SAILING THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST
Remote, silent and sparsley populated the B.C. coast is a maze of islands and rock-strewn channels. We sailed up the inside of Vancouver Island and cruised the Charlottes for several weeks, enjoyed the great forests, the extruded shapes of volcanic rock riddled with sea caves, high granite walls that rise from the shores to snow-capped ridges and waterfalls that plunge directly into the Pacific. We watched grey whales surfacing just meters away and dolphins surfing our bow-wave, humpback whales breaching, bald eagles soaring on thermal drafts, salmon fighting their way upstream to spawn, large black bears flipping rocks over in search of crabs, and the Columbian blacktail deer feeding on kelp at low tide.
Here, wildlife encounters are one of a kind.
The Queen Charlotte Islands, an archipelago of 150 islands, lie accross Hecate Strait, 60 miles from the nearest point of the mainland coast. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Galapagos of Canada’ for its diverse ecosystem, the archipelago has one of the finest remaining old-growth rain forests, as well as some of the highest density of sea lions, sea birds, eagles and falcons found on the Pacific Coast. Scientist believe that portions of the islands escaped glaciation during the last ice age, providing refuge for flaura and fauna that might otherwise have been eliminated. Gwaii Haanas, the Haida name for the Queen Charlottes, means beautiful islands, and indeed, as you cruise through the pristine waters of South Moresby, you are aware of this unique beauty.
– Don Douglass & Reanne Hemingway-Douglass –
THE WEST COAST OF HAIDA GWAII
On the west side of Haida Gwaii the coast is exposed to the full power of the Pacific Ocean. It is situated at the edge of the continental shelf – an abrupt tectonic scarp rising from 3,000 metres below sea level to the 1,000 metre-high peaks of the San Christoval mountain range. Exposed to Pacific Ocean weather systems, it bears strong winds and big swells coming in from Japan, but it also offers a solitude and remoteness like nowhere else.