2023 Princess Louisa Flotilla – Day 2 Lay Day at Sidney Harbor - NW Explorations
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2023 Princess Louisa Flotilla – Day 2 Lay Day at Sidney Harbor

Sidney is a beautiful, flower-filled city located on Cordova Channel on Southeast Vancouver Island. Guests spent the day provisioning and enjoying the local shops and restaurants. We were joined by families on two more boats, Memories and Pilot House, that will join the flotilla on our journey to Princess Louisa Inlet. We all met at the Sidney Northwest Explorations office in the evening to have an orientation meeting, discuss safety, and an opportunity to socialize over some snacks and drinks.

Sidney, a small tidy city, is surrounded by beautiful waterfront promenade that hugs the shoreline and is dotted with colorful flowers that makes for a delightful walk anytime of day.

Double O’ Seven’s crew decided to use the day to travel to Butchart Gardens, an enchanting collection of various themed gardens built between 1906 and 1929 in a closed limestone quarry. The gardens include but are not limited to, Japanese Gardens overlooking Butchart Cove, a regal Rose Garden filled with every type or rose imaginable, and an area known as the Sunken Garden overlooking ponds and spectacular fountains.

Miguel and Candice and their two children, Stella and Evan, boarded Memories. While Mom and Dad settled in, Stella and Ethan were keen to look for intertidal critters clinging to the docks. Evan found kelp with a hitch-hiking kelp crab and green isopod. Stella found limpets and chitons clinging to the dock and both a moon jelly and water jelly which she quickly identified using a guide. Raised locally, both kids are very familiar with the local marine creatures and enjoyed finding them.

The marina is full of wildlife right there at the docks. An egg-yolk jelly with a bell larger than a dinner plate floated between the boats and a harbor seal popped its head up every now and then to check out the new arrivals.

Later in the evening, as we headed up the docks for dinner, a great blue heron was spotted stealthily hunting for dinner in the intertidal region in front of shore-front condominiums. As darkness fell, a commotion at the bow of Patos! A twenty-inch long “snake”!?  Swimming between the bow of the boats was not a snake, but actually a beautiful flattened marine worm with turquois stripe running the length of its body. It was attracted to light, so we were able to keep it swimming nearby giving everyone had a chance to admire it.

Following the excitement, it was late and time to turn in to allow us all to be prepared for a long day crossing 77nm across Georgia Strait and north to Madeira Park. Georgia Strait is a wide body of water that requires some planning and regular checks on weather conditions before departure. So far things are looking good, maybe we will see some whales? It is a definite possibility. The coast of BC has high biological productivity, and a variety of habitats support rich biodiversity. Of all the marine mammals that exist worldwide, 25% utilize BC waters! Some of the more common mammal residents include humpbacks, both Resident and Transient orcas, both Stellar and California sea lions, dolphin, porpoises, sea otters and many others…with this cast of characters, we are hoping for a show.

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