Back in August I had the great pleasure of accompanying a family who is commissioning me for a painting on a 7 day sailing trip up in Haida Gwaii and I must say it was a trip of a lifetime!
We had one day on land where we had a great tour of lots of the native cultural sites, a museum as well as the spot where the Golden Spruce was cut down.
The next day we hopped on board of MAPLE LEAF, a 92 foot wooden Tall Ship. This beautiful vessel is over 100 years old and an absolute pleasure to be aboard. On the trip south from port we were witness to the immense amount of logging that happened in the recent past as the logging companies, who knew the end was in sight of logging in Haida Gwaii, went on a rampage to collect the massive trees that inhabit the islands up there. One of the coolest moments on the trip was passing in to Park boundaries. Immediately I could feel the ancient forests untouched by man and see nature in it's finest form...pure.
Over the 7 days of the trip we were witness to a multitude of old native village sites which are protected within the Park and manned by the Watchmen, Haida Natives who act as greeters and teachers to all those that visit the sites. We bore witness to countless poles in various states of disrepair. It is a tradition to allow the poles to fall to the ground and return to the earth and not attempt to prop them up or alter them in anyway other than what mother nature wants to do...that's a pretty cool philosophy I must say. It was really amazing to see the very same poles that Emily Carr painted and immortalized so many years ago. It was truly inspiring!
One day when the winds were in our favor we set sail heading back up North and to our amazement, after searching for whales the whole trip, were greeted and followed by at least 20 Humpback whales and 3 Fin whales for nearly an hour an a half. They surrounded the boat and played with us until they became bored and the wind picked up and carried us off at a faster pace. At moments every direction you looked we were greeted with spouts from their blow holes or flukes in the air. It was so amazing I actually had a tear in my eye. To look a creature of that size in the eye and know they see you and are connecting with you is a pretty powerful moment.
On the second to last day we woke early in the morning to a bit of sunshine and after breakfast we hopped in the Zodiaks and headed to Burnaby Narrows. An absolutely amazing tidal narrows that boasts some of the richest intertidal life in the world. This was the area for which I was being commissioned to paint. I dawned my wetsuit and plopped into the FREEZING cold water and snorkeled around snapping as many photos of all the marine life I could. There were Bat stars, sun stars, sea urchin, cauliflower anemones, moon snails, bull kelp, octopus...you name it, we saw it. Not to mention there was a huge jellyfish bloom and there were lions mane jellys almost every 10 feet...this made it a little treacherous to snorkel I must say! I remained in the water until I began to shiver and my memory card was full on my camera FULL of inspiration.
If you have not been up that way I would highly recommend it! Especially soon because the poles will not be standing forever.
You can sea kayak around the park or charter a boat, either way is amazing! I have done both and they both offer a much different experience. The boat is a great way to go if you have the money and don't like camping in the rain (it rains a lot up there). My experience aboard the Maple Leaf was amazing. The crew was fantastic, the vessel was stunning and the food was fabulous. You can get more info on Maple Leaf HERE
I had such a great time on this trip and became so inspired that I am thinking about doing a week long sailing art class aboard the ship. If anyone is interested in partaking on such an adventure please let me know as I would love to share some experiences up there in one of the most spectacular places on earth...and teach you what I know about art at the same time!