Pendrell Sound famously tepid
Pristine. Beautiful. Breathtaking. The upper reaches of Pendrell Sound is all those things. And maybe that should be enough to make the inlet famous. But it’s not really what sets it apart from nearby Desolation Sound. What makes Pendrell so unique is its warm water.
It’s a quirk of nature and geography, a tidal zone near where the Johnstone and Georgia straits collide, deep but with limited water circulation and drainage — the warm water tends to stay in the sound, near the surface. The result is a year-round water temperature of more than 23°C (74°F), and summer temperatures hitting 25°C (80°F). Some say these are the warmest Pacific waters north of Mexico.
Water temperature averages most everywhere else in the Salish Sea are hard-pressed to creep above 12°C (54°F).
The warm water is conducive for farming Pacific oyster spat (seed), a delicate breeding industry which has led to a ban on sewage discharge and no-wake speed limits in Pendrell Sound.
Many boating families come just to swim, to float about on rubber rafts; the beauty of the place is a side benefit.
Pendrell Sound is a magnificent inlet which almost slices East Redonda Island in half. Just before entering the bay at the head of Pendrell Sound, boats will pass a popular anchorage we have called “Komoks Cove”. Our bone to pick with this part of the world is that so many islands and bays are named for Europeans, often friends or colleagues of the ship captains with naming authority. In many cases, the namesakes had never set eyes on the land or sea named for them, or even on this continent, for that matter. The tiny anchorage seemed to be nameless on our first arrival, so we took the liberty of naming it for the Komoks First Nation, the people who lived here for some of their history before the Europeans arrived. You can name it anything you like.
Komoks is a pleasant anchorage with good protection and convenient shore ties. It can get busy in the summertime, sometimes accommodating a surprising number of boats when considerate early arrivals stern tie to shore rather than swing on anchor and limit the number of boats which can squeeze into the cove.
A lagoon to the northwest of the cove can be entered by paddle craft at higher tides and is fun to explore. Loggers have carved roads up the sides of Mount Bunsen and these can be accessed from Komoks Cove, offering hikers the opportunity to discover wonderful views.
Words of warning: Shards of stone along the beaches and other shoreline here and in much of Pendrell Sound are sharp. Never go ashore shoeless and be very cautious with inflatables.
The head of Pendrell Sound, north of Komoks Cove, offers excellent shore ties in settled weather. Along much of the shoreline that is suitable for stern ties initial depths are not extreme, allowing easy deployment of your anchor before securing a line to shore.
Our favourite place to anchor is north of little islets at the southern entrance to the bay. Take care not to disturb any pens that are within oyster spat leases in the bay.
For many newcomers to the Discovery Islands, Pendrell Sound is somewhere they have never heard of before. After spending a day or two anchored in the tranquil and magical surroundings, it is somewhere they might never forget.
(The anchorages of northern Pendrell Sound are covered in Salish Sea Pilot’s Cruising Guide to Desolation Sound & the DIscovery Islands.)