We just returned from Nootka Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. This was an 11 day senior thesis project for all the seniors to complete their field projects prior to graduation. Some of them studied bottom samples (mud) near the site of an old mill, others studied microbiology, a few studied the mixing of fresh and salt water in the deep fjords and the effects of tidal flushing and others starfish wasting (the starfish on the West Coast are melting away due to a virus). We carried a small boat so that some students could work on their projects in areas we couldn’t take the ship.
As we departed Seattle, there was a very strong low pressure system approaching the coast. As we passed the West end of the Straights of Juan De Fuca and Cape Flattery we were pounded by high winds and swell. Our ship looked like it had an Ebola outbreak as there were sick students everywhere! Luckily for them, we only had to transit approx. 12 hours on the outside before reaching the inside protected waters of Nootka. As the storm passed we had some very nice days. The fjords in Nootka Sound are very narrow in places, sometimes less than three of our boat widths, and very deep (nearly 200 meters). This place is off the grid. We had an internet black hole while we visited the area due to the steep mountains. The locals nearly all travel in small aluminum pilothouse boats. There are a few roads, but many of the towns are 30-50 miles by dirt road. A few use float planes to get around. There are several fish farms in various inlets and we saw one active heli-logging operation. This would be a great place to take your boat and get away from it all.
As we returned to Seattle, we were met with another storm on the outside. A final parting gift for our students to remember. Overall Nootka is very scenic and would be a great place to visit when there were more time to explore the many coves, inlets and nearby lakes.
To all mariners at sea: MERRY CHRISTMAS!