In our latest destinations installment courtesy of‘s Lynne Picard and Jim Burgoyne, we discover some of their favorite anchorages in Desolation Sound.

Among the most common questions we get is: What are your favorite anchorages if we go to Desolation Sound… or the San Juans or Sunshine Coast? Etcetera.

So we’ve decided to start a series of blogs with our suggested anchorages and marinas for boaters who may be new to cruising some of the areas we cover.

Desolation Sound is a popular destination, so let’s start there. It’s hard to select favourites; it depends on what you like, but the anchorages and marina suggestions below could be used to plan a two-week holiday around the park and the southern Discovery Islands, choosing those that appeal to you. They are in no particular order, so check them out and plan your route! Just don’t forget to bring your stern tie equipment.

All the destinations are in our Salish Sea Pilot Cruising Guide to Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands, which also includes up-to-date information about anchorages, marina rates and services, as well as the locations of stern tie pins.

Some favorite stops for cruisers in Desolation Sound and nearby waters.

Copeland Islands is a favourite place to stop for the night on the way to Desolation Sound Marine Park. It can fill up fast, with Thulin Passage often busy with boats coming from or heading to the park. There are stern tie rings scattered around the two main anchorages, with other possibilities for nature’s shore ties along the shore. These low islands are very pretty and you can stretch your legs walking to the other side.

Grace Harbour, with a trail to a small freshwater lake where you can have a swim, could be your first anchorage in the park. Beautiful, with excellent shelter, it’s a popular spot. Anchor or stern tie thanks to the shore pins provided by BC Marine Parks Forever.

Tenedos Bay, just 8nm from Grace Harbour could be your next stop. There is room to anchor in the northwest bay and 14 stern tie rings close to a campsite in the northeast bay, where there is a trail to Unwin Lake and the popular swimming rocks there.

Two humpbacks surprise us when they surface off our bow in Sutil Channel.

Prideaux Haven or Melanie Cove are major draws, and both are truly stunning. They can be very busy during July and August. Being well protected and having shore tie rings means a lot of boats can squeeze into these two anchorages. Prideaux Haven is often filled with shining new super yachts, while Melanie Cove seems to attract their smaller brethren and more sailboats.

Roscoe Bay on West Redonda Island may be just as busy as Prideaux Haven or Melanie Cove, or it can be empty. It tends to depend on the time of high water as there is a drying bar at the entrance. Arriving in early afternoon is popular if it coincides with a high tide. A trail to Black Lake offers freshwater swimming and there’s a longer more challenging hike up Mt. Llanover. Remember you must time your arrival and departure to cross the bar. Lots of stern tie rings and some room to swing on anchor if it’s not too crowded.

Pendrell Sound is a somewhat tricky anchorage at the head of the sound with spectacular views. Its reputation for having water warm enough to swim makes it popular, although warm is subjective! It’s a bit out of the way, but that makes it special! Make sure your anchor is set and it may be best to stern tie. It’s about 9nm from Roscoe Bay to the head of the sound.

Refuge Cove, with its charm and friendly locals, is great if you need to top up with fuel, water, groceries or liquor. With a small café and bakery open June 1 to Sept. 15, it also offers a place to do laundry. The anchorage is open to the southwest but there is a public dock.

The enchanted forest between Waiatt Bay and Small Inlet.

Squirrel Cove might be a good stop if you want to break up a trip north or to Von Donop Inlet on the other side of Cortes Island. It’s very pretty and there are fun tidal rapids at the entrance to Squirrel Cove Lagoon, which is fun to paddle around.

Teakerne Arm, with its waterfall and trail to Cassel Lake is another scenic favourite but only in settled weather. It’s deep, and most of us won’t want to let out the necessary rode to swing on anchor, so stern tying here is a must. There are two shore tie pins on each side of the cove near the waterfall, but when it’s crowded it can be tricky to manoeuvre. There are other places to stern tie around the bay and a dinghy dock to go ashore and visit the lake and falls. Many people make it a day trip, but always keep a watch on the weather forecast.

Von Donop Inlet is well out of the Desolation Sound Marine Park, off the northwest shore of Cortes Island. It’s about 14nm from Teakearne Arm, but it’s a worthwhile stopover on the way to the Octopus Islands, which is a place we love. The inlet has several spacious all-weather anchorages, the most appealing and usually the first to fill up, is at the head if the inlet, a convenient dinghy ride to the walking trails to Squirrell Cove and the general store near the public dock.

Kids get cozy in the hot tub at Gorge Harbour Marina.

Octopus Islands is a marine park at the entrance to Waitt Bay with several islets to explore. It can be a social hub with boats rafted together and stern-tied. Or it may be quiet and you’ll have it to yourself. Make sure to zoom in on your charts and keep an eye out as the entrance is navigable, but does have drying reefs and small islets.

Waiatt Bay is nearby if the Octopus Islands are full.  It’s a wide shallow bay with plenty of room to let out lots of scope. There’s a delightful walking trail to Small Inlet and on to Newton Lake. We’ve been known to tuck in there for a few lazy days of walking, reading and swimming in the lake.

Drew Harbour on Quadra Island is a favourite destination of ours, especially if the grandchildren are joining us. Last summer we had amazing whale sightings each time we sailed there from points north along the west side of Read Island. We love Taku Marina with it’s shore cookhouse, tennis and basketball courts. We get groceries at the supermarket nearby and have them delivered to the dock. Heriot Bay is a short walk away for a meal out, and the beaches along Rebecca Spit are hard to beat. Anchor along the spit or tie up at the marinas.

A mist settles over Waiatt Bay, turning a clear sky to gloom.

Gorge Harbour Marina with a pool and hot tub, on the south end of Cortes, is another must-do when the grandchildren are aboard. Book ahead in high season, cuz we aren’t the only ones who enjoy that hot tub.

You can find many other more ‘off the beaten path’ anchorages in our guides if you are looking for more seclusion. I hope this helps planning your summer!

Note: This post was originally published on and is courtesy of the authors.