Kayaks and Apples in BC’s Gulf Islands

Paddling around in James Bay on Prevost Island, with Passing Cloud in the background. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Paddling around in James Bay on Prevost Island, with Passing Cloud in the background. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The silence was so total and complete that a wave of relief washed over me, as if my body had forgotten what it was like to hear nothing at all. I had taken one of the onboard kayaks from onboard Outer Shores Expeditions Passing Cloud for a spin in the protected inlet of James Bay, on Prevost Island in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, this morning in order to get some shots of the ship at anchor.

Passing Cloud at anchor on a still, fall morning on the BC coast. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Passing Cloud at anchor on a still, fall morning on the BC coast. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

I got my shots, and then paddled from one side of the bay to another, pausing in the middle to stop and listen. That’s when I heard nothing. Absolutely nothing, save for the light rippling of the water that idly lapped the sides of my kayak. I remember doing this up in Haida Gwaii when I last sailed with Outer Shores two years ago, and that silence haunts me still.

And so I sat there in my kayak, content to let the current push me slowly around the sheltered bay. That’s the kind of thing you can do with Outer Shores Expeditions, and it was just part of my morning in the Gulf islands.

Guests also had the chance to hike through the woods on Prevost Island this morning. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Guests also had the chance to hike through the woods on Prevost Island this morning. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Outer Shores' Crew: always ready to lend a helping hand. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Outer Shores’ Crew: always ready to lend a helping hand. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The sleek, classic lines of the gorgeous Passing Cloud, as seen from the kayak. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The sleek, classic lines of the gorgeous Passing Cloud, as seen from the kayak. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

After another one of Chef Graham’s hearty (and varied) breakfasts, guests disembarked the Passing Cloud for an invigorating morning hike ashore. Because there are only two kayaks, guests were invited at three points along the trail to swap out and kayak to the next point. In doing so, every single guest got to enjoy the hike, and each guest got to get a shot at kayaking, too. It’s something that just isn’t possible on larger ships, but it’s standard here aboard the intimate, six-guest Passing Cloud.

This afternoon, we sailed to the town of Ganges, on Saltspring Island, for a small dose of civilization. For me, this was excellent news: in the 14 years I lived in British Columbia, I never did get to make it to the island. Now, as a pseudo-tourist, I was excited to get to experience the island for the first time.

Welcome to the town of Ganges, on Saltspring Island! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Welcome to the town of Ganges, on Saltspring Island! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Passing Cloud stopped here to take on water...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Passing Cloud stopped here to take on water…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and I stopped at the local cafe to take on Chai Latte. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and I stopped at the local cafe to take on Chai Latte. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Beautiful (and quaint) downtown Ganges. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Beautiful (and quaint) downtown Ganges. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Ganges is a very small town, so navigating it isn’t too difficult. I patronized the local new and used book store, Black Sheep Books, and grabbed an excellent Chai Latte from the cozy little Tree House Café that was situated conveniently up the street from the marina. I also took the time to buy a copy of the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper and some locally-made chocolate to enjoy back onboard.

Once we set sail, I sat down to read the newspaper but quickly grew disgusted with it. After three days of not having any news of the outside world, I found I just didn’t care about most of the content; it just seemed so trivial. And so I sat outside and enjoyed the brisk air on deck and drank my Chai Latte, generally content with life.

Coffee and newspaper...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Coffee and newspaper…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and the view up on deck before our departure from Ganges. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and the view up on deck before our departure from Ganges. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

To wrap up our afternoon, we stopped briefly on Russell Island. It’s here that settlers from Hawaii (no kidding) who had gotten into the fur trade established a small homestead, the last iteration of which still stands to this day.

Going ashore, we walked the easy-to-navigate trail that Parks Canada has set up and ended up at the homestead. Now closed for the winter, it was impossible to go inside, but tours are offered during the summer months.

Instead, we did something else to pass the time: we shook the apple trees that surround the property to relieve them of their very ripe fruits. A handful of apples dropped to the ground with a satisfying “thud”. Captain Matt went over and picked a few up for us.

The Best Apple Ever. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Best Apple Ever. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Now, I don’t really like apples; I’m more of an orange man. But what I bit into was the most delicious apple I have ever had in my life; never have I tasted something so ripe, pure, and delicious. It may have been the best fruit I’ve ever eaten, outside of fresh coconut in Cuba and mango in Thailand. It’s also amazing how good fruit can taste when it’s grown without preservatives or chemicals to make the skin shine, or pesticides, or any of that other stuff. This was literally just an apple that had grown on a tree.

This evening, we anchored on the eastern side of Vancouver Island, just off the sprawling houses that line Land’s End Road just to the north of the Swartz Bay ferry terminal. These are multi-million dollar properties that have only seen their values soar skyward in recent years, pushed into the stratosphere by the housing boom on BC’s West Coast. Tonight, I’d reckon it’s the nine of us aboard Passing Cloud that have the better view: the mansions in the distance, with their illuminated lights, look gorgeous in the setting sun.

Night falls aboard Passing Cloud...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Night falls aboard Passing Cloud…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...as we enjoy another fabulous dinner onboard (with local seafood)...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…as we enjoy another fabulous dinner onboard (with local seafood)…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and go over where we've been today with Captain Matt.

…and go over where we’ve been today with Captain Matt.

Tomorrow, our quick sailing trip through the Gulf Islands of British Columbia comes to an end, as we arrive back in Sidney just after breakfast. Few cruises disembark as close to the airport as we will; the entire taxi ride will probably take eight minutes at best. It’s almost a shame: this is one of those trips that you wouldn’t mind missing a flight for.

Although it was shorter than the first, my second time exploring British Columbia’s coastline with Outer Shores Expeditions and the Passing Cloud proved to be every bit as memorable as the first. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud has sadly come to a close, but stay tuned for our full Voyage Recap! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Outer Shores Expeditions - BC's Gulf Islands

DATEACTIVITY
Monday, October 17, 2016Embarking Passing Cloud in Sidney, British Columbia, Canada
Tuesday, October 18Circumnavigating Saturna Island and overnighting on Prevost Island.
Wednesday, October 19Saltspring Island and Russell Island
Thursday, October 20Disembark Passing Cloud in Sidney; Recapping our Journey
 

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