We are a green business here at Ocean Outfitters, and we put a lot of energy and financial support into keeping our local environment clean. It is part of our core values as a company, and as individuals who spend every day on, or in the ocean. Which is why we were thrilled to hear that some of our guides have taken actions into their own hands, and have started a new organization, Clayoquot CleanUp, to initiate a major citizen-lead clean-up effort in our local waters.
Old Hans Shumer eyeballed me from across the lounge in our booking office the other day. Sitting in the corner sipping his coffee, he had positioned himself in the perfect spot to survey the room, keep his back protected against the wall behind him, and have two clear paths to the exits should he for whatever reason suddenly need them. Perhaps it was a coincidence that Hans chose this location to enjoy his morning coffee, but perhaps it was not.
I was oblivious to Hans’ penetrating stare when I walked in the door and made my way towards the booking counter. I’d just returned from a full day on the water with a family from the USA and I wanted to check with the front end staff to see what was on my schedule for tomorrow before deciding which equipment needed to be prepared for the next day.
This trip will be an all day excursion to some of the offshore banks and canyons in search of albatrosses, shearwaters, storm-petrels and other pelagic birds. Exact route to be determined based on local weather, fishing activity, and up-to-date recon of where birds seem to be concentrating. Our goal is to bird out to, and then along, the shelf edge near one of the large offshore canyons about 35 miles off the coast.
Despite having access to the boundless imagination that most ten year olds are privy to, young Charlie Hoffman likely had no idea what he was getting into when he boarded my boat for a fishing trip the other day. We mustn't fault him. In all of Charlie’s secret dreams in the weeks leading up to his vacation even he couldn’t prepare himself for the adventure that lie ahead.
Shortly after daybreak Charlie and his family showed up at the marina wearing broad grins, their eyes twinkling with anticipation. Their excitement was contagious and I couldn’t help but smile as I assisted Charlie, his mother and grandpa aboard the boat.
After stowing their gear I gave them a quick safety orientation and showed them where the lifejackets and fire extinguishers are kept. When I finished the orientation I turned to mom and grandpa and told them to make sure they pay close attention to the captain. “The captain is always the boss” I told them, “so be sure to follow his orders. No exceptions!”
With that I turned to Charlie and asked him to hold out his left hand...
Jenny Mustard, my young and boundlessly energetic golden retriever, is eyeballing me in exasperation as I type this report. She’s perched on a nearby cushion, head thrown over the back of the couch, moaning and barking in the direction of the woods outside as if to say “Dad, it’s a nice day out there. Please get off the stupid computer and lets go outside and fish.”
Jenny Mustard has proven herself to be a dependable fishing companion over the past year since she made the journey over the Rocky Mountains, across the Salish Sea and down the emerald river valleys to Tofino. She’s mastered the art of saltwater fishing since she arrived on the coast, and includes trolling, jigging, and hauling traps for crabs and prawns in her repertoire. She will chastise me with her growling and barking if the action is slow, and closely inspect all manner of species to ensure their quality and quantity when we indeed manage a catch. Her watchful eye comes in handy when sea lions and whales are about, though thankfully she has firmly given up jumping overboard in pursuit of them - particularly when the boat is running at full speed...