Operating a sailing vessel brings a number of challenges from an environmental impact point of view, which we try to minimize through refuse management practices that are the focus of many discussions on-board, on land and at the office. We recycle glass and tin along the coast, in the small communities we work out of. Tin, glass and cardboard in some cases require us to hop in a cab because the recycling facility is outside of town. Oil recycling is imperative and responsible disposal is essential.
For plastics, this is more difficult, when attempts are made to measure how the carbon footprint created by hauling plastics back to port compares to flying them back from the outermost regions we work in, where there is just no economy of scale for recycling plastics. Paper is a major issue. We find that burning paper along the ocean shores at low tide is a better choice than adding to very small landfill sites on remote islands. The tide washes it up in the next cycle.
We also compost out in deeper water. There are all sorts of marine organisms like crabs that are detritus feeders. Some of the organic matter, like orange peels, will float, so we avoid composting those in places that are more densely populated like the Gulf Islands. All the lights on-board are 12-Volt, so they run off the batteries. We don’t have incandescent lights; everything is compact fluorescent. The efficiency of our conventional power train is enhanced by the shape of sailing vessels which are slender and foster easier movement through the water than more blunt hulls.
In all Canadian areas that are part of First Nations territory, we work collaboratively with them. In the Great Bear Rainforest—the most tangible example—we signed protocol agreements with two First Nations that carry 90% of our operating area. Hartley Bay’s Gitga’at people is one of these; and the Kitasoo Native Band at Klemtu is the other. Our activities generate $10 per person per night as a fee that is paid for the use of their territory. It is our recognition of their historic rights. We are committed to hiring local guides. At Hartley Bay, on all of our Great Bear Rainforest trips, we will spend a day with a guide hired through the Gitga’at development corporation. Typically, that is a Spirit bear-focused experience.
We are committed to buying our food for the trips in local communities, despite this being at times a challenge for our cooks, because supplies are not as dependable and more menu flexibility is required as a result. There are 4 crew members, the captain, the chef, our resource person who is typically a biologist, and then our mate who assists the others, runs the zodiacs, assists with the kayaks and sails. We have an on-going wildlife log so all significant sightings are catalogued. We are travelling in parts of the coast that researchers seldom get to. For 20 years, we have been doing marine mammal sightings in conjunction with the Vancouver Aquarium and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo.
Appreciate wilderness, respect wildlife and native cultures
We only travel in small groups of 12-16 guests. Small groups can watch in awe as a bear feeds on salmon. Smaller boats can float silently among the whales. We adhere to the principals of ecotourism. We support local communities, promote conservation, ensure our practices are low impact, and provide guests with world-class knowledge about the coast, the wildlife and Native cultures. We travel together in a relaxed, fun style (our lives are here to be enjoyed). We contribute to a variety of whale and seabird research programs and support conservation groups working to protect coastal wilderness.
On each trip we are committed to introducing participants to the wonders of nature. An experienced naturalist leads daily walks ashore and often provides short evening slide shows or presentations. Participants find learning engages their curiosity, and enriches the trip immensely. On all our voyages we intentionally keep our itineraries flexible to take advantage of wildlife sightings, weather and tides, and the interests of the group. These sample itineraries describe typical trips. Activities, however, may occur in a different order or be substituted by suitable alternatives. Wildlife is wild life and may not necessarily conform to our schedules.