Ucluelet

Up close with Ucluelet’s celebrated visitors

DOC POW

Captain Bob Willott, BC Canada
Captain and tour operator, Bob Willott. 
BRANDON BOUCHER/SnowSeekers

UCLUELET, BC — The west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia is a treasure trove of outstanding adventures that can be had any time of the year. From watching the world go by from the deck of a surfboard or playing pirate from the bridge of Subtidal Adventure’s whale watching vessel, the Dixie IV there are some stellar ways to spend some splendid days. 

And if you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with some of the world’s biggest mammals, step aboard the Dixie and get swept away by the sea.

“There is a 90% success rate of seeing whales and I do about 200 trips a year,” said Bob Willott, who has been with Subtidal for over six years.

“This is what the west coast is all about,” says Willott. 

Cheeky devils

Willott explained that this area is home to about 1,000 whales in the winter months and around mid-March that population expands to about 2,000 through the summer.

“On a recent trip, we had a lady’s hat fly off and it went into the ocean. The whale was on the other side of the boat, but then all the attention moved to the other side while I was working to get this lady’s hat back. As this was happening, the whale must not have been to be happy about loosing the group’s attention – he swam under the boat and popped up with the hat right on his body. I scooped up the hat right off the whale’s back!” he exclaimed. 

The Dixie is a former search and rescue boat which Subtidal converted into a comfortable commercial boat perfect for welcoming people from all over the planet to experience nature at is best.

Whale watching Pacific Rim Park, BC Canada
A whale gives the visitors on board the Dixie a quick flick of the tail. 
BRANDON BOUCHER/SnowSeekers

Being out on the open ocean is a very peaceful existence, as the waves rock the boat up and down, the eagles flying overhead, the seals swimming and if you are lucky, the whales are close by.

Profound moments

We, being such small creatures on this planet, to be able to spend time with these giants is very moving.  Combined with the swells of the ocean matched with the sound of the whale’s breath, it takes you to a different place, one of awe and wonder. It’s something that has brought more than a few people to tears explained Willott. 

And for us, the whales were cooperating just fine. In a three hour period, we came across five whales, three grey ones and two of the mighty humpbacks. One was so close we could see the barnacles on his back as he surfaced for air. He got a breath but I know I was holding mine. Subtidal offers a host of outings throughout the year. Visit www.subtidaladventures.com for more information.

Ucluelet and the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island celebrate the return of its most famous visitors with a exciting festival. The Pacific Rim Whale festival takes place every March and offers an impressive lineup of truly signature west coast experiences. To find out more about this annual event, visit www.pacificrimwhalefestival.com.

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