Island Time with WestCoast Wild Adventures
Louis Rouleau has been thriving in the cockpit of floatplanes since 1974, float planes have been his passion since birth it seems. Every year since founding WestCoast Wild Adventures in 1999 he loves showing off Vancouver Island to hundreds of people. “It really is an incredibly unique island in the Pacific.” He is very happy to be a Mom and Pop Air Taxi business with only one airplane, so in 2010 WestCoast Wild diversified. Working with the local indigenous Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, he built a world class Zip-line on the wild sculptured rock canyon on the Winchee (Kennedy) river, in Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory.
He is also a man of adventure, and loves to explore. He sails, racing in many regattas as well as being lucky enough to crew on a number of ocean crossings, including Hawaii to Vancouver Island (twice!), Hobart to Sydney, the Caribbean cruising for four months from Grenada to the British Virgin Islands, and his latest crossing from Madagascar to Cape Town. Before marriage he was a Skydiver, competing in the world’s largest relative work competition in Florida. Rouleau earned his PADI Advanced Open Water Diving certificate on a volunteer Manta Ray identification project in Mozambique, and his PADI Enhanced Air Diving certificate on a liveaboard diving excursion in the Galapagos. He has hiked through 50 countries and counting, including hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, as well as Uluru in Australia. He still has time to ride his Honda 750 Shadow around British Columbia, the same type of motorcycle he toured with in Australia for two months.
Rouleau and his wife are based in Ucluelet, where they are perched on the rocky shoreline of the real West Coast of Vancouver Island. Ucluelet’s motto is "Experience Life on the Edge." Their house that Darlene helped design is framed between Clayoquot and Barkley Sounds, Pacific Rim National Park, the McKenzie Mountain range and the Kennedy River that forms Kennedy Lake. WestCoast Wild Adventures’ aircraft of choice is a reliable Cessna 180 float-plane C-GEAE, recently rebranded as the Water Dragon. GEAE is a real beauty, a six-place floatplane on EDO 2960 Floats. It has a Sportsman STOL and Up Gross kits as well as an STC to burn boat gas. It’s the perfect plane to show off all the wonders of an ecosystem abundant in wildlife and geographic beauty. “Truly one of Earth's Paradises!” as Rouleau describes.
When he’s not out and about showcasing his favorite places around Vancouver Island, Rouleau works closely with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. He gets contracted in to perform survey flights during March and April for Herring Spawn assessments. Rouleau then completes CREEL surveys from June through to September, keeping track of the lucrative Sports Fishing industry. Seal, Sealion, Sea otter and whale surveys are also performed in the summer. Some of these surveys can take years to complete, as Rouleau explains with seal surveys. “When we do seal surveys, it can take up to five years to do a complete seal survey of the over 17,000 kilometers of coastline in British Columbia. We make very tight circles around every little rock, reef, and along the entire shoreline of BC to photograph the Seals at low tide when they haul out.
“October and November is when I fly the Salmon counters into the Rivers to drift down in dry suits to count the Salmon. These Salmon have survived all the challenges of sport and commercial fishermen, predators, pollution and habitat destruction to battle upriver to spawn and then die. When the Salmon runs end in November, it’s time for me to think about where I want to spend the long sunny days in the Southern Hemisphere.”
“Darlene, my wife has put up with me for over 44 years, she is my confidant, my business partner, my flight follower and my best friend!” With the variation in work that Rouleau is involved in, and the frequency in which he flies far offshore, it’s important for his wife and family to know exactly where he, and those flying with him are in real time.
“Safety is the thing! I do a lot of flying far offshore, so that's why I'm so very happy to have Spidertracks on board. We have a life raft and survival suits if we get into problems, but the Pacific Ocean is very cold here, so we don't have a lot of time to be in the water before being rescued.”
“It’s been an exciting life. I really enjoy being part of the team with the quirky, passionate and dedicated Marine Biologists I get to fly with. I’m always amazed with the variety of interesting people that want to see what I can show them. I always enquire what they do for Fun. Because Darlene accuses me of not actually working for a living. Can you imagine?!”
You can check him out at www.wcwild.com, and WestCoast Wild Adventures on Facebook.