Is there anything more beautiful than the coastline of Vancouver? Seriously spectacular! Many of us see this beauty from land as we walk the seawall, explore Granville Island, or set up shop on one of our countless beaches. Yes, we can take the ferry from the mainland to Vancouver Island but I don’t think anything can rival a personal charter tour around the Vancouver harbour.
We recently spent a glorious (and much too short) 5-hour day with the friendly folks from Ocean Adventure Centre. I kid you not those 5 hours flew by! And that was with the 5 & 7 year olds on board with us.
Our day started with a 10:30 am departure from the Plaza of Nations dock. Our Ocean Adventure Centre crew, Preston and Shay, were friendly and incredibly knowledgable. I loved the fact that the second my kids stepped on board, PFDs were snapped onto them. While they can swim, we aren’t playing chicken with 2-foot waves! Despite glorious sunshine and a beautiful blue sky there was wind. A surprising amount of wind. Ever the professionals, the Ocean Adventure Centre team were quick to figure out a new game plan. While the original plan was to fish around the UBC point, we made our way over to the North Shore and Horseshoe Bay.
Despite my best intentions I never feel particularly organized as a parent. I’m much more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants and fake-it-til-you-make-it type parent. However, on the morning of our ocean adventure, I got one right. I gave the kids a dose of Gravol two hours before we set sail. Now, if only I had done the same for myself! The waves were keen between Vancouver and West Van. They were also super excited around Point Atkinson. Once we reached the calm waters of Horseshoe Bay, my stomach righted itself and the fish started biting.
In less than 5 minutes “fish on” echoed around the boat. One of the 4 lines in the water was bouncing! A crew member gave the line a hard tag (helps prevent the fish from slipping off the hook) and handed the line to my husband. In no time at all we had a lovely big Chinook salmon flopping around in the boat.
Over the past year, my husband has done his utmost to get our family interested in fishing. Poor guy, the odds have been against him. Almost every time we head out the skies open and it pours with rain. If it is sunny, we catch nothing. Now, after experiencing fishing the Ocean Centre Adventure way, I’m hooked! Name the time and place, and I’ll go fishing with those guys any day! They take care of all the not-fun stuff: baiting the line, getting the line into the ocean at various depths to intrigue the fish, identifying & measuring the fish, bonking the fish, and – best of all – cleaning the fish on the dock. As a guest, you get the fun stuff: relaxing on deck, sight-seeing, reeling in the fish, and eating your delicious catch! Now if you wanted to do more, I’m sure you could but I was more than happy to sit back, enjoy the gorgeous view and the “fun” parts of fishing.
My youngest son and I were skunked…sort of. He had 2 wriggly Coho slip off the hook; I brought in 2 puny-sized fish. My eldest son, however, landed a Coho. It was actually big enough to feed us for dinner. I loved the fact that every time we got a nibble, the Ocean Adventure Centre team told us whether it was a good fish for the kids or the adults to reel in.
In addition to the salmon fishing, we dropped 2 crab traps in the water just off Dundarave. When we returned, we were shocked to see 19+ crab crawling around inside. My little ones were disappointed to discover not all of the claw-snapping creatures were coming home with us. After a life-cycle lesson for the kids, and tossing back the females and the under-sized males, 5 crab came back to shore with us. Utterly wonderful in my opinion!
What a feast we had that night! Five crab and the Coho! The Chinook is in the freezer ready to feed us a few more meals in the future. While the ocean-food was a real treat, our time with the crew from Ocean Adventure Centre was the highlight of our day. From their chatty and engaging personalities, to their genuine interest in teaching our kids about fishing, I honestly think any family would have an unbelievable experience out on the water with them.
Here are a few tips when planning your own Ocean Adventure Centre family trip:
- give the kids (and yourself) Gravol two hours before you set sail
- pile on the sunscreen – the water reflects a lot more than you expect
- pack a lunch – meals aren’t provided but you are welcome to snack on board as much as you want
- wear layers of clothing – while it may be hot on the mainland, the wind keeps life rather cool on board
- bring sunglasses – again the water is much more reflective than you expect
- pack a hat – make sure the hat fits snuggly or use one with a chin strap (it can be mighty windy out there)
- go to the bathroom ahead of time – while there is a bathroom on board, the process is so much when waves aren’t involved
- bring lots of water – the ocean’s salt water isn’t going to satisfy anyone’s thirst
- pack a cooler – don’t bring the cooler on the boat, but have one ready in your car to bring home your catch
In addition to salmon and crab charters, the Ocean Adventure Centre books their boats for the Celebration of Light Fireworks. I can only imagine how wonderful the fireworks would look from the ocean without throngs of people. And…could you imagine a more perfect gift for Father’s Day? A family outing on one of the 5 Ocean Adventure Centre boats.
Ocean Adventure Centre:
Address: 760 Pacific Blvd, Vancouver
Phone: (604) 240-3474
Although we do our best to provide you with accurate information, all event details are subject to change. Please contact the facility to avoid disappointment.