Anchorage of the Month – Hornby Island
Most of you are aware of the great reciprocal marina agreement we have with the Nanaimo Yacht Club. We usually divide our time between the NYC docks and the active, fun anchorage across the channel at Mark Bay at the south end of Newcastle Island. If you have not visited this anchorage in a while, there are many new buoys set to protect the bottom grasses from dragging anchors. We like to anchor the first day and visit the Club the second so we can have a full battery charge before departure. After provisioning at the well-stocked grocery and liquor stores, taken on fuel and water and had your last “calorie sandwich” at the wonderful Newcastle Dinghy Dock restaurant, you are headed out for northern destinations, weather and Whisky Golf conditions verified.
Let’s say Whiskey Golf is active and the weather is fine and even the tide is heading north. So why not head up the Vancouver Island side toward Campbell River, a long but partially interesting cruise. About half way to Campbell River is Hornby Island where you can spend multiple days exploring. If northerly or westerly winds are predicted, which is usual, your anchorage in Tribune Bay will be a neat experience. This is a bay cut wide and deep into the south end of Hornby Island and becomes quite shallow as you approach the beautiful beach. We usually anchor way out at about 49o31.225’N, 124o27.508’W and use the dinghy to access the wonders of Hornby’s southern shore. As the beach here is very shallow, you will have to wade ashore and again to claim the dinghy after your hikes.
We’ve spent long hours wading for sand dollars for Carolyn’s Beach Crap projects, watching the kids building sand castles, enjoying the finesse of Bocce Ball competitions and the skill-of-youth with their skimming boards. The water here is usually warm enough to swim and snorkel, even for me. Although we have never fished here we always find small “kicker boats” plying their luck off Spray Point and out past Nash Rock. We also enjoy the wonderful hike that leads from the very north corner of Tribune Bay to Cape Gurney and beyond. Miles and miles of easy trails wander along the northern coastline. The views out across the Strait of Georgia, beachcombing in the little rocky bays, watching wildlife in the woods and fields along the way all make for a great excuse to get off the boat and get in some exercise. We’ve even explored (from the dinghy again) the little Flora Islet off St John Point. Neat stuff washes up here and one time we had an encounter with a massive Elephant Seal resting on the beach.
We have also, usually on the return from “up north”, found that the winds are sometimes southerly causing waves to build up in Tribune Bay. When this happens we have anchored, somewhat tentatively, in Ford Bay at 49o30.122’N, 124o41.173oW, on Lambert Channel. This is not the best anchorage on the BC Coast, but close enough to the Chrome Island weather reporting station that you can get firsthand information on when you can get out of there. Again the serendipity moments come when the Sailing 101 classes are taking place all around you. Those kids are tough as they tend to spend most of the lessons treading water trying to get their boats righted so they can climb back aboard. If there is room at the public docks, I am told that they are available for anyone. We stayed at this dock on one occasion and found the little café at the head of the docks was delightful, but mostly we liked the hike just outside the café. As you walk along Lambert Channel toward the south, you are in a wonderland of sandstone beach carvings. From pot holes and arches to caves and nobs. Sunset photos here can be quite creative.
Put Hornby Island on your itinerary and stay for a day. I’m sure that visit will extend into a couple days, for sure.
Don and Carolyn Bloye
M.V. Island Spirit