In the early dawn hours, National Geographic Venture made her way south down Johnstone Strait, heading for Seymour Narrows. This passage can only be navigated during slack water, which was at 5:00 am this morning. Once through the narrows, National Geographic Venture continued south as we headed for our morning destination of Desolation Sound and a tiny group of islands called Prideaux Haven.
During the night and early morning hours, the ship’s foghorn was frequently on alert. The fog was so thick that it was hard for the bridge crew to see beyond the bow of the ship! After our wakeup call and thanks to the use of various instruments on the bridge, we safely continued our journey south through thick fog. For the next four hours, we continued to weave in and out of fog banks as the sun dipped in and out of our morning. Presentations were held, including the critical disembarkation procedures for our exit tomorrow. As a special treat, one of our guests, Karl Milbauer, brought his extraordinary collection of southwest flutes into our lounge. While telling stories about his deep understanding of “music being the language of the soul,” he treated us to several songs on the flute. We were all fortunate to listen to someone who has traveled as widely as Karl. He has carried his flutes and played them from the Himalayas of Nepal to the desert environment of the Southwest.
The sun finally fought its way through the fog just as we were arriving to our afternoon destination of Prideaux Haven deep inside Desolation Sound. This sound is a large, protected marine park of over 25,000 acres. We would have a chance to hike, kayak, and Zodiac through the narrow channels and tiny islets of Prideaux Haven.
Guests divided into several groups. After all Zodiacs were launched and kayaks were dropped, we made our way to the mudroom and were sent to various destinations to explore the forest and the sea. Within each, we observed the large and small details that make up the natural world of Desolation Sound and the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. The tide was rising, the wind was very light, and we were amidst the height of the changing colors of fall! Every turn provided a wonderful view of bigleaf maple trees changing to a flaming bright yellow. Vine maples were turning red, adding to the fall color. Remaining still for a moment, we could watch as one leaf after another fell from its host tree, circling down to land on the sea. As the tide reached its full limit, every inch of every small channel was a myriad of reflections with the land and water mirroring each other! We found another secret spot filled with moon jellies oscillating through the water at a wonderful slow pace. In another corner, a guest spotted what appeared to be a strange, rather large bird. As a Zodiac approached, it became apparent that an immature snow goose was just a little off track from its migration to winter grounds in Washington State. As our Zodiac approached, the young goose walked down to the water’s edge and looked at all of us before continuing to munch away on some new green grass.
All too soon, it was time for all groups to return to National Geographic Venture for our final evening’s activities. Clouds had been coming in all afternoon, and as we reboarded the ship, our wonderful sunny day was turning just a little grey. It was time to head inside to finish packing and then join our new friends in the forward lounge for a final recap and cocktail hour where we could share stories one last time.