Craig and I are living on The Sunshine Coast in Roberts Creek for two months this summer and man we feel lucky! Beaches; lakes and lush parks, there is a reason they call it Beautiful B.C. Not even a fortnight in and my parents have followed us over so we hired a car and headed north to see what natural delights The Sunshine Coast has to offer starting with Pender Harbour.
Team Orrock and our driver, Craig, hired a car from Prime Rental in Sechelt (the big town, you’ll find McDs and Starbucks here) and hit the highway 101 to the north. The Sunshine Coast is so easy to navigate which was helpful for Craig driving on the wrong side of the road. We drove for less than an hour until we reached Madeira Park where our boat tour of Pender Harbour commenced.
The SloCat Boat tour by Slocat Harbour Tours was actually a recommendation by Martin, the manager of Up The Creek (Roberts Creek). He advised us that all of the small areas around Pender Harbour were reachable by wheels (there was no paved road access until the 60s!) but via the waves is an easier and more enjoyable experience.
We met our captain, Mark, at 3pm and set sail with another group of five. The boat was comfortable with padded seats and was equipped with a hand drawn map (Mark putting his Geography degree to use) and binoculars, which we used to spot bald eagles and blue heron but unfortunately not killer whales like the week before.
The beauty of the tour was not only what we could see – the mountains, the animals, fancy boats and plush houses but Mark’s knowledge and charm!
Mark’s tour is not just a geography tour of the harbour but also a historical, cultural and political tour. He told us stories about shipwrecks, pressure for the input of First Nations, the Sechelt Indian Band and the bust and boom of the housing market.
Mark is originally from Vancouver but fell in love with Pender Harbour – the small drinking town with a fishing problem, after he accidentally stumbled across the area (mainly Ruby Lake) on an impromptu cycle trip. His previous resume not only includes a Geography degree but also tours around Whistler and a radio announcer so the transition to captain of the Slocat Tour was logical. It’s easy to see why he made the transition from life in The Big Smoke to the waves of Pender Harbour.