I strongly suggest that any boater that imagines they will be cruising Canadian waters to first visit Blaine and acquire your NEXUS Pass. Everyone crossing the border on your vessel needs their own NEXAS Pass or you will need to report to a designated Customs Dock. Having this card allows you the convenience of using a cell phone to clear Customs upon arriving at the US/Canadian border indicated on your Chartplotter, rather than the time consuming task of reporting to that designated dock. The reason I mention this is because many boaters want to proceed slowly up the Gulf Islands traveling only one to three hours a day. Many of us use Bedwell Harbour or Poets Cove as an entry point then we can proceed leisurely through Pender Canal and Shark Cove in to Port Browning.
There’s a fairly large area suitable for anchoring just before the docks and just east of the long gravel beach. It’s easy to find your own spot in 25 to 35 feet of water near 48o46.469’ N 123o16.282’W. Another area is just northeast of the red marker, U52, just outside the Browning Harbour Public Wharf. It seems like it matters not how many other boats are at anchor here, you don’t get that crowded feeling, e.g. Montague Harbour.
A nice place to have your first Happy Hour at this anchorage is at the Port Browning Marina and Resort. After setting a crab pot or two, take your dinghy to the Marina and walk up to the expansive grounds surrounding the resort. The friendly restaurant seems to feature a different “special” every evening, all good fare. Don’t isolate yourselves from the locals; you’ll be surprised what you can learn about North Pender Island by just striking up a sincere conversation. They all seem to like talking so practice your interrogation skills.
The history of Port Browning is a bit scattered but the stories told at the local tavern are worth listening to. Seems like everyone wants to share their knowledge. Like the port was named after George Alexander Browning, an assistant surveying officer aboard the Beaver in the mid 1860’s. He was apparently a successful officer since so many places in Canada carry his name. Brackett Cove, where the marina is located, was named after James Alexander Brackett and wife Margaret who pioneered here from Ontario. There is a house down the beach that must have been something great in years past but currently is a little rough around the edges and I understand from the barkeep that it still belongs to the Brackett family. You get here by simply wandering around the beach to the east of the large ball, camping, dog-walking, sun-tanning field. We peered in the windows and only imagined the grandeur of days past. Port Browning is a peaceful and secure anchorage and not really out of your way so give it a try. You may stay longer than previously planned. Taking a blanket and a picnic lunch seems to be popular on the large lawn. Just don’t park yourselves where and impromptu hockey game, a Frisbee tournament or a horse shoe game is underway.
Leaving Port Browning headed north you enter Plumper Sound and Navy Channel, being aware of the marked reefs and rocks along the way. Before you enter the wide passage between Saltspring and Galiano Islands, you will encounter the BC Ferry traffic coming and going around Active Pass. AIS will alert you to this traffic before you see them so you can steer clear of these big boats.
See you there,
Don and Carolyn BloyeMV Island Spirit