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 had the honour of receiving 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.
Our Team - Owners, Sea Kayak Guides and Staff
|David Pinel, managing owner 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's dynamic, inspiring, and intuitive leadership style that weaves together the finer details while keeping the big picture in mind.
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, and has been 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 after serving as a Director from 1998 to 2004, including 4 years as President. Currently he is a director with the Wilderness Tourism Association of BC, and is the Volunteer Warden of Checleset Bay Ecological Reserve - BC's largest marine ER.
Together with wife Caroline, son 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, owner, guide, guest services, office angel, and camp host, 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.
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 skillfully pursues her love of healthy eating and delicious food as co-choreographer of our menu and meals.
|Bev Michel, co-owner, is an Indigenous woman with a love and respect for the ocean and nature, as taught by her late dad, Michael Hansen and her mom, Hilda Hansen, one of only a few remaining Ka:'yu:'k't'h Elders (now 95!) from her generation. 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, and is currently completing her Limited Masters ticket (big boats!).
When she's able to join us on Spring Island, our 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.
|Sarah Osberg, a top-tier lead guide, loves adventure, fun and the open coast. She was taught wilderness camping and ocean travel from an early age in open freighter cedar canvas canoes, along BC's coast, getting to know the giant cedars, thick step mosses, gangly cormorants, and oddities of sea stars. Sarah is an instructor and full-time faculty in the Adventure Studies Department at Thompson Rivers University, where she finds as much time as possible to explore mountain or ocean wilderness settings.
Some of the other places that she has led sea kayaking and other outdoor programs are with Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre, Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training program (COLT), high school outdoor experiential education programs (Explore, TREK, and Nootka Sound Outdoor Program), Outward Bound,
Having taught at the Kyuquot Elementary and Secondary School in 2013/14, she is thrilled to continue her connection with the Kyuquot people and area through WCE, guiding in what she considers one of the most beautiful places for kayaking and coastal living - the world just south of the Brooks Peninsula! With West Coast Expeditions guests, Sarah always looks forward to sharing a love of self-propelled travel, competencies with outdoor skills, and admiring the natural world while learning new things every day.
|Graham Vaughan, international man of mystery and veteran Level 3 lead guide, is in his happy place on the water sharing his vast knowledge and love of the ocean and its critters. Graham is a graduate from Capilano University's Wilderness Leadership Program and now instructs as faculty with North Island College's Adventure Guiding Certificate, and Thompson River University's Adventure Studies programs.
As a Level 2 Instructor with Paddle Canada, and an Examiner, Guide Trainer, and volunteer Director with the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC, Graham is committed to ensuring that guided sea kayaking experiences are top-notch. He is passionate about marine education and conservation, and is currently pursuing that through a Masters degree program at Royal Roads University. Graham has paddled the BC coast to Alaska, and is always scheming his next adventure with friends!
|Ryan Sabbas, assistant guide, is from Kyuquot and appreciates learning more about and sharing his home territory with guests. His infectiously happy and helpful energy makes for great company on land and water. Ryan is a graduate of the Aboriginal Ecotourism Training Program through a partnership between North Island College, Vancouver Island University, and the Heiltsuk Tribal Council.
He is part of a young generation of Indigenous guides who are embracing their cultural heritage while refining professional guiding skills as wilderness leaders. He also thinks he's funny, and usually is! Going into his 4th season with WCE, Ryan recently completed his Assistant Overnight Guide course and certification through the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.
|Kellan Thorlakson, assistant guide, is a recent 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 the summer season, and primed to keep building on his training from NIC, and recent Assistant Overnight Guide certification through the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC.
Kellan is thoughtful, observant, and a hard worker - 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!
Staff-at-Large, who join us when able!
|Adrienne Daniel kept our office flowing for 4 years, managing our guest communications and travel logistics; she's now pursuing a great new administrative position with our local school district, and on-call to assist WCE as needed. She's another smiling face who is happy helping you to prepare for a relaxing and unforgettable adventure! Adrienne is passionate about ecotourism, so has been thrilled to help support and refine our sustainable practices. A current Bachelor of Business Administration student with North Island College and graduate of the Adventure Tourism Business Operations Diploma program from College of the Rockies, Adrienne has also achieved a certificate in Community Leadership from the Centre for Innovative Entrepreneur Leaders. Adrienne is a nature lover at heart. As a previous Environmental Educator, she is most passionate about connecting people, especially children, to their natural world.|
|Bobby Sherlock, our camp chef for 2 summers and now one of our relief cooks, is deeply connected with the ocean. He specializes in preparing wild harvest foods, and is otherwise in constant motion surfing, kayaking, sailing, boating, fishing, or pursuing wildlife and landscape photography. Quick and content in the kitchen, he's focused on ensuring everyone is loving what they're eating!
Bobby has over 15 years experience in the restaurant industry, and is a graduate of the College of the Rockies Adventure Tourism Business Operations Diploma.
|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).|