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Purple Sea Stars

Purple Sea Stars

Published: 08/15/2009 by Vivian Szabo

» Testimonials & Experience

Purple sea stars, jet black Dall’s porpoises and blood red cnidarians …cnidarians?!?!?!? Yes, also known as jellyfish…a trip to the ocean provides prairie dwellers like us with a cornucopia of new discoveries!

Every year our family charters a sailboat on the west coast of British Columbia. We leave from Sidney-by-the-Sea (near Victoria) and explore the Gulf Islands. Now, before you think that you could NEVER do that…YES YOU CAN!!! After just a five day Cruise ‘N Learn course YOU can charter a boat on the coast. The course covers the basics: navigation, safety, points of sail, anchoring, dockings and how to handle a yacht. Cruise ‘N Learn courses are sold on an individual basis but a family could opt for a Personal Cruise ‘N Learn where a program is designed with your family needs,  mind. We started with a Cruise ‘N Learn and have expanded our
skills with more courses and charters.

We love to visit the marine parks in the Gulf Islands. Two of our favorites are Montague and Beaumont Marine Parks. They are an endless source of interesting discoveries for tides, marine wildlife, flora and fauna. At Montague there is also a nature exhibit provided by the BC Parks Service that has a touch tank, parts of different marine wildlife and a park interpreter who knows a lot
about  the area and what is in it.

Our “ocean unit” books are also a vital part of our trip as it is impossible to know what the areas of interest will be until we are there. One year lion’s mane jellyfish were in abundance so we used our on-board “library” to research all about them and then when we returned home we made one out of paper mache. Last year, we loved searching for sea anenomies stuck to the undersides of docks and learned that “the purple feathery ones” were NOT anenomies at all but tube worms and part of the annelid family. Who knew?


And a trip for me would not be complete without a really good book to devour. Last year it was Moby Dick and this year it will be Kon-Tiki.  In addition to the books on everything ocean we also bring books on tape from the library and lots of activities and games.


Perhaps the greatest advantage of chartering a boat and exploring is the time together as a family. With no distractions from computers, phones and other electronics we love the time we spend talking, reading, exploring and just ‘hanging’. We try to charter when the schools are still in session (usually the end part of June) but we have also gone in late summer (when the US schools return). Our trips have ranged from 7 to 14 days and we have even brought our kids on board before they could walk. Check it out! Your next holiday could be an ocean adventure! <>