Desolation Sound Destinations

Carrington Bay: Strictly Cortes

Monday, January 05, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

The lagoon in Carrington Bay, Cortes Island.

The start of the New Year means one thing and one thing only aboard Cambria: the cruising season is fast-upon us.  Four months may sound like a long time; but when you’re trying to get things ready for a six-month stint in the wilderness, it goes by quickly.  Very quickly.  And one of the many jobs we have in front of us is deciding where to stop along the way.   

The attraction of Pacific Northwest Cruising, for us, lies north of Cape Caution with its rugged landscape and remote anchorages.  But when it comes to destinations a little closer to home, Cortes Island has a lot to offer . . . starting with Carrington Bay.

Cortes Island

Located on the west side of Cortes Island off Sutil Channel, Carrington Bay is purely Cortes:  It’s beautiful, quirky, eccentric, natural, and off the beaten path all at the same time.  The adjoining land is part of a regional park reserve, so the bay is unpopulated and surrounded by well-maintained hiking trails that lead through second-growth forest.  There’s a large, salt-water lagoon at the head of the bay that’s worth exploring by kayak and, if local residents are any judge, the fishing inside is good.  The sunsets are amazing and, as an added bonus, the large bay is generally quiet, making it an excellent retreat from some of the busier anchorages within the boundaries of Desolation Sound.  Despite all its positives, Carrington Bay is probably best know for its annual rave when hundreds of people converge on the park by boat and by trail (there are no roads leading into the park) to spend the weekend reliving Woodstock at some basic level – there’s even a permanent stage for the performers and their equipment. 

The lagoon entrance in Carrington Bay, Cortes Island.

Sunset in Carrington Bay, Cortes Island.

Cambria at anchor in Carrington Bay, Cortes Island.

So, what’s the catch?  Carrington Bay is open to the northwest and the holding is fair in rock, making it best for settled conditions (though we've found good protection from wind and chop behind the unnamed islet in the southeastern section of the bay).

The approach to Carrington Bay is straight-forward BUT the clear route lies south of Jane Island and its reefs.  Once inside, there are several anchoring options – our favourite is near a small nook behind Jane Island that provides some northerly protection in approximately 10 metres (33 feet).  Scenic anchorage can also be found off the smaller, unnamed islet to the south of Jane Island.  We made an attempt to anchor here in the past but weren’t able to find a reasonable depth that offered enough swing room.  We have, however, seen other boats anchored here and are sure it can be done.  Suitable anchorage can also be found at the head of the bay off the entrance to the lagoon (be sure to consult the chart carefully to avoid the submerged rock) in approximately 7 metres (23 feet) with poor holding in rock.

Carrington Bay, Cortes Island

Waypoints of Interest:
  • 50°08.996’N, 125°01.459’W  (Approach)
  • 50°08.854’N, 125°00.355’W  (Jane Island Anchorage)
  • 50°08.558’N, 125°00.129’W  (Unnamed Islet Anchorage)
  • 50°08.209’N, 125°00.128’W  (Lagoon Entrance Anchorage)
  • 50°08.017’N, 125°00.215’W  (Trailheads – approximate)

Things to Do:
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Gathering oysters (check current updates for PSP – Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning)
  • Explore the lagoon
  • Sit back and watch the sunset.

  • No cellular coverage
  • Only good to fair holding in rock
Carrington Bay, Cortes Island trail map.

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  1. I know I've said it before, but these posts are a fantastic resource for folks who want to cruise in the PNW (or just dream of doing so one day). Hope you both are fully recovered from the flu!

    1. Thanks, Ellen. And yes, we all survived the flu and are doing MUCH better now. We even managed to leave the house a time or two this week (man, life on land is soooo much different than live on a boat!).