Pacific Yellowfin trip blends eco-education with family memories

It is not the sort of problem you would expect to have after a once-in-a-lifetime trip on the Pacific Yellowfin.

Let me explain how we found ourselves in such a predicament. Earlier this year, as I was browsing through the BC Children’s Oncology Parents group on Facebook, a post stood out. It mentioned a five-night trip on a yacht, called Pacific Yellowfin for oncology families that had been offered to Power To Be.

The purpose of the trip, so artfully made, was to discover the natural beauty in and about Desolation Sound while gaining insight into how much the environment had an impact on human development of the area, and how that ultimately the wildlife wins out. It was also a chance to connect as families through a shared adventure.

The trip was during the second week of June, which would be an ideal time for our family, coming to the first anniversary of the passing of our beautiful daughter Emma Grace. We put our name down for consideration, and jumped for joy two days later when we learned our family had been selected.

Fast forward to June when we stepped aboard the Pacific Yellowfin. We were warmly greeted by Captain Colin and his crew, and introduced to the two other families onboard. First impressions mean so much, and we knew we were going to experience something very special. The evening meal set the tone for the wonderful hospitality we would receive for the whole trip – nothing seemed too much.

So the problem? Bald Eagles! You see, we have always loved seeing these beautiful birds near our home, and in Active Pass during ferry trips between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. Whenever we saw them we gazed in wonder at their power.

So why do we no longer feel that same level of excitement? The blame lays squarely on the shoulders of Captain Colin Griffinson. At the start of our trip he mentioned a place where we would see many eagles – “A hundred eagles!” he promised. We raised our eyebrows questioning the likelihood of so many eagles in one place.

We had many adventures away from the main boat. We hiked the trail children used to walk to school on Cortes Island, and dug for clams at low tide. We collected oysters, and saw how they are farmed, before we traipsed along a trail alongside a waterfall to a lake for a picnic and swim.

Another day we had a long fjord to ourselves. The boat was anchored and the water toys came out, including a 40-foot slide off the boat. So much laughter! Andrea, from Power To Be, came into her own here, getting our son Charlie over some of his fear of the ocean by taking him kayaking.

It was on our last full day that we saw the eagles. We set off for the Gillard Islands, sandwiched between Sonora Island and Stuart Island, where it was wild! Everyone on the boat watched in awe as the sight before us sank in.

As the difference in tide levels generated the rapids and whirlpools, large numbers of hake were sucked down into the vortex. As the fish re-surfaced in their thousands, mostly barely alive, the waiting eagles swooped down for the easy pickings. As Captain Colin had promised, there were easily more than 100 birds, mature and juvenile, flying low overhead, talons out as they grabbed the hake, tucked the fish underneath their tail feathers and then returned to the trees on the shoreline to devour the catch. Such a sight! The noise, the excitement – they were all an attack on the senses.

It was a fitting and exhilarating end to an amazing six days in Desolation Sound. The experience was masterfully put together and we are indebted to Colin and his crew, and of course Power To Be for such a wonderful opportunity to connect as a family. Thanks also to the other two families for making the trip so enjoyable and becoming fast friends, and of course to Ben for the sumptuous food!

 – Story shared by Darrell Smith, Power To Be parent

From all of us at Power To Be, thank you to Capt. Colin Griffinson and the team from Pacific Yellowfin Charters for making this amazing experience possible for three Power To Be families. We are grateful for the opportunity to access this remote location and share time in nature outside of our regular program offerings.