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Who are they and what do they do?

SV Sunpiper
Principal Vessel 
SV Sunpiper
Principal Vessel 


Sunpiper is a Northstar 40/ Hughes 80/20. She is robustly made of plastic reinforced fibreglass. She was constructed on the east coast of Canada by Hughes Boatworks in the late 70s. She eventually made her way south and around North America to the West Coast of Canada, where she now explores the remote passages of the north-east Pacific Coast. 

Kate Holmes

            I grew up on the coast of BC on Quadra Island, and the ocean has always played an important role in my life.  In 2015 I graduated from the University of Victoria with a Major in Geography with concentrations in sustainability and coastal studies, accompanied with a minor in anthropology.  From there I began working for the Hakai Research Institute as an oceanography field technician and boat operator. More recently I began working for the Straitwatch Program, run by a Cetus, a non-profit research institute dedicated to protecting whales through education and research. I also work for Maple Leaf adventures as a deckhand, allowing me to explore the BC coast in more depth than I ever had before.

            When I’m not on the water I would happily be perched on the back of a horse, hiking through the rainforest or cycling. 

            The first sailing experience of my life was aboard Sunpiper in Howe Sound, when Leo was taking her on a sail trial with the owner at the time.  The wind was blowing and the rain was pouring down. Little did I know I would spend the next three years involved in sailing trips, haul outs, repairs, storms and smooth seas to get Sunpiper out of Canadian waters.  

 Léo Pontier ​

Léo Pontier...

Right, that is me!  I'm a young man who finds gratification in being out in the elements. My small stature does not reflect the grandeur of my dreams. I hope to travel the seas in search of the wild, the civilized and the undefined in between. 


In 2001, I planted my roots on Quadra Island, British Columbia, after moving from Marseille, France. I started discovering the islands, passages and inlets of the B.C. coast when my family acquired their first sailboat: a racing Jeanneau Selection 37. When I grew older, I sailed as a trainee aboard the Tall Ships of Victoria, circumnavigating Vancouver island. During these first trips I developed a great desire to travel with the wind, setting anchor in remote coves at night, and waking up surrounded by wilderness.


From my boyhood to adulthood, the sea took me different places. I studied at the British Columbia Institute of Technology to achieve my Bridge Watchmen Course. I learned the requirements to be an efficient crew member on large commercial sea going vessels. Instead of pursuing this route, I then got my SVOP license. With such a licence I drove 12 passenger crew boats. When working as a water taxi driver I got to experience the waters of Sutil channel, Johnstone straight, and Discovery Passages intimately. This lead to driving research vessels for Hakai, a marine research institute that has found roots on Calvert and Quadra Island. A few years went by and presently you can find me crewing on the Sailing vessel Achiever, operated by the Raincoast Conservation Foundation as it makes its rounds up and down the British Columbia coastline.


In the meantime I travel with Sunpiper, together we make up the team of Velella Voyages. 

Friends and members 

Velella Voyages can take many shapes and forms. Sharing the adventure with friends new and old is the most rewarding part. If you would like to take part, please contact us. 

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