Herring Bay, Ruxton Island
17th October 2023
If you are in search of a lovely Gulf Island anchorage with white-shell beaches and interesting weather carved sandstone formations, Herring Bay at the northwest end of Ruxton Island may be the spot you’re looking for. This cozy anchorage, with its outer limits defined by drying reefs and gorgeous view of Vancouver Island, is well worth a visit to relish and experience all that this anchorage has to offer.
Entrance into the anchorage can be made from the west through a break in the reef and the peninsula with a depth of 11-feet at low tide. The reefs submerged at high water flank the entrance so arriving boaters must pay close attention to their charts. The preferred entrance is from the northwest, between a day mark identifies the northwest tip of the drying reef and a string of small islands lying north of Ruxton Island. Keeping the mark to starboard on entrance, the depth in the entrance is 16-feet at zero tide then increases to 24-feet in a relatively small cove with a good holding sand bottom. Whichever entrance is utilized the captain needs to beware of the charted rock lying off the south end of the reef.
The anchorage is north of the cluster of resident boats and private mooring buoys with room for two or three boats to anchor. The bay is well sheltered from all but the northerlies; if the anchorage is full or there is a strong northwest wind, the bay across Ruxton Pass at the south end of De Courcy, a portion of Pirates Cove Marine Park, is a suitable alternative.
Most of the land around the bay is populated with off-the-grid small homes or summer cabins making most of the surrounding land private. But one of the attractions of this gunkhole appears when the tide falls and exposes the surrounding reefs and sculpted sandstone shorelines making for some excellent dinghy or kayak exploration. Some would say Herring Bay is only a bay when the tide is out. The shimmering white midden beach on the outer most reef, where the day mark resides, is a favorite for beach combing, a picnic, or relaxing and absorbing some Gulf Island sunshine. The water is incredibly clear and on a warm day all that’s missing is a few palm trees.
Visiting boaters need to be aware there are reports that it’s quite common to see nude bathing on both two small islands at the entrance that connect to Ruxton Island at low water, as well as on the reef with the day marker.
If you need to stretch your sea legs, launch the dinghy, and make the short run (1.5-miles) to Pirates Cove Marine Park on the southeast end of De Courcy Island. The 31-hectar park offers 5-kilometrees of easy walking trails that weave around and through the park, passing through mature second growth firs as well as arbutus and Garry oaks.
One of the wonderful things about Herring Bay is there is no need to leave your boat to enjoy it. There is no shortage of wildlife, like eagles, ospreys, seals, river outers, to keep the crew entertained. You may even see Orcas traversing Stuart Channel and Ruxton Passage.
The view and experience do not end once the sun sets. Herring Bay is known for its gorgeous sunsets, and if you’re lucky, you may be treated to a full moon rising casting its reflection on the mirror like surface of the bay, completing the day with a magical experience.