Is it safe to bring a camera?
We seldom get spray coming over the boat unless it is really windy and the seas are choppy. Rain can occur at any time so we do recommend people bring a dry bag or a simple plastic bag to keep the rain off. There is very little storage room so we do not recommend bringing a big camera bag.
What do you recommend we bring on the tour?
We suggest you wear sunscreen, bring a sunhat and sunglasses. Having a warm hat and gloves is advisable incase the weather changes. Some people like to bring binoculars to have a really close look at some of the wildlife. They are handy for spotting whales also.
Are there toilet facilities onboard the boat?
We have a marine toilet in an enclosed space underneath the driving console. It is easy to use and has enough standing room for the average height. It is not spacious but certainly does that trick.
How many people can the boat take?
Our vessel is certified to take no more than 12 passengers. This does not include the skipper and naturalist. There is plenty of room to stand and walk around the boat when the boat is stationary. We pride ourselves on offering a much more personal tour.
Do we have to wear a life-jacket onboard the boat?
We are Transport Canada certified which means we do have to wear some kind of floatation device. Due to the open boat arrangement and the speed which we can do, we provide floatation suits. They really add to the comfort of our guests especially when the weather is rainy or cold. They also make for a fabulous photo to keep as a memoir of your trip.
When is the best time to go whale watching, the morning or afternoon tour?
It is very difficult for us to give you the best time to go on a tour. The whales can arrive in the area we visit at any time of day or night, and stay as long or as short as they like. They are such dynamic creatures. Another thing to consider is the weather. The prevailing northwest winds can pick up at any time. Thankfully we have a forecast which helps us predict the weather. Sometimes it is windy in the morning and the wind drops by afternoon, or the other way around. It is always a gamble when viewing wildlife.
When does your season start and finish?
Our season typically starts mid-June and ends at the end of September. It is certainly worth contacting us as each season it slightly different.
What whales are we likely to see?
In the area we operate we can see a number of different species of whales. Our most common sighting in the summer are our resident Orca, Humpback whales and Minke whales. Occasionally we see Biggs (Transient) Orca and Alert Bay once had a grey whale which spent the entire summer foraging around Cormorant Island. You just never know what you are going to see.
What other species are we likely to see?
This area is well known for the diversity of wildlife. It is a smorgasbord of food for many creatures in the food chain and is critical habit for particular species. We not only have a variety of whales in the area, we also have a number of other marine mammals which includes seals, sealions, porpoises, dolphins and even sea otters which have recently started showing up in the area. We also have a range of birds including the Bald eagles and numerous other seabirds. It truly is a birding paradise.
I really want to see Orca. What are our chances of seeing Orca?
Due to the migrating salmon, the main food source for resident Orca, they are frequently seen in this area from mid-July through to October. At times they can travel 100+ miles out of our range so there is the occasional day that Orcas are not seen. There are a number of boats out on the water who communicate with eachother using a marine radio. Most of the companies work as a team when on the water, therefore information is shared amongst the vessels if whales are sighted. Having the ability to go fast, gives us a chance to cover the area well when searching for whales. We also have the odd sighting of Biggs (Transient orca) which feed on marine mammals. They can arrive at any time of the year. We often see these whales during our off season which is very exciting.
Where is your office located?
The Seasmoke Office is situated in Alert Bay right at the BC ferry terminal. When you are exiting the ferry and still in the terminal area, it is directly on your left. Look for the Seasmoke sign and the sandwich board which has our tour times and tour availability.
How do we get to Alert Bay?
Alert Bay is situated on Cormorant Island and is accessible by car ferry from Port McNeil. Port McNeil is two hours north of Campbell River.
The ferry leaves Port McNeil heading to Alert Bay approximately every two hours starting at 840am and ending at 930pm. During the summer the ferry can be busy so I recommend getting in the ferry car line up early.
What else can we do in Alert Bay
Alert Bay is worth visiting for at least a day or two. It is a small enough Island that you are able to walk everywhere so a car is not necessary.
It is rich in First Nation culture therefore you are able to see the World’s largest totem pole, visit our ‘Namgis burial grounds, see a cultural display in the Big house and even go on a ‘Namgis First Nation tour around the Island.
The highlight of visiting Alert Bay is the U’mista Museum which is world renown, not to mention the friendly locals who call this place home.
We have all facilities required to make you comfortable. This includes a grocery store, hardware store, restaurants, bank, post office, library and information center.