Staff Highlight: Andrew Jennings
To continue our staff highlight series, we’d like to share more about AJ, one of our multi-talented and highly experienced guides. He has a charismatic presence in any room. His skill set is incredibly diverse, and he has vast experience in the guiding industry. The Farewell Family is fortunate to have him on board.
AJ has spent much of his life on the ocean - his parents were avid sailors, so he spent most of his time sailing both local and exotic destinations. By the time he was 16, he was accompanying his parents on trips circumnavigating Vancouver Island and up to Haida Gwaii. These are long and complex journeys on a sailboat for readers who don't know the area! His love of sailing and boating led him to get his first job straight out of high school as a deckhand on the Charlotte Princess, a floating lodge that runs sport fishing tours. From there he transferred to Painter's Lodge, a wildlife focused lodge that was better suited for AJ's interests and passion.
The following summer, AJ was hired as a full-time guide and spent three great seasons guiding with Tim. From there, he worked at Jamie’s Whaling Station in Tofino, Tide Rip Grizzly Tours, Campbell River Whale Watching, Weigh West Water Taxi, Spirit Bear Lodge, and SeaSmoke Whale Watching, all before circling back to Tim and Kelli, this time at Farewell Harbour Lodge back in September of 2017 when we opened.
AJ has had so many beautiful wildlife encounters over the past 15 years that he could probably fill a book with his adventurous tales and stories! Here are a few of his favourites that he’s shared with us. The first one that came to mind was his first encounter with a Spirit bear. At the time, AJ was working at Spirit Bear Lodge, on the central coast of BC. He said, “I just remember sitting for hours on the side of a beautiful, loud river, watching lots of black bears feeding. Then, suddenly, this one really shy juvenile Spirit bear came out. It was a quick sighting, but it was right at the beginning of meeting this bear and getting to know him. Eventually, that bear became more comfortable with us and almost befriended us. It was like we became part of the scenery. He would just come in and do his fishing, and I remember watching him as a 4-year-old juvenile. He was so clumsy that he wasn't catching much fish in the first month or so. But, he eventually caught on, and we started to see him catch 3 to 4 fish over a few hours, even getting into the double digits with lots of practice! Talking with some of my lifelong friends that live in Klemtu (where Spirit Bear Lodge is located), they’re still watching that same bear as a grown adult, and now he even dominates that same river. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Another unforgettable experience was having the opportunity to live and work in Klemtu with the Kitasoo/Xaxais First Nation. “The teaching culture in that community is strong and watching young First Nations guides come out of their shells and grow as guides was really cool. Tim was instrumental in implementing different programs for First Nations youth and giving them a platform to share their community and culture with people visiting from around the world.”
The last story that AJ shared with us was another special wildlife encounter from when he worked at Knight Inlet Lodge. He left the lodge with six guests and a cooler full of food for a whole day-long adventure, and let me tell you, this day did not disappoint! He said, “We happened to come across some Orcas, and I got stuck in this one position. Although I did everything I could to abide by the regulations at the time (this was a decade ago), one of the males ended up splitting away from the group and coming towards us, so I shut down the engine. As the Orca approached, I could see his 6-foot-tall dorsal fin wobbling and teetering, and it felt like it was right in front of my face. I told everyone to hold onto the boat because I wasn’t sure what would happen, but this 30-foot Orca had rolled over on its side, so its dorsal fin laid down flat to swim under the boat. When he was on his side, he looked right up at us, and we connected eye to eye with this beautiful animal. It was such a moment of awe that we all fell silent. The guests had been yelling in shock at how close the Orca was, but everyone went quiet as soon as we connected with his eye. That is until he popped up on the other side of the boat. At that point, the yelling and screaming definitely continued.”
In the off-season, when he isn’t guiding, AJ works as an electrician and did his apprenticeship in North Vancouver and Victoria. He got his Journeyman certification as a construction electrician in 2020. AJ's interest in renewable energies, particularly solar energy for off-grid living systems, is his main focus of work. He’s completed several off-grid solar systems, including time at the Double Bay Whale Sanctuary, and OrcaLab – both not-for-profit organizations dedicated to the study and conversation of marine mammals.
Our Farewell Family is lucky to have members like AJ, who bring skill, charisma, and well-rounded experience to our diverse team.
AJ's instagram: andrew_jennings77
AJ's email: email@example.com
-- Sylvie Stewart Grantham
Past Blog Posts
Jul 25, 2022
Staff Highlight: Andrew JenningsOne of our long time guides, AJ, has been part of the Farewell Family since the beginning. Find out more about his diverse background and incredible stories.
Jun 13, 2022
Forest FungiForest Fungi are an important part in any forest ecosystem. Read more about how they reproduce, recycle nutrients, and work in symbiosis with others!
Apr 23, 2022
Staff Highlight: Daryl DancerFind out more about one of our most experienced guides, Daryl Dancer, from her love of sailing to her passion for Grizzly bears, she's got it all.
Mar 25, 2022
Sea Otter Success StoryDiscover more about the turbulent history of sea otters in British Columbian waters.
Mar 10, 2022
Wild Pacific Salmon EcologyFind out more about Pacific wild salmon. This post covers their diverse, intriguing ecology and why they're so important for our ecosystem!
Feb 20, 2022
How Hammerhead Got a NameFind out how the humpback whale, Hammerhead, got named! This is one of our favourite stories to tell at Farewell Harbour Lodge.
Feb 1, 2022
Tomato Basil SoupCheck out Chef Dylan's recipe for his delicious homemade tomato basil soup!
Jan 14, 2022
Rainforest EcologyJoin us on an imaginary journey into the Great Bear Rainforest, and maybe along the way you'll learn some ecology!
Jan 3, 2022
Reflecting on 2021Winter is the time of year when we reflect on the past before looking ahead.
Dec 13, 2021
Winter at Farewell Harbour LodgeMeet Cecil and Marisa, our winter caretakers, and get a glimpse into their winter life at Farewell Harbour Lodge.
May 1, 2021
Wildlife Guide - BearsWe put together a quick, easy guide to help you better understand what to expect when you go bear viewing with Farewell Harbour Lodge!
Apr 24, 2021
Farewell Kitchen - Paul's CioppinoWe uncovered a recipe from the past and had to share it with you! Enjoy with a crisp white wine in the sunshine!
Apr 19, 2021
Top Tips for Photography at Farewell HarbourWe are lucky to have some very talented friends, who also happen to be professional photographers! We asked them for some of their top tips!
Apr 10, 2021
Wildlife Guide - WhalesFind out more about whale watching in the Broughton Archipelago, from what you should bring with you to the best time of year to visit!
Mar 24, 2021
The Rest of the StoryThere are many stories that came together for Farewell Harbour Lodge to be where it is now. Ryne Brockway, co-owner and friend, tells us his.
Mar 11, 2021
Sweet Potato CookiesChef Robyn's easy and delicious sweet potato cookie recipe! Perfect for a boost of energy when out on the trails or just need a little pick me up.
Mar 2, 2021
Staying Jung on Berry IslandHave you ever taken a personality test? We talk about how MBTI is used to create better working relationships and strong connections.
Feb 25, 2021
Engage all your sensesThere are many ways in which we find escape. We look at how engaging all of your senses can help to switch off the outside pressures in a more mindful way.
Feb 11, 2021
A Love StoryTim tells us a Valentines Day story of how he and Kelli met and fell in love on this wild west coast.
Feb 2, 2021
The Forest Floor with MarlieOur rainforests are home to so much life! One of our guides, Marlie, helps us to notice the smaller things that are vital to its survival.
Jan 27, 2021
Going, going, SCONE!One of our guests' all time favourites! We get asked for this recipe more than any other, so here it is to enjoy from home.
Jan 17, 2021
A different perspectiveA wonderful way to see more of the vast landscape is by air! Read about one morning we took to the skies and experienced everything from mountain tops to sandy beaches.
Dec 21, 2020
Sea Kayaking with BeccaOne of our kayak guides, Becca, tells us why this is her favourite way to get even closer to nature and experience the Broughton Archipelago at its best.
Dec 18, 2020
Sointula - Place of Harmony on Malcolm IslandThings to do in Sointula! Full day excursions to Sointula and Malcolm Island. Pioneer history, whale rubbing beaches, historic lighthouse and more!
Nov 1, 2020
Differences between black bears and grizzliesA few things to look out for when bear viewing with our guides at Farewell Harbour. We look at some of the main differences between black bears and grizzlies.