Captain Lenard M. Pearson and his crew greet passing ships in a strange way—they fire a cannon at them. Among the many details of tall ship Thane—a 55-foot gaff-rigged fetch constructed of salvaged building materials—are its working cannons. With a flash of fire, a plume of smoke, and a very loud noise, the captain says hello to neighbouring vessels and makes sure no one on board has fallen asleep.
In addition to the cannon fire, Captain Pearson and his crew find other theatrical ways to engage guests, encouraging them to help out by hauling the sails or riding the bowsprit. Groups may also drag a fishing a line or trap crabs, depending on season. The crew encourages passengers to relax with their picnics and drinks while they take in sights that may range from pods of killer whales to the snow-dusted peaks of the Olympic Mountains. Along with bringing parties up to close to such sights, the captain also shares stories about the area's marine history, geology, and wildlife. Crew members happily provide guests with coolers, ice, glasses, and bottle openers for their drinks, and encourage responsible and respectful imbibing.
Born in Victoria, John Chau grew up fishing for salmon in the Sooke area. Thirty years since he hooked his first fish, Chau now shares his expertise with fellow anglers through guided charters on his 25-foot Pursuit Cuddy boat. During the spring and summer, Chau’s clients hook chinook salmon anywhere between 15 and 50 pounds. Autumn brings coho salmon, and in the winter, feisty feeder chinook weighing between 4 and 12 pounds roam waters just minutes from the dock.
The Sooke area is typically calm year-round due to the lack of ground swell, and its teeming waters attract wildlife such as bald eagles, sea lions, and killer whales eager to gain a better reputation among fishermen.
It's hard for Andrew and Christine Edwards to remember a life without scuba diving. From an early age, they both would plunge into the depths of Vancouver's waters, gazing across underwater landscapes where wolf eels swam and octopi stretched their sneaker-covered tentacles across a carpet of strawberry anemones. These experiences stuck with them, and in 2007, the couple opened Ocean Planet Adventures to share their life's passion with others.
From Discovery Scuba classes to advanced PADI certifications, Ocean Planet Adventures' instructors guide their students at dive sites peppered across Clayoquot Sound and Barkley Sound, a UNESCO biosphere. During these expeditions, instructors and groups feast their eyes on jungles of aquatic plants and animals, including whales. Aside from open-water diving, the staff teaches specialty courses such as wreck diving, which lets divers explore shipwrecks or polish the hoods of sunken automobiles.
Competitors in the nine-team Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, the Peninsula Panthers foster excellence in fledgling hockey players as they compete against some of Canada's finest young talent. With three Brent Patterson Memorial Trophies in their arsenal—including back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011—the Panthers have emerged as one of the league's premiere programs and a hotbed for future stars to move on to the next level. A handful of NHL players have matriculated through the Panthers system, including current Dallas Stars fixtures Jamie and Jordie Benn.
Award-winning Recreation Oak Bay exercises minds and bodies with classes and camps at numerous locations. The facilities all foster a safe, welcoming environment where community members can come together and splash into the pool during children’s or adults’ swim lessons, work out in fitness studios, stretch in sync during yoga classes, or swing through the nine-hole Henderson Park Golf Course. Recreation Oak Bay also keeps children safe from the video-game-proffering witches that lurk in most public parks with a variety of kids' sports programs, including skating and hockey, soccer, and tennis.