187 Photos - Oct 8, 2010
Photo: Our 9-day trip went from Bella Bella to Prince Rupert, along the BC coast.  This area is unofficially called the Great Bear Rainforest.Photo: A closer view of the area.  We traveled along the inside passage, taking nine days in all.Photo: Awaiting our flight to Bella Bella, I pull out my mighty bear-shooting lens to show to a guest we just met (photo by Carolyn)Photo: Our flight to Bella Bella was really scenic.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Our home for the next 9 days is the Columbia III, a historic wooden yacht built in 1956 as a mission and medical ship for the logging communities along the coast.  Outfitted now for touring, it can carry 10 passengers and 4 crew.Photo: Karen in the wheelhouse (photo taken in 2008, last time we did the voyage).  Note all the shiny mahogany and brass.Photo: We're off and cruising!  Ben grabbed this shot while captain Ross was giving us the safety briefing.Photo: "Hey, there's an eagle!  Where?  Over there!"
Rick (another engineer) and I scan the area.  Photo by Carolyn.Photo: Ross and Fern in the wheelhouse, with Karen in the background.  Photo by Niamh (prounounced "Neeve" for those of us in North America).Photo: A fine morning for a paddle.Photo: We always travel in the narrow passageways, so we're sheltered from the wind and the water is always flat.Photo: This is a photo of me in the same spot (by Ben).Photo: Cruising through a channel at dusk, with Zodiac in tow.Photo: A fine sunset on our first nightPhoto: Sunset framed through the wheelhouse windowsPhoto: Our first night was also Karen's big birthday!  Thanks Fern for the awesome cake, complete with 50 candles.  It's a good thing I only look 10 years older than Karen.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Inside the ship's salon.  Rick is presenting Ross with a fine bottle of scotch, complete with limerick.Photo: We got to know Rick pretty early on!Photo: If you're lucky, Dall's Porpoises will come and play alongside the ship.  If you're even luckier, you'll mange to get a shot of one of them in mid-jump.Photo: There are waterfalls galore in the area.  Wish I brought an inner tube to play with!  Photo by Carolyn.Photo: Karen and I pretending that we just went down the falls.  Probably would be more believable if we faced the other way... (photo by Ben).Photo: A quick re-group for snacks and social chit-chat.  Photo by Ben.Photo: A typical lunch break on shore.  Fruit, salad, fresh baked squares, and lots of sandwich fixings.  Photo by Ben.Photo: What I really like about this trip, is I can bring all my camera gear.  I used the 300 mm lens in the zodiac, and a 200 mm lens in the kayak.  The rain covers came in quite handy.  Photo by Ben.Photo: In a galley the size of a walk-in closet, Fern prepares three meals a day for nine passengers.  Miray is lending a hand.  Photo by Ben.Photo: The wheelhouse is always open, and affords great views in three directions.  Photo by Ben.Photo: The engine is the original 1956 Gardner straight-8, producing about 150 hp at 900 rpm.  Photo by Ben.Photo: A typical multi-course breakfast, with fresh baked cinnamon rolls, fruit, eggs, and plenty of good cheer.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Even with the hearty breakfasts, we didn't miss a chance at a snack break.  Miray is showing off the Swiss chocolates provided by Ben & Irene.  I'm in the background, staring at a rock or something.  Photo by Ben.Photo: A fine waterfall en route.Photo: Lots of fun exploring the inlets.Photo: Rick and CarolynPhoto: This starfish lost two of its arms, and is in the process of growing them back.Photo: Scott provides some scale to this waterfallPhoto: There were lots of salmon to be seen.  This one has finished spawning, and was slowly living out its final hours.Photo: Bald eagles are everywhere.  I love finding them in great poses.Photo: This one was happy to oblige.Photo: Juvenile bald eagles are mottled in colour, and get the white headfeathers after 2-3 years.Photo: Photographing them in flight is a real challenge.  This one managed to work out fortunately.Photo: Our ship is illuminated by a brief beam of sunshine.Photo: As we cruise through the inside passage, our ship leaves an interesting pattern in its wake.Photo: On the Zodiac, in Mussell Inlet waiting for grizzly bears to appear.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Mussell Inlet, photo by Ben.Photo: Since I just had my 300 mm lens with me, this is the only rainbow picture I could get.Photo: A mom and cub venture along the shoreline at dusk, giving us a great view.Photo: After they passed by, we went onshore for a close look at the footprints.  Photo by Ben.Photo: "It appears there has been a fish murder here.  You are all suspects."Photo: One more cruise into Mussell Inlet, the following morning.Photo: Scott, Ben, and Irene.  Photo by Niamh.Photo: Dead salmon, after spawning upstream.  This area should really be called the Great Salmon Rainforest, since they are such a vital part of the ecosystem.Photo: Still waters at low tidePhoto: Another great reflection.  Photo by Ben.Photo: The widest waterfall on our trip.Photo: The cameras were busy!  Photo by Ben.Photo: This is my picture of the same waterfall, in 2008.Photo: At high tide, we were able to make it upstream to this really cool waterfall.  The rain is pouring down on us at this point!Video: My low-quality video of the waterfall, taken with my waterproof point-and-shoot.Photo: A somewhat higher-quality shot, taken onshore with a tripod.Photo: Since I had the tripod, might as well get a group shot!  Luke, Ben, Niamh, Scott, Irene, Rick, Caroline, Karen, Jon, Miray (Lynda stayed onboard, with a cold).Photo: The best part of a rainy day is coming back onboard!  Luke takes all our wet gear to the warm engine room, where it dries in no time.Photo: On board the ship in the pouring rain, I look for photo opportunities.  Here's a close-up of the railing.Photo: An abstract view of the roof of the ship, as seen through a window in the wheelhouse.Photo: A paddle up river, in a great downpour.Photo: Every time is a good time for picture taking!  Here I am using my point-and-shoot for macros.  Photo by Carolyn.Photo: See how good these point-and-shoots are?  Especially with macros.Photo: Cool shells attached to the rock.  Almost looks like a wedding decoration.Photo: We did a walk through the forest, and spotted these enormous mushrooms.Photo: Kayaking in the rain is no problem at all, but it's always wonderful to come back to the ship.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Ross greets us as we arrive.  Photo by Ben.Photo: The torrential rain caused the waterfalls to really take off.  This one is exploding down the slope.Video: I went outside the ship with my point-and-shoot, to take a video.  I used my finger to keep the lens clean!Video: View from the front of the ship.  I felt like we were on the Maid of the Mist!Photo: That's me, taking the video.  A good test of my Gore-Tex jacket!  Photo by Ben.Photo: Scott opted for the full-on experience as well.  Photo by Naimh.Photo: We're now on Gribbell Island, on a viewing stand, with a full day ahead to wait for a Spirit Bear to appear.  Luke is doing some quick work on the roof to keep us dry in the pouring rain.  Photo by Ben.Photo: We sit, and we wait!  But we also eat well, since Luke and Miray brought tons of great food.Photo: Our view across the river.  It is very swollen from all the rain, which makes it hard for the bears to fish.  This made us wonder if we were going to see anything.Photo: We pass the time, taking photos of each other with the point-and-shoot.Photo: Success!  A black bear appears upstream.  That's me on the right, shooting with the big lens.Photo: Only about 1 in 10 bears on the island are the white "Spirit" bear, so you'd expect to see a majority of black bears.Photo: But after only a couple of hours, a Spirit Bear appeared!  It was incredibly exciting.  These bears are not albino, but have white fur due to a recessive gene in the area.  The eyes and nose are still black.Photo: It seems to be looking right at us, but for the most part, it completely ignored us.Photo: He gave us a brilliant showing.  I'm impressed that I could actually hold the camera still.Photo: That's my lens, taking the previous shot.  Photo by Ben.Photo: The bear stayed around for 9 minutes, and we couldn't wait for the next opportunity.  Photo by Carolyn.Photo: Luke offers to throw himself into the river, if that would help lure the bears.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Yay!  The same bear gave us a second showing.Photo: It wandered onto the logs upstream, striking more great poses for us.Photo: You can see in this photo how hard it is raining.Photo: The bears obviously don't mind getting wet.  I'm just happy that there was enough light to give a decent shutter speed, so I could freeze the motion.Photo: The bear spotted a fish, and ran over to try to catch it.Video: A great video by Niamh!Photo: Half the group decided to head back to the ship in the middle of the afternoon, but a few of us hung around for the whole day.  We were greatly rewarded, because a different Spirit Bear appeared and put on a brilliant show for us.Photo: Shaking himself off.  In another 10 seconds, he'll be soaked again in the downpour!Photo: Fluffing himself up nicely.Photo: Now, where are those fish?Photo: The bear walked along the far shore, so we ran down from our platform and followed him on the opposite bank of the river.Photo: I couldn't believe the great poses we were getting.Photo: Still hoping to find a fish, but coming up empty.  The high water is great for the salmon, but not so good for the bears.Photo: A final pose, before we had to head back to the ship.  We had 45 minutes with this bear... what a treat.Photo: On board, we celebrate Rick & Carolyn's 42nd anniversary (a few days early).Photo: That's a lot of smoke!Photo: That night, we dock at Hartley Bay and the ship takes on a full tank of fresh water.Photo: Hartley Bay is a First Nations community, with boardwalks instead of roads.Photo: This would be main street, I suppose.  Power is provided by generators.  That's the sewage treatment plant on the left.Photo: The ceremonial building, with great carvings and artwork.Photo: Another view inside the building.  Photo by Linda.Photo: A ferry makes its way along the inside passage, in the midst of a rainstorm.  This vessel is a replacement for the Queen of the North, the ferry that ran straight into Gil Island and sank under dubious circumstances.Photo: Luke pauses to take in some spray from a waterfall.Photo: Photo: This bald eagle looks highly unimpressed with the weather.  Not only that, it has to contend with kayakers pointing cameras at it.Photo: There are always eagles hanging around in the trees.  I tried to position our kayak so that I could get a shot of it flying away.Photo: And success!  I fired off a long burst of shots when it flew, and got a couple that actually worked.Photo: Photo: A paddle up river at low tide meant we had to bring our kayaks in a fair ways on the beach.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Using a telephoto lens, I can get the kayaks and our distant Mothership in the same shot.Photo: At this inlet, there was a semi-decent chance of seeing a wolf.  At least, these relatively fresh tracks gave some hope to that end.Photo: We walked to this viewpoint and had a look at the fine estuary.Photo: Not seeing any wolves, we tried some of our own persuasion.  Photo by Ben.Video: Scott displays his great wolf call (video by Ben)Video: The whole group gets in on the calling.Photo: For a brief moment, there was a patch of blue sky overhead, so Ben just had to grab a photo.Photo: A group shot at the estuary.  Photo by Ben.Photo: The group enjoys another casual paddle in the calm watersPhoto: We were approaching this waterfall, which is the outlet of a large lake.  It was very cool to be there at low tide, when the falls were at maximum height.Video: This is Ben's video from his vantage point as seen in the previous photo (my telephoto lens made them look a lot closer than they really were).Photo: Back on board the ship, we bugged Luke and Miray enough until they gave us a concert of Irish music.Video: Ben's video captures some of the sounds.Photo: Pretty soon, Fern joined in with her violin.Photo: Miray's fingers flying on the flute. (Say that 10 times fast...).Photo: Not to be outdone, Rick pulls out his guitar and entertains us with a mix of old classics and some slightly off-colour songs.Video: Once again, Ben's camera captures the experience of a fine evening on board.Photo: Rick in his element.Photo: The next day, the music continues as Luke finds a huge bull kelp and cuts off the ends to turn it into a horn.Video: Ben's video of the concert.Photo: Next, Rick gives it a try.  Carolyn registers her opinion in the back.Video: Ben's video of Rick's trumpeting, which also shows me taking the previous photo.Photo: Not to be outdone, I give it a good blow.  Photo by Carolyn.Video: Fortunately for all, Ben only captured a couple seconds of my attempt at music.Photo: On our paddle, Luke found this 6-pointed star.  An incredibly rare occurrence --- much rarer than a Spirit Bear!Photo: Kelp crabs are fairly commonPhoto: A quiet moment on the water, and a chance to grab a reflection shot as Caroline and Rick paddle by.Photo: A Great Blue Heron takes off as we approach.Photo: Landing for lunch at a nice sea-shell beach.Photo: I had to get a close-up of the beachPhoto: ...and Ben had to get a shot of me taking that photo!  Thanks Ben!Photo: A porpoise skullPhoto: The rising tide begins to reach the kayaksPhoto: A cormorant takes offPhoto: We were able to get really close to these juvenile loons... quite a treat because they are normally very skittish.Video: We managed to attract them with some loon calls of our own... it worked!  That's Karen and me in the background, getting close to the birds.Photo: Another close-up shotPhoto: It's not raining quite so much, so this eagle looks a little less annoyed.Photo: My point-and-shoot camera is waterproof, so when we paddle over something interesting, I can hold it underwater and shoot.Photo: But the best use of the point-and-shoot is to capture shots of these really amazing sea slugs, called nudibranchs.  There are a wide variety of them, and they are great fun to find and shoot.Photo: A nudibranch on a piece of kelpPhoto: They are about half a thumb-length in sizePhoto: Each one is a wonder to beholdPhoto: Looks like an alien, really!Photo: The trick to photographing them is to scoop them into a plastic bag, and just dunk your camera into the water.  The Pentax Optio has a macro mode with focus to 1 cm, which is perfect for this.Photo: Paddling near open water, it is a bit rougher for a change but quite exhilarating.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Still life shot on the beach.Photo: To access a long beach, we landed on the quiet side of this island and then hiked across through the rainforest.  The old-growth cedar tree in this shot was passed over by loggers in the past, likely because it is so twisted.Photo: Here I am, taking a photo of... a leaf?  Actually, there is a very tiny snail on that leaf, and I am doing my darndest to shoot it with my SLR.  I used extension tubes on the lens to allow me to focus a lot closer.Photo: And there it is!  Absolutely microscopic in size.Photo: Another micro-snail, on the edge of this wood chip.  Miray found both of these specimens... good eye!Photo: I assembled these rocks, and Rick added the starfish, to compose this still-life shot.  A polarizing filter helped to reduce glare (they are quite useful on rainy days, not just sunny ones!)Photo: Here's the huge beach... and we get it all to ourselves.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Carolyn and Rick take a nice stroll.Photo: Niamh at a tide pool.  These are always fascinating places.  Photo by Ben.Photo: Luke throws some mussels into the pool, and Niamh takes a video of the ensuing fish-fight.Video: These guys are vicious!  Even a small crab tries to get a bite.Photo: A beached jellyfish provides a basis for some impromptu artwork.  Photo (and creation) by Ben.Photo: There's Ben, looking for trouble.  Photo by Irene (I presume).Photo: Karen takes in the scene.Photo: Our ship is like a moving oasis... it's always great to see it come by.Photo: ...after all, onboard we get treated to the finer things in life.  Like chocolate fondue!  Photo by Ben.Photo: On our last day, there was time for a sunrise paddle before we had to motor to Prince Rupert.Photo: The sky put on a fine show for us.Photo: Brilliant paddling on calm waters, and no rain.Photo: Miray takes in the great scenePhoto: Karen says, "What's that bright light rising in the sky?"Photo: Time to start heading home!  Prince Rupert is a busy container port.Photo: And here we are --- a great day to end our trip on another high note.Photo: On the flight back to Vancouver, some cool views of the icefields below.Photo: Closer to Vancouver, civilization appearsPhoto: As a parting shot, a final look at the Spirit Bear.  Thanks for the amazing experience!  Mothership Adventures, you are definitely the best.