At $55,000 a week, a luxury yacht cruise through British Columbia’s Gulf Island isn’t for the fiscally-challenged. The Pacific Yellowfin draws a clientele of high-rollers who don’t mind dropping some coin on a pimped-out ocean holiday. Just last week members of Pearl Jam chartered the yacht and explored the islands and inlets that stretch 120 Km across the Canadian/US border.
A week on this cruise costs more than I make in a year, yet there I was, sipping cocktails on deck like a rock star. This is one of the perks of being a travel writer. It’s a job that affords me luxuries I can’t afford myself.
The wind in my hair, I embraced first-class living on this two-night, three-day maritime expedition.
Compared to the gleaming fiberglass speedboats docked at the harbour nearby, the Pacific Yellowfin is understated. She a classic wooden ship, with a history as diverse as Forrest Gump’s. Through the years she’s been a World War II coastal freighter, a tuna research vessel and a houseboat that accommodated a hippie commune of flower power. She’s travelled clandestinely to search for Che Guevera and was involved in the Bay of Pigs.
Today the Pacific Yellowfin is owned by Captain Colin Griffinson, an Irishman who renovated and converted it into a luxury charter yacht. A 114 footer that sleeps eight, the Pacific Yellowfin offers gourmet food, specially cooked by an executive chef, day excursions to nearby islands and a lot of toys: jet skis, wakeboards, mountain bikes, water-skis, kayaks, water trampolines, air rifles, fishing gear and 49 cc motor scooters.
For those who dig boats, a trip to the engine room is yacht porn.
71-year-old Chief Engineer Jack Dixon, gave me a tour and ran through the daily mechanics of operating the vessel. He showed me the slow turning engines built in 1939 and the reserve tanks containing 18,000 gallons of diesel. “We could travel to China non-stop,” Jack told me in his grisly, sea dog voice.
Instead of making our way to Asia, we anchored at Lyall Harbour, hopped into a smaller motor boat and toured the surrounding inlets.
For those who are into wildlife, the Gulf Islands are home to orca whales, harbour seals and Steller sea lions.
I was lucky to see a threesome of sea lions basking their obese slippery bodies on a rocky outcrop. As we approached, the dominant male perked up, waddled around and barked loudly. They were much bigger than I’d imagined, some can even reach weights of 1000 kg.
“Don’t make eye contact with them” warned the Captain. Apparently, if they catch you looking at them, they’ll slink into the water and disappear. As they tan in the sun, I observed them sneakily.
With this caliber of animal viewing, it’s hard to imagine that I was only a 20-minute seaplane flight away from downtown Vancouver.
After an indulgent stay, it was pumpkin time. My days of playing Cinderella on the seas were over, and was time to return to my life as a lowly land-dweller.
Exposure, a Vancouver-based tour operator specializing in luxury travel, offers the “Gulf Island Gourmet,” a three-day expedition aboard the Pacific Yellowfin. Fore more information visit http://www.exposure.travel
For more articles, videos and travel tips, visit juliadimon.com
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