12th February 2024
A large and relatively open Clam Bay is nestled between Penelakut (formerly Kuper) and Thetis islands. It’s one of those anchorages to seek shelter when cruising the northern Gulf Islands. The bay also makes an excellent staging anchorage for transiting Dodd Narrows, 11-miles north, or Gabriola Passage.
With room for dozens of boats, Clam Bay also provides boaters a location to wait for a weather window before exiting the Gulf Islands through Porlier Pass, 2.5-miles northeast, and crossing the Strait of Georgia.
Thetis and Kuper island were named after the frigate HMS Thetis, which was stationed in the area during the colonial days, and her commander, Captain Augustus Kuper. In 2010 Kuper Island, home to the Penelakut Band, was renamed in honor of the Penelakut First Nation people.
The entrance to Clam Bay is partly blocked by Centre Reef. Rocket Shoal lies in the middle of the bay. The safest approach to the main anchorage area is south of Centre Reef, between Buoy U42 and Penelakut Spit, which extends from Penelakut Island.
The bay offers excellent anchorage over sticky sand and shell bottom. Some caution should be exercised when anchoring off the eastern shore of Kuper Island because there are reports of sunken machinery (steam boiler) at 25-feet Datum. The exact location is uncertain. Anchoring is possible throughout the bay in depths of 15 to 45-feet. Although mariners need to be aware of a charted submerged cable north of Rocket Shoal that runs from Thetis Island and the north end of Norway Island. It is also possible to set the hook in the small bright on the north shore, between Leech Island and Thetis Island.
Once the anchor is securely set, it’s time for some exploring and provisioning. Grab a couple of boat bags and make your way west in the dinghy, through the drying canal between Thetis and Peneaux islands, connecting Clam Bay and Telegraph Harbour. “The Cut” as it is locally known, makes for great exploration, if you do it near high tide. Depths are uneven and the passage is curved, making it a challenge to stay in the center. The channel dries approximately two feet above datum. When the water rises again, small boats and dinghies can motor between Clam Bay and Telegraph Harbour.
From the head of Telegraph Harbour, it is a short walk to the one-room Howling Wolf Farm Market, a small unstaffed store that runs on the honor system and has refrigerators and freezers filled with local eggs, meats, and dairy products. The shelves and tables are filled with fresh baked goods, veggies, preserves and gift items. The farm is known for its award-winning two-pound berry and fruit pies. As the sign on the wall says, “It’s what’s inside that counts.” Fill your bags, enter your purchases in a spiral notebook and place your payment in a lock box by the door.
For those seeking some exercise, the quite safe rural roads of Thetis Island are lovely for strolling. If you need a coffee fix, the Pot of Gold Coffee Roasting Co. is a popular destination.
On your way back to the boat, make a stop at Telegraph Harbour Marina and enjoy an ice cream cone while sitting on the covered porch overlooking the grounds and marina.
Across the harbor additional provisions are available at the Thetis Island Resort with its convenience store stocked with the basics. There is also a full service Post Office and Liquor Agency on-site.
Back on the mothership, you may be visited by a First Nation’s member from Penelakut Island, in his canoe and offered to show you his carvings, which are for sale. The carvings are beautiful, well-done, and reasonably priced, certainly less than what you would pay at a store.
The next morning, stocked with fresh provisions and the aroma of coffee filling the cabin, weigh anchor and head for Dodd Narrows, timing your arrival with slack tide.