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Smooth Sailing BC's coast

By Jeffrey Rotin
  This must be how early explorers felt. Sailing British Columbia's coastline in a century-old schooner, there's the liberating thrill of hidden beaches in the Queen Charlotte Islands, thundering waterfalls in the Great Bear Rainforest, crystal-blue fjords. The modern world slips away. Even better: you leave no ecological footprint.


     Maple Leaf Adventures has led excursions on its elegant, fully-restored 92-foot vessel - BC's oldest tall ship, the company says - for more than 20 years. And since the beginning, it's been committed to operating sustainably - through education, policy development (Maple Leaf spearheaded an industry code of conduct), conservation work and supporting local communities.
     The eco-cruises leave virtually no impact on the environment. It's in myriad operational details, such as the chemical-free, sea-water-flushing toilets and a rigorous onboard recycling program. A nine-day tour with 14 people typically produces only one can of garbage. Years ago Maple Leaf installed bilge filters on the ship to remove pollutants and send pure water back into the sea. Introducing cloth napkins saved a whopping 7,000 paper napkins per year.
     "We're like a self-contained unit when we sail the coast," says marketing manager Maureen Gordon. "If anybody can tell that we've been somewhere, then we've failed."
     There's really no set route or schedule to the trips - the ship can detour on a whim. All the better to indulge your inner explorer. Or sit on the shore and enjoy the simple pleasure of watching a mother grizzly bear playing in the water with her cub.

Jeffrey Rotin is a freelance writer and communications consultant. His clients have ranged from small arts companies and urban culture mags to CBC Radio and multinational conglomerates-and just about everything in between. He lives in Vancouver, BC.

Photo Credit & Article:
courtesy, Canadian Tourism Commission

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