Our Team & Your Safety - Sea Kayaking & Ecotourism Professionals
|West Coast Expeditions is in a league by itself.|
|Paul & Sue B., Yellow Point, BC|
|We have a new appreciation for the true meaning of the word guide... you exemplified the profession.|
|Andy & Judy F., Courtenay, BC|
We take care of the logistics and behind-the-scenes details that help you to fully relax and be absorbed in your holiday, savouring the remote wilderness of your base camp kayaking or expedition kayaking experience on the west coast Vancouver Island.
In January 2016 we were honoured to receive the "Employee's Choice Award" in the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce Community Awards, and were shortlisted as finalists for the Small Business of the Year Award.
Learn about our history - we've has been doing personalized wilderness adventures in Kyuquot since 1972!
Our Team - Managers, Sea Kayak Guides, and Staff
|Bev Michel, manager, is an Indigenous woman with a love and respect for the ocean and nature, as taught by her late dad, Michael Hansen and her late mom, Hilda Hansen, who recently passed in Sept. 2020 as the eldest of the Elders at age 98! Bev has diverse talents and a smile that will make you feel welcome in her home territory of the Ka:'yu:'k't'h - Che:k:tles7et'h' (Kyuquot/Checleset) First Nations.
Her cultural knowledge about the cedar tree and traditional weaving techniques is only part of what she shares. Bev is a trained Assistant Guide through North Island College's Adventure Tourism Certificate, and an experienced west coast boater. She has a dual degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management (Vancouver Island University), which included a study experience in Ghana, has completed her Limited Masters ticket (big boats!), and is an Emergency Medical Responder.
Guests appreciate Bev's comfortable, unassuming, knowledgeable, curious, and helpful nature. She loves being on the water, learning about and sharing her home place. Before West Coast Expeditions and tourism, Bev worked for years in First Nations administration, including as a band manager, bookkeeper, and economic development coordinator.
|David Pinel, consulting co-manager and lead guide, has been playing in salty water all of his life. He has been kayaking, boating, and leading west coast marine adventures since 1985, and organizing personal adventures long before that. Since joining West Coast Expeditions in the mid-90's, guests have long appreciated Dave weaving together the finer details while keeping the big picture in mind. Dave is an honorary member of the Ka:'yu:'k't'h' -Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations through adoption into 2 families.
He spent much of his childhood on lakes in Ontario or immersed in the Atlantic ocean. He fell in love with the Pacific coast as both a student and faculty at Lester B. Pearson United World College (Victoria, BC) and while working in fast-response Coast Guard Search & Rescue for five summer seasons. Dave established and helped grow one of Canada’s first comprehensive sea kayaking instructional centres at Ocean River Sports in Victoria.
|...nobody else has been leading kayak tours there as long. No other paddler knows the area, its weather, and its people, as well as he does.|
|Alex Matthews author of "Sea Kayaking: Rough Waters"|
|Dave is a veteran Guide Trainer and Examiner with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC as an early and long-time contributor to shaping British Columbia's professional sea kayaking practices. Committed to marine stewardship, he is honoured to be a Lifetime Member of the Georgia Strait Alliance having served as a Director from 1998 to 2004, including 4 years as President. He was a volunteer Director with the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC from 2012-2018, and Volunteer Warden of Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve - BC's largest marine ER.
Together with Caroline, Morgan, and the rest of our West Coast Expeditions team, he eagerly anticipates each summer, hosting you and sharing the joy and magic of Spring Island and the Kyuquot area. Despite all this serious stuff, he can let his hair down (oops, he doesn’t have any).
|Caroline Fisher, consulting co-manager, cameo guide, guest services, office angel, and camp host...she loves plying the water in kayaks, exploring beaches and forests, eating well, and laughing. She has been a leader in outdoor education since 1990 and has extensive experience travelling and working internationally in South Africa, Mexico, Central America, New Zealand, and the United States (Four Corners region). Relatively recent forays have also included guiding mothership-based tours in Vietnam and Croatia. Caroline is an honorary member of the Ka:'yu:'k't'h' - Che:k:tles7et'h' First Nations through adoption into 2 families.
A self-professed “ecotourism geek”, she has grown and shared her passion for Responsible Travel at several international conferences and as Faculty with the Capilano University Outdoor Recreation Diploma and Wilderness Leadership Program, and more recently with the North Island College Adventure Tourism Programs.
After many seasons of kayak guiding with top companies in Clayoquot Sound and Johnstone Strait, our Kyuquot location became her “chosen place”! An experienced Level 3 Guide with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC for 6 years, she now maintains her Level 2 Certification. Caroline brings lively energy and a keen sense of fun and humour to our West Coast Expeditions family. Caroline juggles many of the behind-the-scenes administrative and operational details, guides when able, and skilfully pursues her love of healthy eating and delicious food as co-choreographer of our menu and meals.
|Jeanne Rankin, camp chef, brings a lifetime of passionate cooking and baking to WCE, and an inimitably delightful energy and spirit.
She grew up in Winnipeg, and after high school left the prairies to travel the world for several years. On her journeys her love of food and cuisine grew so she settled in London, England to train under the legendary Roux brothers in their Michelin starred restaurants.
She returned to North America and worked in Vancouver and the Napa Valley for several years before moving back to Ireland where she co-owned and ran restaurants, cafes and a bakery for 25 years. She co-hosted 3 TV (BBC) series called Gourmet Ireland, and co-authored 6 cookbooks. The most recent publication, The Well Being Cookbook, was for Cancer Focus (Northern Ireland).
Jeanne returned to Vancouver Island in 2015 to earn her Diploma in Holistic Nutrition at Pacific Rim College in Victoria, BC, and is now halfway through a dual Diploma in Phytotherapy (Herbalism). She now resides in the Cowichan Valley, west of Duncan, BC. Jeanne loves being out in Nature. She is an avid rock climber, hiker and camper. The West Coast has opened the door to being on the water and kayaking now fills her spare time as well. We are thrilled to have her on our team - applying her lifetime of cooking experiences and recent Diploma knowledge in the unique environment of Spring Island and WCE!
|Kellan Thorlakson, assistant guide, is a graduate of the Adventure Guiding Certificate at North Island College (NIC). Kellan decided to pursue guiding after returning from personal travels: he realized there were so many incredible places in his backyard (the west coast of Canada) to get to know and share with others...like Kyuquot! He's pumped about every summer season, and primed to keep building on his training from NIC, and his Assistant Overnight Guide certification through the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.
From the get-go when Kellan joined WCE in 2018, we've appreciated his thoughtful, observant, and caring nature - usually the first one up and the last to bed, wanting to ensure that all details are taken care of so that the next day is ready to go! He likes to help wherever he can, be it on the water, at camp, or in the kitchen - you can always find him lending a hand. Even though it can be hard to tell, as evidenced by this photo, under his bushy beard there is always a smile!
|WOW! A perfect blend of showcasing this magnificent environment, great food, and just the right amount of 'creature comforts'. You are all amazing hosts redefining hospitality.|
|Steve L., Australia|
Your Safety and EnjoymentFrom our website and pre-trip information to your actual adventure holiday with us, we do our professional best to communicate with integrity, match guests with suitable experiences, and have the right people and systems in place to make it happen in fine form.
|Our kayaking guides are trained and certified with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC, Association of Canadian Sea Kayak Guides, Paddle Canada, or as appropriate for the specific program. For over 2 decades, we have helped to set safety standards for guided sea kayak tours in BC and Canada. We follow and frequently exceed industry practices for guide-to-guest ratios, safety equipment, contingency options, and certifications, including appropriate first aid credentials and experience. Our team is carefully selected for complimentary skills and how they make decisions: operating within their training and experience, and keeping our guests' safety and enjoyment at the centre of every decision.
With our base camp trips we have more staff resources and daily flexibility than are typical for a guided kayaking
|There are many resource layers and contingency options for guest safety in our remote location, including: our staff's training and attitude, established base camp facilities and equipment (including substantial first aid supplies), a versatile power boat, local knowledge and network, many communication options (including VHF radio and satellite phone), and proximity to medical care at the Village of Kyuquot's Health Centre (10 min boat ride from base camp and little to no waiting time).|