I’d always thought Tofino as some sort of sticky pudding, perhaps best served hot, but no, it is a place on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I remembered vaguely hearing the name a few years ago and research led me to the story of a whale watching boat that capsized killing some of those onboard. The accident happened in calm seas and was just one of those things that can happen at sea, it isn’t a kiddies playground after all. There is risk in all things, just driving along a quiet road can end in disaster and so I put the accident out of my mind and booked a whale trip with the operators of the stricken boat, Jamie’s Whaling Station.
To get to Tofino we had to take the two hour ferry from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo, then cross the island to Tofino. We stopped overnight at Jamie’s Rainforest Resort (expensive, tired, better but more expensive accommodation at Best Western Tin Wis Resort), arriving under glorious blue skies. The next morning, Cape Sable Island weather had clearly joined us on the trip and visibility was reduced to 50-100m. Before the whale trip I birded the local beach and had great flight views of Western Sandpipers, flushed as joggers ran past me while I was obviously photographing them, enjoy the herpes I cursed you with guys!
The yard behind our room had flowery bushes and a trio of Rufous Hummingbirds hotly disputed ownership.
We got into town, a sort of hippy place but only for the affluent ones, and made our way to the jetty for the trip. It would run despite the fog, just as soon as they found a bulb to replace the one blown on the boat! One was found in an adjacent boat, hurrah, so we were off. We crept out of the sound and into the gloom, catching sight of the odd Marbled Murrelet barreling past. We picked our way out, presumably into open ocean (but who knows), before finding two Grey Whales. In between Sandra and I picked at the amorphous blobs that occasionally resolved into a bird. Our target was lifer, Tufted Puffin, we didn’t get any but then we could have slipped by 10,000. The whale trips are of the sort that, once a whale is seen, you go back. I have to say that our whale people on Brier give much better value for half the cost. Although I did get some Canada ticks, the whales and a tame Sea Otter were the highlights.
By the time we returned to dock the sun was peeking through. Gassing up for the trek back was done in warm sunshine, turning positively hot later. It would have been nice to spend a few days on the west coast of Vancouver Island but time pressed and it is expensive because it can be. We were back ‘home’ as the sun set and making plans for a trip back into the mountains again the next day.
The Sea Otter showing complete indifference to us.
A Rhinoceros Auklet, named for the spur on the bill, not their diet.
Marbled Murrelet in summer plumage.
Pigeon Guillemot in fog.
Calf Grey Whale.