Early this morning, National Geographic Sea Lion made a hard left into the mouth of the Fraser River. We headed to our morning destination of Steveston, a Canadian port where our American vessel would clear into Canada. Once all paperwork was finished, National Geographic Sea Lion received clearance to proceed into Canadian waters. Our floating home traveled the short distance to the braided mouth of the Fraser River and the entrance to the Strait of Georgia, an arm of the Salish Sea.
We were scheduled to spend our day cruising north through Johnstone Strait, heading towards our destination for tomorrow, Blackfish Sound and the community of Alert Bay. Both are located near the northern end of Vancouver Island.
Our pilot and second mate, Rick, took the wheel and slowly moved National Geographic Sea Lion towards Malaspina Strait, a small arm of Johnstone Strait. We were hoping for the opportunity to cruise closer to land so we could look for wildlife and observe the changing spring forest. All of these passages are connected to what is called the Inside Passage–a safer, calmer set of passageways that move ever north in protected waters. Just past Bowen Island, our pilot, Rick, took a hard left while still moving north. Within an hour, we were cruising along the lovely eastern shoreline of Texada Island. Many bald eagles decorated large coniferous trees…some in pairs, others just watching us watch them as we passed. Big leaf maples, vine maples, and madrones were all in flower. The trees added many a shade of green, a true sign of spring in the rainforest of the northwest coast. There are seven temperate rainforests on the planet, and we are traveling in the largest. This rich, lush, deeply forested land runs along the coast of North America, from Northern California to Southeast Alaska. The rainforest provides a bountiful life for many, many sentient beings…the human being is but one of many who call this forested land next to the sea, home.
Jim Thomas was our honored guest and speaker for our journey north. Jim is a Tlingit from Yakutat, a city in Southeast Alaska, and a longtime resident of the Northwest Coast Rainforest. He stepped forward for an afternoon of storytelling. His many stories gave us insight into the seen and unseen world of the Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest Coast.