It’s no wonder someone (Ann Vipond and William Kelly) wrote a cruising guide entitled “Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage”, because you can basically collect them like trophies as you travel up and down the passage’s watery corridor from Olympia to Skagway. And while we have a treasure trove of “bests” stashed away, there’s always room for more, and we’re more than willing to find them.
So what are the latest anchorages to be hoisted into our trophy case? Russell Island and Winter Cove.
Situated at the mouth of Salt Spring Island’s Fulford Harbour, we’ve wanted to drop the hook and explore Russell Island since passing by last spring. After clearing customs in Sidney we made the short jaunt north in a dying breeze and just before rounding the western corner of the island I spotted what looked to be a wake from a boat. Curiously, there were no other boats around, so I kept an eye on the water and to my excitement, two orca broke the surface soon after. I called to Jill and the boys and we sat in the cockpit watching as the pair slowly made their way behind us. That sight never gets old.
With our whale watching over, we made it around the edge of the island and anchored in the small cove just off the park’s dinghy dock. We spent the next two days exploring the island’s beaches and trails and learning of its unique history. It was also a great spot to enjoy one of our favorite routines: Almost everyday when the boys wake up from their afternoon nap, we dinghy to shore with a snack. Our ritual then entails finding a place to play and, this time of year, a spot to take in the sunset. On Russell Island, it was easy to discover a couple of these memorable places.
Settled by Hawaiians in 1886, Russell Island has changed hands only a few times since and a small house still stands that was built in the early 1900s. It’s a place where time seemed to stand still, and for us, it did. As is often the case with how we cruise in the winter, we didn’t really have our next destination planned and when one didn’t materialize quickly we made the simple decision to just stay put for another day and night in the anchorage. It was that good.
When we did finally move on, we headed to another place that we’d never visited before, Winter Cove Marine Park. Nestled between Saturna Island and Samuel Island, Winter Cove is a relatively shallow bay that has a few private houses, a dinghy dock at the park and a narrow cut leading out into the Strait of Georgia. Boat Pass is a highlight of the park, as its picturesque rocky confluence creates a current that runs like rapids in a river.
The better part of three days passed effortlessly as we swung at anchor and not a single boat showed up to share the splendor of those sunny January days. The park’s easy hiking trails were great for Porter. He could run and jump until his heart’s desire and impromptu games of hide-and-seek behind trees and bushes had us all giggling. On the boat, we shared meals, completed a few art and boat projects, and even found time to give the deck and hull a scrub in the midday sun.
Our afternoon ritual again became a highlight and we alternated between the pass — with its beautiful view of the mountains in British Columbia and Washington — and beaches on the inside of the cove. While Magnus crawled in the sand and played with beach toys, Porter and I played catch and hit rocks into the water with a stick. It couldn’t get much better.
Once again, we weren’t in a hurry to leave, but after spending the better part of three days in this incredible spot, the fridge was getting empty and a fair wind kicked up that we decided to move with.
Best in show.