A Week of Sailing on Canadaâs West Coast
On Monday, Iâll be on my way to Sandspit, British Columbia to board the Passing Cloud, a gorgeous 70-foot schooner operated by Outer Shores Expeditions, for a week of sailing through Haida Gwaiiâs as part of the companyâs Haida Gwaii: Islands at the Edge itinerary.
You might know Haida Gwaii better as the Queen Charlotte Islands. It is situated just above Vancouver Island on the western coast of Canada, and is located 70 kilometres off the mainland. If youâve ever sailed to Alaska, chances are youâve glimpsed Haida Gwaiiâs stunning shoreline off the port side of your ship as it sails north. To put it in perspective, Sandspit is about 200 kilometres (124 miles) south of Ketchikan, and 750 kilometres (466 miles) northwest of Vancouver, by air.
Sandspit is a very small, remote town in British Columbia: thereâs a small civil aviation airport with twice-daily flights on Air Canada Express during the summer months; the usual small-town staples, and a statue of a giant fish called âThe Spirit of Sandspit.â The real draw of this voyage, however, can be found in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Haida Gwaii and within the Passing Cloud herself.
Despite the fact that it exists just a two-hour flight from western Canadaâs largest city, the islands that make up Haida Gwaii are seldom explored by most Canadians, and could be compared with Australiaâs Kimberley region in terms of remoteness. Thatâs where Outer Shores and the Passing Cloud come in: they can traverse the entire Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve from the sea.
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