If paying to watch someone else work sounds like a strange holiday, you might be surprised at how much fun you can have onboard a freighter. The Uchuck III started its career as a minesweeper in the 1940s and was reinvented as a supply vessel for logging camps, fish farms, and aboriginal communities with no road access. Up to 100 passengers tag along to peek at a lifestyle vastly different from one with roads and big-box hardware stores.
There is no set itinerary on the Uchuck III and no one tells you exactly where you will be going – just that you will return to your starting point of Gold River, a community of 1500, by suppertime – more or less. If the captain takes longer to offload fuel or stops to watch whales, you will be late for dinner.
It was a bit like that when Captain Cook sailed these waters in 1778. His first encounter with Canada was at Nootka Sound where he was so enamored with the sea otters, he stayed to trade for pelts and to claim the land for Britain. Unfortunately for Cook, Spain had already claimed these lands. But Spain had opted for drive-through trading, swapping metal for pelts while anchored never sending ashore a landing party.
That decision almost led to war as Britain and Spain – ignoring the 4000 year presence of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people – disagreed over who had title to the land and lined up their allies. The Dutch backed Britain in the dispute and France sided with Spain. With these superpowers threatening each other, the world’s eyes were on Nootka Sound for twenty years.
War was averted when France decided it was overextended from the French Revolution and Spain searched for a negotiated settlement. By then, the sea otter population had been overhunted and the world lost interest in Nootka Sound.
Now, the world is paying attention again as adventure-seeking tourists come from all over the planet to ride the MV Uchuck III. After the last Canadian sea otter was shot in 1929 a small population of Alaskan sea otters were reintroduced in British Columbia. Now you can see the animals that almost caused a war and enjoy touring the area that spurred our forefathers to extend our country from sea to shining sea.
To see a short glimpse of a day on the MV Uchuck III check out my video at http://bit.ly/19NdsZ9
Get a glimpse of a day on the MV Uchuck III right here: Click to Tweet.
The Uchuck III may seem like a strange holiday but you’ll be surprised how fun it can be! Click to Tweet.