Marine Link Tours In the Media
The Aurora Explorer may not look like much with her flat-bottomed hull and pushed-up nose, but she has inside knowledge of the Inside Passage - and room for 12 guests",
Story and photography by Helena Zukowski, Westworld; Spring,2004
Thanks to the chewing and grinding of retreating glaciers, B.C.'s ragged 27,000-kilometre coastline and numerous scatterings of islands are almost impossible to explore in earnest - unless you're an indefatigable kayaker or possess a float plane or small boat. Of course, thousands of travelers a year do venture up the Inside passage aboard cruise ships, waving champagne glasses as they sail through. But these Alaska-bound explorers catch only a glimpse of what they're missing: impenetrable, moss-green shores; crush-shell beaches so luminously white they could have been teleported from the South Pacific; silence interrupted only by the call of the eagles and the sense that here, one truly has reached the ends of the earth. Luckily, there remains one other option for the would-be coastal adventurer. Although sleek is not a word generally applied to the Aurora Explorer, with its broad stable deck and compact deck house, the 41 metre glorified barge-cum landing craft is more than a workhorse. It is the only vessel transporting passengers as well as freight into the inlets and fjords of the coast on a regular schedule. Owner by Marine Link Navigation, the Aurora Explorer has shunted vehicles, groceries, building equipment and the like up and down the coast since 1979. But company president Alan Meadows has always had a sentimental soft spot for the days when Union Steamships plied these same waters, shuttling tourists, locals and party-goers to some dozen or so ports between Vancouver and Lund. Union Steamships were a lifeline for these communities between 1889 and 1959, in the days before highways and airline companies services the area. So why not retrofit the Aurora's functional deckhouse and add accommodation for a few passengers, Meadows figured? As a result, cabins, showers and bathrooms were added in 1992 to provide 12 guests with comfortable - if not luxurious - digs on a boat that "gets you into every nook and cranny, places where even the pocket cruise ships don't go," says Meadows.