It’s pouring but I’m well covered in a billowing red Mustang Survival suit. I’ve waddled like an astronaut to the boat, awkwardly taken my seat, and now find myself thrust backwards as though by zero gravity as we bullet across Howe Sound.
We’re wedged between a low grey sky and the surface of this steely waterway, a network of squiggly fjords burrowing into the coastline northeast of Vancouver, British Columbia.
The clouds have parted to reveal densely wooded mountainsides. According to legend a Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, lives hereabouts, an ape-like creature said to roam the forests of the Pacific Northwest.
As if to shake this alarming notion, our guide Darryn Ghislieri steers the boat sharply starboard, pulls the throttle and propels us into a 360-degree, centrifugal arc. Water rushes at us but we’re protected in those ridiculous-looking, yet cosy, waterproof suits and so chortle at the merry-go-round effect of this sudden manoeuvre.
Bringing us to a rest, Ghislieri points to the mountains and the expensive holiday homes cushioned by dense, Sasquatch-concealing foliage.
The glaciers that carved out this fjord were much taller than those mountains, he says, and were estimated to measure 1500m thick. But over eons, the icy behemoths sandpapered away at the jagged peaks, breaking off large chunks of rock that rolled downhill and came to rest on the shores of Lion’s Bay, through which we’re now cruising. It’s upon that rocky debris field that those holiday homes were built.
“We can only imagine what could possibly happen if we ever get the big shake [earthquake] they say we’re due for,” Ghislieri laments. “If that does happen, these very expensive seaside homes could become very expensive underwater homes.”
With that he pulls the throttle and the boat flies northwards to Anvil Island, skating along the water’s surface as it goes.
The first surf scoters (black migratory sea ducks) of spring have arrived; when the weather warms up, Ghisli- eri says, they’ll descend upon the bay in a carpet of black. Though Anvil Island is composed mostly of granite cliffs, cabins are scattered on the gentler eastern shores.
It’s not just the Sasquatch their inhabitants have to fear but hammering waves as big as 2.5m can occur out here in winter, even in the relatively protected Howe Sound.
Although raindrops are popping and crackling against our survival suits, we can see signs of spring in rocks dressed in velvety moss, yellow wildflowers emerging from cracks and broody birds constructing their nests.
“The next generation of pelagic cormorants will be born here,” Ghislieri declares as we cruise past the rocky outcrop of Christie Island.
We’re at the crossroads of three bodies of water now: Howe Sound to the north; the Strait of Georgia to the south; English Bay directly ahead. The city stretches out, flanking the waterway in a glittering arc.
We make our way slowly along the shoreline of West Vancouver, a pod of dolphins dancing in our wake.
There’s a cave gouged from a granite cliffside here, and Ghislieri manoeuvres the boat into its mouth. If the Sasquatch is here, he says, this is where we’ll find it. We shout hello, but our voices echo cold and hollow back at us. Maybe he’s not feeling social today. Or maybe he doesn’t like the look of us in these red astronaut suits.
Catherine Marshall was a guest of Sewell’s Marina.
A Sewell’s Marina Sea Safari Zodiac in Vancouver