Air accelerates when it passes through a constriction, and it seemed that our early morning arrival into Johnstone Strait had a similar “Venture­-I” effect on the weather. Brisk wind and cloudy skies broken by a resilient sun quickly erased the memory of yesterday’s early summer in Victoria as we punched northward into the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Extra layers were quickly deployed alongside coffee refills as we gathered on the bow, just in time to meet up with a playful pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins that joined us for a quick bow-bus ride commute before breakfast.

Humpback enthusiast Andy Szabo then regaled us with incredible science and even more impressive drone footage of the most charismatic of all cetaceans – a job very whale done indeed. Errant logs continuously pestered our whale-watching senses as we sailed to Cormorant Island and the awe-inspiring community of Alert Bay – an artistic center of the modern Indigenous cultural renaissance of British Columbia.

There on the dock, we met up with our friends sailing north aboard National Geographic Sea Lion. Dive teams from National Geographic Venture and National Geographic Sea Lion went beneath the dock to share some bubbles while everyone else went off to explore the U’mista Cultural Centre and its reclaimed Kwakwaka’wakw artifacts. We then gathered inside the Big House under the watchful eye of the world’s tallest totem pole to share in a cultural celebration put together by the Tsasala troupe. We left the event smelling of cedar smoke and brimming with gratitude after witnessing the songs and dances of the people who have defined this coastline since time immemorial. Tomorrow, we will explore the area for charismatic megafauna – we’re only just getting started on our wonderful journey northward through this treasured Inside Passage.