Hello everyone. I am finally back from the Marine Debris Removal Initiative. I was gone with the boat for 47 days and we were lucky with the weather and successfully collected 210 tonnes of marine debris. When I finally got the Columbia III tied to the dock at home I slept for 21 hours straight.
And now, the provincial government is relaxing the Covid 19 restrictions and our province has downgraded to the less stringent "Communicable Disease Protocols" which, in fact, are similar to the pre-Covid standards.
Yesterday, my daughter, Miray, and I did our math and came up with a functioning schedule for 2021. I still need to clean the boat after the Debris contract and I have a crew showing up July 12-23 to wash, sand, paint, varnish and prepare the ship for my most discerning guests. I then need to complete my final annual safety inspections and have Transport Canada recertify the ship for passenger carrying purposes. Once these official milestones are past we have to load the ship with kayaks and food and treats for our tours. Consequently, Miray and I decided the first tour will start in the Broughton Archipelago on August 12th before we head north into the Great Bear Rainforest for the remainder of our 2021 season.
Now that we know which tours we can operate from our posted 2021 schedule the real office fun begins . . . I am just going to be up front . . . we need patience from everyone! Please remember my 2020 season was sold out and many guests kindly allowed us to retain their deposits for use on future tours. And! Many of our 2021 tours were already reserved a year in advance . . . And! With the Covid-19 restrictions lifting in British Columbia we are getting many inquiries for immediate reservations. So we have more inquires than spaces and a complex tangle of priorities.
I am going to give first priority to the guests already reserved on our 2021 schedule (many have been booked for over 2 years in advance).
I am going to give second priority to guests from last year who have already paid their deposits.
Then it gets pretty messy as we try to sort the remaining inquires. Many inquiries have been superseded by guests changing plans as the pandemic dragged on. So the long and the short is that our 2021 spots will fill very quickly and we will try to keep the website up to date. The First Nations have yet to confirm access to their territories for non-Canadians, but given the momentum of the re-opening we feel confident our tours will run. Certainly we will be requiring everyone joining our tours to be double vaccinated.
Remember the simplest thing might be to make a reservation for our 2022 season. I think it will fill quickly.
Stay tuned, be patient, and soon we will meet, either this year or next on the COLUMBIA III and hopefully toast to a pandemic in the past!
Sincerely, Ross Campbell
Ross Campbell here, owner/operator of Mothership Adventures and skipper of the COLUMBIA III. Many of you are returning guests and you will also know me as the chief dishwasher and window cleaner.
I apologize in advance for the length of this missive, but I am willing to risk the impropriety because my entire business of the last 15 years, our retirement nest egg and your expensive deposits and potential holiday plans are at stake.
Of course you are all aware of the crazy and unpredictable 2020 summer, and I was at a complete loss as to how to communicate with you when circumstances were changing so quickly. In the end, we did not operate a single eco-tourism tour in 2020. After many, many emails and phone calls we canceled tours, and moved our 2020 reservations to the 2021 and 2022 seasons. We also issued some refunds in full and with the generosity of some guests we also issued some partial refunds.
Of course we have never experienced anything like this with our business before. With the help of our any repeat customers, we normally sell out well in advance and the 25% deposits paid in advance allow us to finance the preseason preparations. Operating a classic wooden ship is a cash intensive endeavour. Over the winter of 2019-2020 we completed a major main-engine rebuild, purchased several new kayaks, completed our extensive Ministry of Transport 4 year underwater inspection and of course had our crews sanding and painting the ship in April getting ready for the season that might not happen. Even though our season didn't run, the ship had to be insured, Transport Canada inspections had to be completed and our office had to function . . . all without cash flow. Which for a small family business means one simple thing: we are currently using up our retirement savings to maintain Mothership Adventures and the COLUMBIA III in a state of stasis.
And now, 2021 lies before me. My eager and loyal crews are ready and waiting as are you, my long suffering and patient guests. Many of you have traveled with us before and or have heard good things about our small ship and hope to join us for a first, of perhaps many, times.
But once again, I am reaching out to tell you the worst possible news: That I do not know how our 2021 season will unfold. There are many factors at play but a short list looks like this:
This much I know:
Obviously, if you know you do not want to join us this year please let us know. It simply removes one more variable from our long list!
In addition to all of the above, we are still hoping we can operate some tours this season with some or all of our guests. We will have COVID 19 preventative measures in place that will meet or exceed those mandated by our provincial Health Officer and the ship will be subjected to rigorous pre-tour, during-tour and post-tour cleaning procedures.
Thank you everyone for your patience and flexibility. Hopefully we will soon be able to relax on the COLMBIA III, enjoy the quiet of BC's remote coast and be glad that all "that COVID-19 stuff" is behind us.