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Ocean Harvest Cruise panorama view



Story and Photos By Tom and Kathleen Kjaersgaard 

Ocean Harvest Cruise great foodWe met Bobby Sherlock in Ucluelet on the West Coast of Vancouver Island onboard his Hunter 340, Pegasus, near British Columbia’s Barkley Sound. The Broken Group Islands would be our home, for the five of us, for the next few days. The Broken Group Islands are located are on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, in an area known as Barkley Sound and are only accessible by boat. 

With fishing licenses in hand, and after a thorough tour of the boat, we talked with our skipper about the evolution of his unique Ocean Harvest Cruise. It seems like a natural fit for Bobby to lead such an adventure, with his education in outdoor adventure training and having cooked in professional kitchens since he was 15 years old. This former sea kayak guide turned avid sailor, Bobby combines his love of the untamed and unspoiled ocean environment with his love for food. And the best part is – he shares his passions and knowledge with others.

Ocean Harvest Cruise Kathleen

Just as we leave the dock, Bobby points out a nearby black bear on the shore, foraging for food. Moments later, his keen eyes spot two Bald Eagles perched in trees supervising the comings and goings in the channel. This is exactly what we craved - experiencing the unspoiled Wild Pacific in any way possible.


Our first adventure was near Chrow Island/Sargison Bank, where there is a kelp reef. The weather was just perfect…so Bobby had Tom jig alongside the reef, where he quickly reeled in a beautiful Ling Cod. With our first catch in hand, we then carried on to the lee side of Forbes Island, where we dropped the hook for lunch, and thus the official beginning of The Ocean Harvest Tour.

Chef Bobby quickly prepared fresh seared sushi-grade Tuna sourced in Ucluelet, accompanied by arugula salad with a chili-lime balsamic reduction and Campari tomatoes.  Bobby then prepared a ceviche with the Ling Cod, which we would eat the next day. Ceviche is a centuries old method of cooking by contact with the 

Ocean Harvest Cruise Skipper Bobby

acidic juice of citrus juice instead of heat. Ceviche is easy to make and can be prepared as a meal or as a fabulous appetizer onboard – the next time you’re entertaining. The remains of the cod were then used to bait crab pots which we put in near the entrance to Pipestem Inlet, at a depth of 50 feet. The promise of harvesting fresh Dungeness crab on the way out the next day was incredibly exciting. And as if that wasn’t enough, farther into Pipestem Inlet, we dropped our three prawn traps at 225 feet, to retrieve these the next day.


At the base of Pipestem Inlet, we shared the quiet, scenic anchorage with one other boat. We headed ashore to forage for fresh oysters. Once onshore we realized we were also sharing our anchorage with a resident Black Bear. We saw the bear just after we secured a bucketful of Pacific oysters (the shoreline was covered in them) and sea asparagus.  Back on board we shucked and devoured a bucketful of fresh shucked raw oysters.  For dinner, Bobby prepared pan-seared fresh halibut (sourced from his supplier in Uclulet) with a fruit salsa and citrus asparagus, accompanied by an Okanagan white wine, a 2011 White Bear Spirit Blend.

“The highlight each day – was just breathing the fresh ocean air, with Bald Eagles soaring overhead, being surrounded by beautiful ferns, and the greenest moss hanging from the branches of towering spruce trees, that – and the un-ending bounty of the ocean at our feet “.

Ocean Harvest Cruise family vacation

Day two and the scenery was simply spectacular, with a light mist coating the trees giving everything a spectral feel. Another Bald Eagle monitored our progress to the prawn traps we had set the day before. Unfortunately the prawn traps came up empty on this day, but Bobby said not to worry, he had a “prawn hot-spot” in mind – one that had never let him down. So we made our way back out to the entrance of Pipestem Inlet, wondering just how our crab pots did. Victory!! We caught two beautiful Dungeness crabs, one three pounder and one closer to two pounds. 

We sailed onto the Sechart Channel area of Barkley Sound where we then re-set the prawn traps, hoping to harvest a future bounty! From there it was on to Nettle Island to anchor for lunch. After lunch, we sailed along the Imperial Eagle Channel in beautiful sunshine and at just the right speed to “sail + troll” for salmon. Indeed - we had “Salmon-success” trolling with a downrigger at approximately 100 feet of depth. We reeled-in a five pound hatchery Chinook salmon.  Skipper Bobby pointed out a sure-fire method for identifying a hatchery Salmon. Hatchery fish, he 

Ocean Harvest Cruise eagle

showed us, are easily identified because they feature one missing small fin, the adipose fin. We were happy to catch a fish that was from a hatchery!


After the exciting salmon catch, we carried on to Jane Bay, and stopped in at the beautiful Eagle Nook Resort to secure a few supplies. The Eagle Nook Resort is an island gem. It’s approximately 70 acres in size, surrounded by Crown land and adjacent to the Pacific Rim National Park.  On board Bobby prepared our beautiful and fresh salmon for dinner, accompanied by bacon wrapped scallops, our own Dungeness crab and an arugula salad.  

Ocean Harvest Cruise Ucluelet Harbour

Much later that night, our skipper/guide/host/chef Bobby showed us just what bioluminescence in the water was – just amazing to see. Most often, bioluminescence is actually plankton that produces its own light by way of a chemical reaction.  The impossible and stunning galaxy of glowing dots in the water, was matched every bit by the star count in the night sky.

The next morning Bobby had us out “Clamming” at the end of the bay, with a rake! There are so many Manila clams there, that you don’t need to dig at all!  The Manila clam is a shallow burrower found in the first two inches of sand/gravel, so they were easily harvested by us raking lightly, and even hand digging. We took the opportunity to pick up a few more oysters – and then headed back to the boat. On the way, Bobby spotted a Bald Eagle perched in a tree along the shoreline. We got in close enough to get some spectacular close-ups! 


Ocean Harvest Cruise Dungeness crabFrom Jane Bay, we headed out to the west side of Bamfield, which is only accessible by boat, and enjoyed walking the unique boardwalk that meanders by many of the residences. In a small outdoor Café, we enjoyed coffee, biscotti and the view of the harbour and East Bamfield. On our way out of the harbour, it became quickly apparent that there was a lot of salmon fishing going on – there were many boats trolling back and forth, so we thought we’d give it another try. We came close with one of the lines suddenly pulling taught. Unfortunately, the salmon got away. Our attention was quickly diverted when seemingly out of nowhere, Bobby spotted the spout of a whale. He has much better eyes (he’s a trained outdoor guide after all) than the rest of us, so it took the rest of us a little while before we saw what he had. We were close enough to get a few photos as the whale quickly made its way out towards the ocean.  

We motored back through the Sechart Channel, where we ultimately had big-time success with the prawn traps! We pulled all three traps up from 150 feet of depth, and striped and spotted prawns were crawling all over the place! 


Ocean Harvest Cruise good timesLater we made anchor, re-visiting Nettle Island, where Bobby prepared a fabulous lunch of prawns and Manila clams. We carried on our way from there to Effingham Island, a popular, protected and tranquil anchorage. Bobby’s dinner presentation was a fabulous mix of our fresh salmon, clams, and sundried tomatoes, served over pasta and topped with sage, oregano and parsley. 

Once back in Ukee (as the locals refer to Ucluelet), and after having had the single-most unique charter experience ever, we thanked our intrepid guide and incredible host. Bobby’s incredible adventures like the Ocean Harvest Tour will be available again next year, with a slight change to the fleet!  There’s a possibility of a new vessel, maybe even a 40 foot catamaran for 2015!

After such a great trip our planned expeditions for 2015 include Orca and Grizzly adventures through the Inside Passage and Great Bear Rain Forest. Standby for adventure!

 


Ocean Harvest Cruise West Bamfieldwww.wildpacificsailing.com

 

Photos 

Photo 1 - Panorama, typical of our daily views.

Photo 2 - Bountiful meals on the Ocean Harvest Cruise. 

Photo 3 - Taking in the beautiful scenery abounds off the west coast of Vancouver Island. 

Photo 4 - Skipper Bobby Sherlock with a hatchery Salmon that we caught during our cruise. 

Photo 5 - A great family vacation on the Ocean Harvest Cruise! 

Photo 6 - A Bald Eagle watching our progress. 

Photo 7 - Ucluelet Harbour - a working harbour that also hosts leisure vessels. 

Photo 8 - Dungeness Crab that we caught at Pipestem Inlet. 

Photo 9 - Good times and great meals onboard.

Photo 10 - The boardwalk in west Bamfield.