2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 2 – Sidney – Madeira Park | NW Explorations

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2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 2 – Sidney – Madeira Park

Leaving Sidney in calm winds and golden sun breaks felt better than a fresh cup of coffee this morning…or maybe just a very close second. As the Deception crew saw off the fleet, we started today with smiles on our faces and giddiness in our hearts.

Our 72 nautical mile journey to Madeira Park was initiated north through Shute Passage, spotting soaring Eagles above us and flocks of striking Surf Scoters dodging our wake. Turning into Satellite Channel, our eyes caught the bright white beaches of Portland Island, harboring historic Shell Middens alongside its western coastline.

Shell middens are historic heaps of domestic waste consisting of material such as mollusk shells, animal bones, botanic material, and lithics. With the presence of both artifacts and ecofacts, these heaps provide valuable information about Aboriginal lifestyles. The middens on Portland Island are dated back to over 3,000 years and offer data of diet shifts, community structures, and settlement activities of its first inhabitants.

Exiting Swanson Channel, we cruise into Trincomali Channel and spot our first whales! Two Humpbacks were moving west through the channel about 300 yards off our bow. We could track their travels by footprints left by their blows and we all throttle back, offering the right of way. Humpback whales can exhale a blow over 20 feet high, making it an easy watch on a clear calm day.

These two animals put on a little show exposing their flukes diving into deeper waters. As the seasons shift from spring to summer here in the pacific northwest, the ability to spend time on the water with these large marine mammals increases dramatically. The inside passage becomes a plentiful pit stop for filter feeding whales cruising north to colder, more nutrient dense waters. Humpback migration can span as wide as 5,000 miles with breeding grounds as far south as Costa Rica and feeding grounds as north as southeast Alaska.

Continuing north we reached the tidal slack at Gabriola Passage at the exact minute, making our traverse through the narrows a moment of calm awe. Vegetation surrounding us was a vibrant green and both purple and orange Ochre Sea Stars were hard to miss.

Taking our time site seeing, we heard Bald Eagles chattering and spotted Turkey Vultures flying in concentric circles above the tree lines. These vultures have the largest olfactory of any bird and their ability to smell gaseous fumes of decaying animals spans as far as over a mile away. Although these carnivores feed on what some would say, “easy prey”, they are quite picky and will not feed on a meal that doesn’t omit the carrion gas they are so viciously searching for.

Approaching Madeira Park in Pender Harbour, we spot the Merry Island light house welcoming us into Welcome Pass. With the sun breaking even further through the clouds with the snow-covered peaks of Vancouver Island on our port side and the Coast Mountain range along our starboard, we feel greeted with elegance.

Leading the fleet, Deception turns into Pender Harbour and instructs each vessel to drop their anchor once tucked in. Here we secure our vessels for the night and take in the beauty of our surroundings as the daylight fades into a pink and yellow sunset. Dinner is prepared and crew spends time among themselves, truly soaking in the wonder of our journeys had, and our journeys to come.

P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Mother Goose AK Flotilla. charters@nwexplorations.com 

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