OUTER SHORES INSIDERS
Irene and George Brinkman
In this new feature, we talk to some of the remarkable guests we’ve had the pleasure to host aboard Passing Cloud. And there’s probably no better place to start than with the Brinkmans.
George and Irene Brinkman live in Meadow Creek in the Kootenay region of British Columbia, just north of Nelson. In recent years they’ve been leaving the mountains and making an annual pilgrimage to sea with Outer Shores. This May, they’ll be joining our Pacific Rim National Park expedition.
We recently caught up with Irene and asked her about why she and George keep coming back to the coast.
What inspired you and George to join your first Outer Shores expedition?
It was all about Russell. We took a trip to Haida Gwaii and Russell was the captain of that boat. We became friends and stayed in touch with him. One day he phoned us to say he was buying a boat and starting his own company. That very first year we hopped aboard Passing Cloud and sailed around Blackfish Sound, following the resident orcas. We’ve now been on six expeditions. We just go every year. We love it.
What is it about coastal British Columbia that you love so much?
I’m a West Coast person. I was born in Port Alberni, and I’ve lived in Prince Rupert and Victoria. George is from Ontario. We just have a never-ending passion and desire to see the wild West Coast. It’s something I grew up with and really miss, and George has loved the ocean ever since he discovered it. We learn so much and now the humpback whales seem like close personal friends because we’ve seen them so much.
What do you expect from an Outer Shores expedition?
We expect a really good sleep – we sleep really well in those bunks. We expect awesome food. And we expect peace. We really recharge our batteries. We’re not on our phones and computers. We don’t often get the chance to sit together and look at stuff and that’s really what we do for a good chunk of every day. It lets you be alone with your thoughts. It’s a holiday like nothing else.
What do you like the most about the time you spend on Passing Cloud?
She’s beautiful and we love how she sails. The cabins are lovely but I’m hardly ever below. We like staying up on the decks and seeing whatever we can see. It’s like, “Ooooooh, we’re home.”
What’s the most remarkable wildlife encounter you’ve had?
For me it’s all about the humpback whales because they’re so spectacular. On this last trip, we were in the Great Bear Sea and we had a mother humpback bring her calf to our boat and they hung out with us for almost two hours. They lay on their backs and rolled over and breached and talked and looked at us. They were interested in us. Russell put on “Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles and we swear that the whales enjoyed it.
What’s been your favourite place to visit on the coast?
Anna Inlet in Haida Gwaii. It’s the place for George and I and we’ve been there twice now. There are huge trees. It’s really quiet and it’s usually quite still so you get this incredible reflective water. It’s a beautiful place to kayak. There’s also some awesome hiking and a lot of history. It’s like a sanctuary for us.
What’s the most crucial piece of gear that you bring on an expedition?
Binoculars and really good rain gear are probably the most important. And don’t forget a bathing suit.
Have these trips changed you?
They’ve certainly reinforced my appreciation for the natural world and every tiny little thing that’s in it. But one of the biggest takeaways for us is that we get to spend all that time together. We’re really busy and it’s like going to camp together. It’s so cool. We just hang out. We’ll be doing it until Russ has to put us on the boat with a crane.