About Us

Photo: Guests and Crew Aboard Passing Cloud | Credit: Tavish Campbell

Mission and Values

At the heart of Outer Shores is our mission to contribute to the conservation and well-being of the ecosystems, cultures, and communities of coastal British Columbia. We believe that providing first-hand experience and understanding of some of the most spectacular wildlife and ecosystems on the planet is key to their protection and preservation.

Welcome

My name is Russell Markel and I’m the Founder and President of Outer Shores Expeditions. If you’re a first-time visitor, you might be asking, “What is Outer Shores?”

I’m glad you asked.

We are an award-winning, carbon-neutral-certified, and Green Tourism Gold-rated, niche adventure travel company operating wildlife, wilderness, and cultural expeditions throughout Canada’s Pacific Coast, aboard our classic wooden sailing expedition vessel Passing Cloud, and from Outer Shores Lodge on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The best comparison might be to think of us as a ship- and lodge-based version of an African wildlife safari. We combine pristine wilderness, amazing wildlife, luxurious accommodations, exceptional service, chef-prepared gourmet meals, expert guides, freedom from roads and routes most travelled, and the enticing adventure of never knowing what’s around the next corner.

But unlike the Serengeti, Canada’s wild Pacific Coast is a world where humpback whales sing, socialize, and cast bubble nets to capture schools of herring; family groups of killer whales follow massive populations of migrating salmon as they move into glacier-scoured fjords and estuaries; grizzly bears and black bears – including the rare white spirit bear – roam wild throughout the Great Bear Rainforest as they have for millennia; and where the heritage of Indigenous cultures has been enmeshed in this rich ecological tapestry for more than 14,000 years.

 

We pride ourselves on our ability to provide unique, intimate, educational, fun, and authentic small-ship and small-group experiences in the luxury and comfort of our expedition sailing vessel, and on the knowledge and professionalism of our crew.

Our guests are active adventurers, independent travellers, photographers, educational and conservation travellers, families, and school, university, and corporate groups.

Our expedition passenger vessel is the 70-foot (21-metre) classic wooden schooner Passing Cloud. Designed to sail around the world, Passing Cloud is the ideal vessel for exploring the coast of British Columbia. Not only that, she was designed by William James Roué, who designed Canada’s most legendary schooner, Bluenose. Passing Cloud is similarly graceful and an incredible experience to sail upon.

And for those who may prefer a land-based option, Outer Shores Lodge offers all the elements of our ship-based expeditions but from the comfort and spaciousness of a remarkable west coast lodge situated at the edge of BC’s outer coast. 

Thanks for taking the time to check us out. Learn more by watching our video, following us on social media, and signing up for our newsletter. And of course, feel free to contact us today with any questions you may have. We look forward to welcoming you aboard!

Warm regards,

Russell Markel

Russell Markel, PhD
Founder and President

Our Commitment

Sustainable Ecotourism Practices

At Outer Shores, we are committed to providing exceptional cultural and natural history expeditions that are adventurous, educational, safe, comfortable, and restful. We deliver expeditions of the highest quality in all aspects of our operations, from equipment, training, and safety to personalized service, comfortable accommodation, and exceptional chef-prepared meals. We are committed to minimizing our impacts on the wildlife we encounter and supporting the communities and cultures we visit. Our commitment extends beyond a simple business model.

At the heart of our commitment is connecting people with nature, fostering stewardship, and reducing our footprint on the planet. In this spirit, we integrate sustainable ecotourism practices into all our activities. We source and serve foods that are locally and sustainably grown, produced, raised, or caught. Our on-board recycling and composting programs help to divert waste from landfills. Our promotional materials and transactions are mostly Internet based, and when necessary we use 100% recycled post-consumer paper, saving trees, water, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy.

Supporting Partners and Communities

In each of the communities and cultures we visit, we partner with local people. We have tourism protocol agreements with First Nations whose territories we visit, and hire local guides and businesses whenever possible. We partner with parks, conservation areas, and governments, and obtain permits for all limited-use areas we visit.

To reduce our carbon footprint, we design itineraries that allow us to spend more time sailing in order to reduce our fuel consumption. Future projects aboard our ship include incorporating wind and solar power, and we are actively exploring converting our vessel to a diesel-electric hybrid engine. As a part of our carbon-reduction commitment, we offset our carbon emissions and are certified Carbon Neutral.

In addition to becoming carbon neutral, we went through a strict assessment with Green Tourism Canada, and received a GOLD rating! Green Tourism was one of the world’s first sustainable tourism certification programs and it remains highly respected today because of its comprehensive assessments. While many sustainable certification programs allow businesses to submit self-assessments, Green Tourism Canada-certified businesses are assessed on-site by trained, third-party auditors who review everything from efficiencies to food sources.

Carbon Neutral

Outer Shores is proudly Carbon Neutral

We have achieved carbon neutrality through dedicated conservation efforts, careful adherence to efficiency measures, and the purchase of carbon offsets.

As an ecotourism company, it has been our goal from the outset to become a carbon-neutral operation. We’ve always been able to maintain a very low carbon footprint thanks to our crew’s dedication to sustainability, but we always felt it integral to our company mission that we offset the carbon emissions that we do produce.

Annual Sustainability Reports with Synergy Enterprises

Starting in 2013, we have worked with Victoria-based Synergy Enterprises to produce Annual Sustainability Reports. These reports allow Synergy to measure our emissions, which includes all fuel (gasoline, diesel, propane, marine diesel), crew travel, electricity, water, waste, paper, and company travel, and in turn, purchase carbon offsets.

We were able to offset our 2013 emissions to a carbon zero or carbon-neutral footprint, and at the same time set a baseline for our carbon emissions. Proudly, we have continued this process through 2020.

Purchasing carbon offsets with Offsetters

By purchasing our carbon offsets with Offsetters, a Vancouver-based carbon management company, Outer Shores is able to do more than investing in projects that remove greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. Offsetters’ initiatives also enhance ecosystems and provide wider social and economic benefits to the people living around them. To date, Outer Shores’ carbon offset purchases have helped to support four Offsetters initiatives, including the Great Bear Forest Carbon Project (see below), Lower Zambezi REDD+, Uganda Efficient Wood Cook Stoves, and Quadra Island Forestland Conservation Project.

Great Bear Forest Carbon Project

We are proud to announce that, beginning in 2020, 100% of the carbon credits that Outer Shores Expeditions purchases to offset our carbon emissions are purchased from the landmark Great Bear Forest Carbon Project.  The Great Bear Rainforest is, of course, one of our favourite expedition destinations, and the close collaboration of this project with the First Nation communities of this region makes it a natural fit for us to support. This project is the first of its kind in North America, balancing human well-being and ecological integrity through carbon finance. The Great Bear Rainforest is unique in that it is the subject of the only Improved Forest Management project of its scale, has equal involvement with the First Nations and the BC Government, strong legal and policy foundations, and robust data in supporting the quantification of ecosystem services. Excitingly, this is not simply a conservation project – rather, it is a model for sustainable development in an economically valuable but ecologically and culturally vulnerable area

Offset YOUR Expedition

As a carbon neutral company, we assess and offset all of our transportation, including your floatplane flights in regions such as Haida Gwaii.  What we are not able to assess and offset is our guest’s travel before getting to the departure location.  Did you know that you can offset your flights and transportation leading up to your time onboard the Passing Cloud, to make it a 100% Carbon Neutral vacation? We encourage all of our guests to take that extra step to becoming an environmentally conscious traveller.

Learn about how you can offset your flight emissions through Offsetter’s flight calculator.

Our Food Philosophy

Meals are a favourite part of our daily activities aboard Passing Cloud. Our food philosophy holds that the cultivation, distribution, preparation, and appreciation of the food we eat are critical to our individual well-being, and the well-being of our environment. Whenever possible, we source and serve foods that are sustainably, locally, and organically grown, produced, raised, or caught in BC.

Passionate Chefs

Our passionate and professional chefs are culinary-school trained and/or Red Seal certified and have extensive experience creating fine dining experiences in unique culinary environments.

Our chefs and crew alike take great pride in preparing and serving our guests delicious meals that are healthy, plentiful, beautiful, and immersed in the ecosystems and cultural traditions of coastal BC.

Locally Sourced and Sustainable

We love to feature sustainable seafood  including wild Pacific salmon, halibut, black cod, Dungeness crab, and spot prawns  paired with British Columbia wines.

Finally, we do our very best to accommodate our guests’ dietary preferences and restrictions within the constraints of our on-board facilities and the challenges of provisioning in remote wilderness locations.