After searching for years for a coastal British Columbia voyage that would take me to remote locations, I finally discovered one. The m/v Aurora Explorer was just the vessel I had been looking for. Departing from central Vancouver Island this freight ship sets off every week to deliver supplies to the lodges, logging camps and fish farms along the remote west coast of British Columbia.
With only a capacity of 12 passengers however in addition to its regular crew, one needs to plan well in advance if they want to take in this unique experience. Spaces in the 6 cabins fill up a year in advance for this ship which sails from May to October.
The m/v Aurora Explorer follows two basic routes along the BC coast. One covers the East coast of Northern Vancouver Island while the other plies the waters East of Central Vancouver Island. The route rarely follows the same path as it all depends on the cargo and shipment deliveries ordered by the companies along the remote shores that are needing supplies.
We arrived just before 4:30 pm and were greeted with a warm welcome to the administration office by Jennine. After receiving our bag tags, we all proceed back to our vehicles to mark our luggage being brought to the ship. The friendly staff, then pulled all marked bags from everyone’s vehicles and loaded them onto the ship while we loitered around the waiting room for a briefing of the voyage.
Guy, the owner, came personally to explain the experience we were all about to have as he talked about the route we would be taking in the next 5 days followed by the types of items and locations we would be stopping at. He also gave us a few safety tips which were helpful considering we were about to take a trip on a working freighter as opposed to a standard cruise line voyage.
Following the briefing, we all made our way to the ship which parked its ramp down on the shore. As I walked on I could see construction cables, forklifts, an outhouse and all sorts of other supplies on the deck of the ship. The types of items spread out on the ship varied but were all destined to a specific place we were about to visit.
We mounted the stairs on the stern of the ship up to the third floor where tables were already set and ready for dinner. We were not yet ready however for a meal as we first had to make sure to complete our safety drill. The alarm was sounded and true to any ocean going experience, we assembled at muster station number one in the common area of level 2 outside of our rooms. Fitting on our life-vests, we all descended the stairs to the aft section of the main deck where we were briefed on the operation of the lifeboats that would be lowered in the rare case that we should need them. The m/v Aurora Explorer is rarely any substantial distance from shore and so I’m sure with any emergency, the ship would just motor to a shoreline location and beach itself to unload passengers.
With that part of our evening out of the way, we all sat down in the main common dining area of the ship for a decadent Salmon Dinner. I was amazed at the meal and portions coming out of the galley of this freighter. It was an incredible three course meal that had us all realizing that we were going to have to monitor our meal intakes to make sure that we don’t add a few pounds during the expedition.
The evening was filled with time to lounge around and talk with the other passengers aboard. It was a very relaxed atmosphere where everyone could just adjust to what was going to be a very laid back 5 day exploration of the BC coast.