Sailing the Wilderness of British Columbia
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
With Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud docked in Shearwater, British Columbia this morning, I went ashore in search of a latte and a newspaper.
I found the latte, but the newspaper was a ridiculous thought. First of all, even if there were newspapers here (which there aren’t), they would have to come up from the mainland, by air, to Bella Bella, on Pacific Coastal Airlines. Then, someone would have to load them onto the water taxi to bring them over to Shearwater. So the earliest you could reasonably expect to get the day’s news here would be about one in the afternoon. At best.
Thanks to advancements in technology, I checked the news online on my iPhone. But imagine ten years ago, even: no news. You really are almost completely on your own in Shearwater; a small hamlet of a community nestled within one of Canada’s most prosperous Provinces.
My struggle with the news is a good reminder of the remoteness that lies ahead on this journey through the Great Bear Rainforest with Outer Shores. Today, our expedition began in earnest as guests embarked the Passing Cloud at 10:00am after a night spent in the nearby Shearwater Resort.
Following our orientation briefing from our Captain, Matt Lemay; First Mate Kyle Armstrong; and chef Natasha “Tasha” Sawyer, guests explored the Passing Cloud and began to settle into their staterooms.
There are three staterooms aboard Passing Cloud, all of which can accommodate two people on upper and lower berths. If you’ve ever wondered where the term “berth” comes from, it is this most classic form of maritime sleeping arrangement.
All cabins have crisp, soft duvets; plush pillows; and in-room sinks and vanity areas with designer toiletries by Liberty and Green, ethically produced in England.
Plenty of storage space is available in each cabin, with nooks and crannies for tucking away books, jackets, shirts, and other items. You’ll want to bring a soft-sided, collapsible piece of luggage, however: big rollaboards won’t work well here!
The two forward staterooms feature ceiling skylights that open, while the midship cabin gets its natural light through a deck prism; a glass cone inset into Passing Cloud’s teak decking.
A common toilet, or “head”, is located adjacent to the ship’s main lounge. The head also has a marine shower, which guests are encouraged to use every couple of days or so in order to conserve water.
Passing Cloud’s wood-clad lounge is a gem of a space, and one of my favorite areas aboard any ship. Warm, cozy and decidedly nautical, it evokes the golden age of sail in ways that few modern ships can replicate. Equipped with a spectacular selection of titles on every aspect of the British Columbia coast, it serves as the ship’s library, salon, and – in inclement weather – Passing Cloud’s dining hall.
At 11:15am, our lines were let go and we headed out into the open waters. We would be motoring for most of the day in order to get ahead of some anticipated nasty weather that’s due to hit the West Coast later tonight.
However, time was still made for plenty of diversions. No sooner had we departed than we encountered a massive group of dolphins. There are regulations in place as to how far away we have to stay from the dolphins, but it’s tough to control their actions, particularly when they come right up alongside in order to ride in Passing Cloud’s 7.5-knot wake. They played with us for over half an hour before finally breaking off and heading north. Right out of the gate, it became apparent that this is a place like no other – and a vacation without equal.
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