Discover the Spirit of the West Coast

Aboard the Water Taxi


[pic of a West Coast beach] [pic of a Lighthouse]

---------------- CLOSED ----------------

March 2015
Until further notice, the Juan de Fuca Express is closed. Brian is concentrating on marine research.

June 2011 An overdue update of this page, and a timely upgrade of the vessel. Over winter 2010-11, the Michelle Diana underwent four months of refitting. It continues to comply with stringent government safety regulations, and bears some design tweaks that Brian is quite happy with.
March 2009 Michelle Diana has been refitted with twin 250 HP engines. This has made possible a very popular option: leaving Bamfield at 12:30 noon and (usually!) arriving Port Renfrew in time to catch the 4:30 pm bus back to Victoria.

Much to Brian's surprise and delight, the faster speed, thanks to the twin engines, has not cost any fuel efficiency. In fact, on a light load, it even saves on fuel.

Although Water Taxi is the generic name for this sort of service, you should view it as more of a cruise. The longer it lasts, the more you will see, and the more you will enjoy the experience.

Brian's Schedule, from June 2011

If I have enough (4) passengers to operate for a particular run, I follow these times:
Leave Port Renfrew Community Dock (old Government Dock) @ 6:30 AM sharp (passengers should be there no later than 6:15 for loading and safety briefing)
Arrive Bamfield East Government some time between 09:45 and 10:00 AM.
Leave Bamfield East Government Dock @ 12:30 noon sharp (passengers should be there no later than 12:15 for loading and safety briefing). Note: If you are having problems getting from Parks Canada Pachena Bay Infocentre and think you will be a bit late, phone my toll-free number 1-877-332-5333 and let me know!
Arrive Port Renfrew Community Dock (Old Government Dock) in Snuggery Cove, sometime between 15:30 and 16:00.
$135 per person, all taxes included. VISA or MC for confirmation. Pay on vessel with VISA, MC, Travellers Cheques, Cash.

West Coast Trail

Based upon 15 years of experience, Brian Gisborne recommends that, if you have a vehicle, you park it near your hiking DESTINATION (Port Renfrew or Bamfield), take transit (e.g. Juan de Fuca Express) to the other end, and hike towards your vehicle. This is because of the extreme unpredictability of the weather. Of course, if you have an open air ticket and your boss doesn't mind if you are a few days late, the direction doesn't matter.

Something for Everyone!

Climb aboard the Juan de Fuca Express and experience an intimate look at the unique beauty of Vancouver Island's rugged West Coast. Whether your interest is in viewing stunning scenery, seeing wildlife, hearing some of the fascinating history, or heading off on your own adventure, a trip on the Juan de Fuca Express will please you!


[pic of hiking along the beach]

The Pacific Rim offers some of the finest hiking in North America. When travelling the West Coast Trail, leave your vehicle at the destination, use the Juan de Fuca Express to travel to your hiking origin, and survey your route! At either end of the route, public transportation is available to take you from town to the trailhead.


Cycle tours of the West Coast can be designed to avoid gravel roads! Customize your own tour of Vancouver Island and use the Juan de Fuca Express to make the necessary sea links!


Get in touch for pelagic bird trips to the continental shelf. Yes, we do pelican research. Interesting recent sightings include brown pelican, sooty shearwater and black-footed albatross. Looking down, it's deepsea (leatherback) turtles. These trips are 20-25 miles offshore, in the Swiftsure bank or La Perousé Bank area.


Crystalline waters, spectacular sealife, and a seemingly endless selection of sites make diving the West Coast a world class event!


Weather on the West Coast can be very changeable. Dress in layers, wear good footwear, and bring a raincoat. Seasickness can happen! Taking appropriate medication prior to departure will ensure a pleasurable trip. The most common complaint on the journey? Running out of battery power (dead battery)! Plan to load up so that the whale story has the photos to prove it and is not just a whale's tale!


[pic of old Sailing Ship] Viewing the wilderness today, it's difficult to imagine that the West Coast has more than once been a hub of human activity. Aboard the Juan de Fuca Express , you'll hear stories of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation, explorers, traders, settlers, land speculators, artists, industrialists, heroes and the hundreds of shipwrecks which led to the moniker "Graveyard of the Pacific". The depicted sailing ship is the Orpheus, built 1856.


[pic of loading boat Michelle Diana]

An experienced seaman, Brian Gisborne was a commercial fisherman for 19 years and has spent his leisure time exploring the coast by hiking, boating, flying and scuba diving. He is an enthusiastic amateur historian and lecturer with an extensive library of research and photos on Pacific Northwest maritime history. His multi-faceted familiarity with the coast is generously shared making a journey on the Juan de Fuca Express uniquely memorable.

Brian recently (2006) had a book published: Basking Sharks, co-authored with Scott Wallace and published by New Star Books out of Vancouver.

[pic boat Michelle Diana in action]


Built in 1993, the "Michelle Diana" served as a gillnetter along coastal British Columbia before its present incarnation as the Juan de Fuca Express water taxi. Fully equipped for a safe journey, it cruises at speeds in excess of 26 knots in good conditions.



Sample 2011 fare:

[pic of Juan de Fuca
Express--Michelle Diana]

Water Taxi

Juan de Fuca Express is a Research Vessel for:
Department of Fisheries and Oceans
National Marine Mammal Laboratory--Seattle
Cascadia Research Collective

Check out these local resources:
Quu'as West Coast Trail Society
Trailhead Resort in Port Renfrew
Blisters and Bliss West Coast Trail stories
Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce
Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce
Bamfield Chamber of Commerce
Sooke Chamber of Commerce
Tourism Vancouver Island

The above links all worked on June 5, 2011.



Send email concerning this web page to: Jonathan Berry, web butler, at

or write to:

Brian Gisborne
427-118 Menzies Street
Victoria, B.C.
Canada V8V 5G6

URL: This web page is:

The text of and images on this page are © copyright Brian Gisborne.
Scanning by Alston Graphic Services Ltd, Victoria BC
Last modified March 19, 2015