When a good friend asked for help to crew her new sailboat on a trip of a lifetime I literally jumped aboard and agreed to travel with her and a few other crew members to the remote islands of Haida Gwaii. There was one more companion traveling with us and he was the cutest sailor of all, the beloved dog Beck.
I boarded ‘Vala’ a 46 foot Bennateau Oceanis, in the remote northern BC coastal village of Bella Bella. To get there I took a Pacific Coastal Airlines flight from Vancouver’s South terminal airport to Port Hardy and boarded another small aircraft onwards to Bella Bella. Pacific Coastal Airlines safely landed me in the tiny village of Bella Bella. I found a white van with a local driver that takes people to the marina for $15 cash. From there I took the ‘Seabus’ to the Shearwater resort to catch up with the boat.
We headed up the remote BC coast through the Great Bear Rainforest searching for bears. No luck here for us but we did see some pretty amazing scenery along the way. Sailing conditions varied daily but there was nothing that was really crazy. For the most part the weather was dry but cool with mystic clouds shrouding the coastal mountains.
Our first stop was Hartley Bay home of the Gitga’ata tribe who are also Tsimshian people. This is village that rescued the passengers and crew from the sinking Queen of the North BC Ferry in the spring of 2006. This village is only acceable by air and water. There is a small passenger ferry that runs twice a week to Prince Rupert. There are no cars in Hartley Bay and the 200 residents use golf carts to travel through town on a network of wooden boardwalks.
Next stop was Klemtu which is located on Swindle Island home of the Kitasoo tribe of the Tsimshian people. There is about 450 people living here and there are no roads in to this remote village but it is serviced regularly by BC Ferries.
Along the way we anchored in many beautiful locations. Taking Beck to shore on the dinghy and exploring the remote wilderness.
After 8 days at sea it was time to prep the boast and to prep the crew for the challenging crossing of Hecate Strait. We waited in the beautiful Griffith harbour just off Banks Island.
We estimated it would take us 10 hours. We needed to leave early in the morning so we were under way by 6am. Late that evening we were sent a message and the most beautiful rainbow appeared. We were lucky and the crossing was relatively smooth and we made it in 9 hours.