking part in these tours is optional, but you’ll find the whole ship goes regardless. With Outer Shores, its guests are game for whatever the day has to present.
Captain Matt led our expedition to explore the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve on Saturna Island. To enter the park, we walked from the beach at Lyall Bay to Sunset Boulevard – literally the ‘main street’ of the small settlement at this end of the island – and walked past an eclectic assortment of houses, boats, cars and trucks in various states of disrepair. This is remote island life; as different and varied from Vancouver and Victoria as you can get.
Winding its way through the deep woods, our hike took us approximately 1.5 kilometres into the forest over uneven terrain and up a few steep areas as we ascended to a clearing at the top of the island filled with grazing sheep. While the inclined parts were remotely challenging, our guests (most of whom were twice my age) gave me a run for my money as I huffed and puffed my way to the top. Everyone helped each other reach the top, and our reward was some pretty spectacular vistas.
Returning to the Passing Cloud, the skies opened up just as we left our anchorage and made our way around and out to the eastern side of Saturna Island, which is exposed to the Strait of Georgia. We cruised along throughout lunchtime before making landfall on the opposite side of Saturna Island, at Narvaez Bay.
Taking the zodiac ashore once again, we walked along a small trail cut into some of the campsites on the island, stopping to photograph a deer that emerged from the forest in the distance. It quickly became apparent that the deer was injured; something had seriously damaged one of its hind legs. With no bears and few, if any, cougars on these islands, it’s difficult to say what injured the deer. It limped off tentatively into the forest, and I found myself wondering what would happen to it. We all chatted about it amongst ourselves for the next few minutes as we continued on through the forest. The consensus was that the deer probably wouldn’t survive for long.
Reaching the point at Echo Bay that looks out over the Strait, everyone found their own little rocky outcrop to sit on. I chose a section of rocks looking east, towards the Strait of Georgia and the mainland. In the distance, the faint outline of the San Juan Islands was visible, with Bellingham, Washington somewhere off beyond that in the distance.
I’m not sure how long we sat for. I lost track of time looking out over that ocean, undi
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