Salty Words

Sitting atop BC Ferries, I’m watching a seine boat with it’s stabilizer poles pass by. The sun is peaking through the clouds and each time it does I feel too warm. Currently wrapped up in a sleeping bag on the top deck, I long to once again strip down a few layers and suntan. Though since we’re moving further north with every engine put-put-put, I know the clouds should return soon. (Annnnnd the clouds have returned.)

We’re just arriving at Bella Bella- apparently 5 hours north of Port Hardy. This morning we passed Calvert Island’s east coast and Namu- an abandoned fishing community. 

I’m coming home from Port Hardy after a 10 day, 600 nautical mile sail through Haida Gwaii and the central coast, aboard a tall ship called the Pacific Grace. 

When I was 15 I fell in love with a boy who was raised roaming these parts. Since then I longed to explore and understand the central coast more. I listened to stories based out of Bella Bella, Hakai, Namu and the beaches of Calvert Island. On this trip I was able to make my own memories and imagine these stories in the back of my mind. 

At 15 years old I dreamed of epic adventure and love, though did not realize this person had already lived it, here. Annnnd that only the dreams could be mine…

(Too sappy?) 

Okay. Back to this trip! 

The crew of the Pacific Grace stop by the pool each day when they’re moored in town between trips. Last year I was able to connect with them and ask these mysteriously bearded men and mermaid-like women about their lives and work. They invited me for a tour of their home after work one day and I felt very special. This year, when they came through town they had remembered my name and I continued to ask questions. 

Earlier in the year I had applied to the Prince Rupert Port Authority for a bursary spot on a trip, and felt embarrassed when I was not picked. Sailing with these guys was on my mind more than ever. After speaking to friends who had done past trips and meeting the crew again, I decided that it would be worth my while to pay to go as a trainee. By now, though, all trips were full. 

The crew had just come back from a trip through Alaska. Monday, after work, I called their head quarters in Victoria. I said that I was in Prince Rupert, knew they were heading to Port Hardy next, and if anyone couldn’t show up, I’d be ready to take their spot. 

Tuesday, they called me. Wednesday, we left! 

The pool shut down this month and I had taken a week off prior as I always get restless when the shutdown looms. This time I was kicking myself as the weather wasn’t looking good to go to a music festival and tides were off for Oona River. What had I done? It seems it was meant to be though, August 6th was my first day off work until October and it was the exact day the ship set sail too. 

Things lined up smoothly for me to do this trip. I had been curious of the experience for years and with an age limit of 25, time was closing in. It was meant to be, though there were prices to be paid. 

By going on this trip, I missed my best friend from high school pass through town on his move to London. I left in a minor fury and have a mountain of laundry and EI paperwork to do upon return. I want to get out to Oona River one last time and spend time with my cousin Leah. 

The trip cost just under $1800. 
The ferry to Prince Rupert cost $200. 
Transportation out of Prince Rupert around the 23rd will be over $200. 

About $2200 in just over 2 weeks.  

Ugh. This is more money than I like to spend normally. But there’s priorities and some things that one must do to fill their soul, right? Also, I’m on my last leg of living at home. There are many perks to living under ones means. 

I was the oldest trainee onboard, but not by thaaat far. There were folks 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21 and 23.  

It was an awesome contrast to be with the light hearts of youth once again. I was thankful that I had grown up with younger siblings. Although most of my friends are older than me, I was able to mentally adjust to youthful spirits and found their perspectives refreshing, intelligent and pure. 

The group was divided into watches. There were 12 of us in our watch. Our two leaders were incredible. One had been a child actress and is currently a uni student/ epic adventuress. The other was Elske, a majestic mariner. I really looked up to her. If for no other reason, this trip was meant to be so I could watch her at work, in her element. It was incredible. 

The first night at sea was awkward. I didn’t completely trust the toilet- shared amongst 15 girls. And my bunk was more a pathway for folks to get from their bunks to the hatch. It was not working. For every other night of the trip I slept on the table and we used my bunk as a freeway for people to walk on- during dark, rolling nights. Each morning I would wake up a bit early to put it away so people could have breakfast. ( Or… people would wake me up and tell me to get off the table!) It worked so well and instead of waking up at each watch change- I could sleep soundly through the night. *Note for bunk 12!*

There were shooting stars and phosphorescence. There were flat calm seas and mist and swells which knocked me onto an array of different surfaces. We saw 3 ancient village sites on Haida Gwaii. I swam off the boat and at beaches. I napped. Learned to trust and appreciate marine toilets. Ate amazing food. Gained confidence with drumming skills. Asked questions. Judged. Got frustrated. There were unexpected freedoms and limitations. Openness was abundant. I was humbled and insecure at times and felt an old soul at others. 

The ten days passed quickly. Each day full and long. I experienced a lot of equipment and clothing envy (Blundstones, Tevas, Nalgenes, Coastal Explorer) and tried to interact as truthfully as possible. 

For many, a SALTS trip can be life altering. I’m sure it has been for me, but so have several other experiences leading up to it. I still don’t feel like a fully fledged sailor but know now that there are many other youths who dream of sailing. That I’m not alone. I know that the kind of person I hope to become is possible because I saw so many examples of it in others. 

I’ve seen caring men with salty beards and driven,  feminine women who all embrace intentional empowerment and connections. 

My skin is darker and hair scrubbed once again. Overall, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for, but was able to bask in inspiration and belief that I’m moving closer towards it. 

Perhaps my epic, love, adventure, connection, bliss, lifestyle momentum is closer than I could know. 


Last night I felt lonely being by myself in a room for too long. We are closing in on Granville Channel soon. What we covered at a steady 6 knot pace over 10 days, I’ll almost cover in a day on the ferry.

Full of thanks, inspiration, openness, confidence, empowerment, trust and a calm heart to ponder “servant leadership” and journeys. 

Lastly, during a discussion I stated that when I heard the word Christianity- “disillusionment” and “to intentionally walk with love” came to mind first. While anchored at Calvert Island the sunset and conversations flowed with vibrance. There might have been a random outburst of “Praise Jesus!” and I felt mad. Like, couldn’t these people understand that there had been such tragedy,  rawness and pain here? Was I the only one not stuck in this La-la world? 

Then I remembered a truth I realized a while ago. That those who walk with the brightest light have often come through the darkest parts to get there. Perception and how we tell our stories is a choice. 

To walk in light, truth, and abundance forward! Amen.


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