The crew of the Kwakiutl canoe Ugwamalis Gixdan paddles to shore.

The crew of the Kwakiutl canoe Ugwamalis Gixdan paddles to shore.

The journey

Flotilla makes North Island layovers en route to Bella Bella gathering.

Around 26 canoes — some from as far as Seattle — braved the choppy waters off North Vancouver Island earlier this week en route to Bella Bella for Qatuwas II.

The armada stopped off at Alert Bay Sunday, paddling to Fort Rupert the next day, with several continuing to Tsulquate Tuesday.

The balance of the fleet was scheduled to join them Wednesday before continuing its journey north for the annual Tribal Journeys gathering, which this year returns to Bella Bella for the first time since its inception.

The gathering is slated for July 13-19, with up to 5,000 expected to attend.