During long ocean voyages, supplies of food, water, and wood to make repairs were collected by landing parties that would row ashore while the European ships sat at harbour. Crews would interact with indigenous communities through trade, attempts at sexual contact with local women, and the process of collecting information about local geography, flora, and fauna. With the exception of temporary winter camps, small Russian settlements in the north Pacific, the Spanish fort of San Miguel, and other outposts in Nootka Sound on the east coast of Vancouver Island, there were few settlements by new arrivals in the Pacific Northwest during the 18th century.
This situation meant that most contact was brief, although it could be ongoing, and many captains visited the same areas on successive voyages. It was also on the terms of the coastal peoples. They often sent out canoes with representatives, including chiefs and spiritual leaders, to welcome the visitors. However, if they were not satisfied with their relationships or the conditions of commerce, they could refuse trade. Because the explorers and traders were reliant on the coastal villages to organize and participate in trade for furs and necessary supplies, much of the early contact involved communication and hospitality. Events included hosting captains and officers at potlatches and inviting chiefs and their families aboard ship for dinner and entertainment.