Oceans and Oysters

Oceans and Oysters

I was supposed to go skiing up on Ellesmere Island in Canada's high arctic this year...but then, as with everything else in the world, plans quickly changed with the pandemic. Suddenly people were 'pivoting' all over the place when it came to family, school, jobs and life in general. With Nunavut closed to non-resident travel and everyone being told to 'stay home, stay safe' my focus turned to a kayaking journey in my backyard- a simple 1,000 km trip along the coast of British Columbia from Squamish to Prince Rupert. I'm most at home in the wilderness -and kayaking is statistically far safer than driving a car or walking the street- so I was taking Bonnie Henry's mantra to heart.

Two other friends started off with me on the journey- Squamish residents Dave Berrisford and Sean Mahar.  When it comes to kayaking cuisine, Dave and I are more about 'quick and dirty' freeze dried food and oatmeal- but Sean is a passionate harvester of seafood. He loves to fish and forage along the way. 

view of camp site at oyster beach on Thormanby Island

On the second evening, we arrived at Thormanby Island after a 60 km day. Tired from a long day on the water, Dave and I dragged ourselves up to the top of a bluff to set up our tents.  I noticed Sean hadn't joined us and I peered around to see where he was.  I spotted him down in the rocky intertidal zone, ferreting around for something down there, his head down as he picked and prodded.

Dave and I came back down to cook dinner and Sean was already busy at work. I saw what he'd been hunting...a whole heap of oysters were piled high in a pot. Having checked the Fisheries and Oceans website to ensure there was no bivalve contamination warning for our area (there's cell service on Thormanby), we were greenlit to enjoy some fresh seafood that evening.

oysters in pot on the boil while camping

Now, I've shucked raw oysters before, and they're somewhat palatable when drowned in tabasco sauce, but Sean prepared them a little differently. You should write this recipe down...it's super complicated:

  1. Put oysters in pot of seawater
  2. Boil the seawater
  3. Wait until the oysters open up
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Dave is not a fan of oysters in any form so he passed, but Sean and I dug in with gusto. They were delectable...the meat was tender, not chewy at all- and the taste was lightly salty and fresh like the sea. We devoured them all. The ritual repeated the next day when we found another big harvest on Jedediah Island. Sadly, Sean had to leave us after 5 days at Lund as he had to return to tend to his young family. Dave and I fell back on our freeze dried habit for the next 22 days...but the fresh bounty provided by Chef Sean in those early days of the journey remain a fond memory.

cooked oysters in their shells, on a log, ready to eat

To read more from Frank Wolf's Kaykaing adventures  "The Bear and the Wolf Paddle North" .