Discover the Spirit of the West Coast
Aboard the Water Taxi
JUAN DE FUCA EXPRESS
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:
West Coast Trail
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.
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
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.
- The one-way trip was once scheduled to take 4.5 hours,
now can take 3 hours or less with the more powerful engines.
- The one-way fare is $135 (including HST), from Port Renfrew
to Bamfield or vice-versa.
- On the days that it runs, the boat leaves Port Renfrew at 6:30
am, and Bamfield at 12:30 noon. There is not necessarily service on
any day! The season runs from about the beginning of May to the
beginning of October.
- To make a booking, call 1-888-755-6578 (toll-free in North
America) and have a VISA or MC ready. Sorry, Amex is not
accepted. Bookings should be made well in advance and you
should not assume that you can change your date of
travel--especially if no voyage is planned for your new date!
- If Brian accepts your booking, you are set, weather
permitting. Remember that this coast is called the "Graveyard
of the Pacific" and, yes, it is possible for a voyage to be
delayed, cancelled, or even stranded by the weather.
- If you don't make a booking, good luck!
- The phone number on the vessel is 1-877-332-5333 (also
toll-free in North America). You can often find Brian at this
number. However, all bookings still go through 1-888-755-6578.
- If you decide to hike to your vehicle at Port Renfrew, you
might want to know that: the drive from there to Swartz Bay
(for ferry to Tsawwassen-Vancouver) takes about 2 hours 30
minutes, and the last ferry leaves at 9 pm except early August
to Labour Day, when it leaves at 10 pm, and you need to arrive
at the ferry terminal about 15 minutes before the ferry is due
to depart. Alternatively, if you are taking the Duke Point (near Nanaimo)
ferry to Tsawwassen, the so-called Circle Route is now (2011) paved
the whole way from Port Renfrew to Mesachie Lake Junction to
Lake Cowichan and of course from there to the Island Highway and to
Duke Point Nanaimo. The trip takes about 2 hours 15 minutes.
- If you hike towards your vehicle in Bamfield, you will
already know how long it takes to get from Bamfield to Nanaimo,
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!
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!
A FEW SUGGESTIONS
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!
ABOUT LOCAL HISTORY
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
ABOUT THE OWNER-OPERATOR
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
Brian recently (2006) had a book published: Basking Sharks, co-authored with Scott Wallace and published by New Star Books out of Vancouver.
ABOUT THE BOAT
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.
- West Coast Trail (via Bamfield or Port Renfrew)
- Port Renfrew
- Port Alberni
- Swiftsure Bank area
Sample 2011 fare:
- $135 Port Renfrew to Bamfield (about 3 hours)
- Special Charters available
- HST included
- VISA & MC accepted (sorry, no Amex)
JUAN DE FUCA EXPRESS
- scenic, historic routes
- complimentary eco-historical tour
- 22 years of West Coast seamanship
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.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND BOOKINGS:
Bookings: 1-888-755-6578 (toll-free in North America)
Bookings: thru Trailhead Resort 250-647-5468 (outside North America)
Bookings: thru Trailhead Resort
Vessel: 1-877-332-5333 (toll-free in North America)
Brian's home: 1-250-384-4249 (If Brian is in, he will answer; no message machine)
Send email concerning this web page to:
Berry, web butler, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to:
427-118 Menzies Street
Canada V8V 5G6
URL: This web page is:
The text of and images on this page are © copyright Brian
Alston Graphic Services Ltd, Victoria BC
Last modified July 20, 2011