On Board with Outer Shores: Pacific Rim National Park





Did you know the best time to visit Pacific Rim is in April and early May? Lush temperate rainforests and an unspoiled rugged coastline characterize the 511 square kilometer national park along Vancouver Island’s West Coast. No doubt, it’s one our favourite places in British Columbia! This year, we hosted three diverse group sailings to Pacific Rim National Park: an all-female voyage, our classic voyage and our first ever photography tour – all aboard the robust Passing Cloud wooden schooner.

Inspired by pristine nature and amazed by unique wildlife encounters, we hope you’ll join us next time to the Pacific Rim in 2015!


Sailing Recap: Women’s Trip

Seven adventurous B.C. women left Ucluelet and explored Pacific Rim National Park this past April, enjoying five sunny days aboard the Passing Cloud. Turning off the engine and sailing through this ecological jewel, the women explored the white-sand beaches and old-growth forests of Dodd, Willis and Clark Island. They also toured Benson Island, known as C’issa, the birthplace of the Tseshaht First Nation over 6000 years ago.

During the voyage, the rich coastal seas were crystal clear: “It’s like being in an aquarium and a glass bottom boat tour… it’s amazing!” said one guest. The women spotted an estimated 20,000 surf scoters feeding on herring roe, a kaleidoscope of bat stars and even a gray whale breeching five times in front of the vessel.

Conservation is at the heart of our voyages and this trip was no different. Passengers and crew collected ocean debris (plastics) from the beaches they visited and hauled it back to shore for proper garbage and recycling disposal. If you’d like to bring a group aboard, contact us for more details: [email protected]


4 reasons to visit Pacific Rim National Park in Spring:

  1. Each year, more than 20,000 gray whales travel along the west coast of Vancouver Island, between early March and late April. Gray whales have the longest known migration of any known mammal, more than 16,000 km round trip, between their winter mating and calving lagoons in Baja Mexico, to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea (Arctic Ocean).
  2. During the same time, Pacific herring migrate en masse into shallow coastal waters to spawn, depositing vast numbers (tons!) of herring eggs into the shallow coastal waters of the B.C. coast. This attracts enormous numbers of predators and scavengers to feast on this nutritious ecological bonanza, from hermit crabs, salmon and surf scoters to sea lions, grey whales, and black bears.
  3. Coastal black bears have left their hibernating dens and have moved into the coastal estuaries and intertidal zones to feed on crabs, clams, mussels, and herring eggs!
  4. The rich cultural heritage of the Tseshaht First Nation, where we discover ancient village sites, massive shell middens, stone fish traps, clam gardens, and other ancient cultural remains.


An Outer Shores First: Photography Tour with James Thompson

Our inaugural photo tour with inspiring coastal photographer James Thompson kicked off April 28th, 2014. We enjoyed 5-days of stunning weather in Barkley Sound, spotting amazing bears with our fingers ready on the shutter button. Thompson advised on optimized camera setup and lighting for coastal and wildlife photography, and shared his best tips on personal safety and respecting the natural environment, while Captain Russ found perfect photography locations time and time again, capturing the rich variety of scenery and wildlife of Pacific Rim.

Interesting discoveries include a sea lion skeleton and skull, macrolife-teeming tide pools, massive trees on Dodd Island, and ancient fishing traps. Browse through James Thompson’s photos here: jamesthompsonphotography.com


Exploring Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands with Dr. Spencer Wood, Standford University

Expert naturalist Dr. Spencer Wood from the Natural Capital Project and Stanford University, plus Captain Russ, Chef Gem and First Mate Joel lead a wild-life packed jaunt to Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands in Pacific Rim National Park from April 23-27th. Five international passengers, hailing from San Francisco to the Bruce Peninsula, were treated to two encounters with beautiful coastal black bears, foraged in the estuaries of Barkley Sound, and spotted both grey and humpback whales.

Ashore, we trekked through the ancient forests of Wouver Island to the Great Tidepool. We also enjoyed some great birding during the 5-day sailing, spotting balds eagles, blue herons, belted kingfishers, marbled murrelets, rhinoceros aucklets, common and Pacific loons, hooded mergansers, buffleheads, goldeneyes, and horned grebes… just to name a few.

Strong winds called for a spectacular sail, and once again we were impressed with the Passing Cloud’s speed, power and agility. In the evenings, we enjoyed fabulous meals by Gem on the aft deck while watching the sunset and listing to the evening chorus of songbirds. Is there anything more perfect?



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