Destinations Way Back Wednesday

Carrington Bay, Cortes Island | Way Back Wednesday

Wednesday, December 21, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

It’s Way Back Wednesday, an opportunity to dig through the files and pull out an old blog post to shed some new light on it. Over the years, I’ve written several posts about anchorages we’ve stayed in, including first-hand anchoring information (i.e. holding, protection, GPS coordinates), historical information and things to do. To date, I’ve done 26 of these (they can all be found on our Destinations page) and they’re some of my favourite posts. For the next six months, I’ll be highlighting one every Wednesday (from south to north) and adding a few new ones in where I can. This week, it’s a return to Carrington Bay on Cortes Island (you can read the original post here).

Disclaimer:  This blog article is not to be used for navigation.  It is solely an account of our personal experience anchoring in Carrington Bay during calm weather conditions.  What worked for us at one particular time is no guarantee or indication that it will work for others. 

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.

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. 

So, what’s the catch?  Carrington Bay is exposed to the northwest and the holding is poor in rock, making it a fair-weather anchorage only (though we didn’t have a problem riding out 25 knot northwesterly winds behind Jane Island a couple of years ago).

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. 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 only fair holding in rock.

Things to Do:

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

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)


  • No cellular coverage
  • Only fair holding in rock

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  1. No cell coverage - sometimes it's a benefit - it forces me to look outside instead of at my phone! I first thought the photo of Cambria was of autumn leaves - spectacular colors! How many hours of sun do you get on summer solstice? I imagine the sunsets are rather late!

    1. It depends. When we were in SE Alaska in June (59 degrees N), the sun set after midnight and rose by 3 am (it was still light in between). At lower latitudes, it gets dark around 10:30 or 11 and light again by 5 or 5:30. The winters are tough, though. In Kingston (48 degrees), it's dark until 7:30 pm and again by 4:30.

  2. Like Lucy, I also thought those were autumn leaves. I'm really glad I read her comment or else I might have left a silly comment extolling the beauty of autumnal colors. I'd be a little worried riding out 25 knots in a fair weather anchorage. Glad that worked out okay for you guys.

    1. I was a little worried about riding out 25 knots in Carrington Bay, especially from the northern quadrant. But David still has a bit of Kiwi sailor in him and looked at me like I was daft when I brought the subject up. Lol. Fortunately, Jane Island offered enough protection to soften the chop and the anchor held well in rock.

  3. I thought the bright orange were leaves as well, and then I read Lucy's comment, and, hey, Ellen's as well.... and, now I understand the amazing sunsets feature of this bay. Little Woodstock in a place like this must be quite the experience! Unless people start dragging all over the place because of the bad holding. :-)