Boaters explore dog-friendly marinas

Boaters explore dog-friendly marinas

By Larry MacDonald & Fern Magnus-Brown

We don’t recommend sailing solo through the Broughtons. The numerous tidal currents, half-submerged logs, kelp beds and isolated rocks in this island-studded British Columbia wilderness require extra eyes. However, the area’s beautiful, rugged coastlines back-dropped with verdant snow-capped mountains beg to be shared with companions.

During our five-week sail, Solo, Fern’s Giant Schnauzer, gave us many opportunities to go ashore. We often had trouble finding suitable access and thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to know in advance which marinas and anchorages are dog-friendly?” We decided to take notes so other boaters would know where their dogs could romp down a trail or check out an easily accessible beach.

We categorized marinas and anchorages as either “dog-friendly” or “not dog-friendly.” A dog-friendly marina required nearby shore access as well as a substantial beach, walking trail or logging road for dogs to stretch their legs. Most of the locations we rated are in the Broughtons, the area north of Desolation Sound between Vancouver Island and the mainland, but a few are on the fringes.

Dog-Friendly

Blind Channel Resort This full-service marina offers a map of scenic hiking trails through cedar forests that are ideal for dog walking. One loop leads visitors to a gigantic 800-year old western red cedar, and another intersects with the logging roads that meander around West Thurlow Island. Every August, the resort owners arrange for visiting canine crew to join Snoop, their greeter dog, in a fun show.

Cordero Lodge Pooch, the resident dog at this small marina, greeted Solo and showed her a picturesque path behind the lodge. The path leads to miles of logging roads, perfect for exploration by adventurous travelers and their canine companions. Pooch also showed Solo a lovely place for a saltwater swim. Fortunately, most marinas in the Broughtons have taps so you can rinse your dogs with fresh water to prevent dry skin and itching from the salt water.

Dent Island Lodge This luxurious marina provides a water dish, free poop bags, a scenic Tugboat Trail along the water and a beach for some good old dog paddling. Two friendly canines joined Solo as we ambled along their expansive docks admiring the visiting mega-yachts.

Forward Harbour A wide beach allows access to a trail over a wooded hillside to another beach at Bessborough Bay. While beachcombing on the Bessborough side, Solo took a liking to a boomerang-shaped piece of driftwood. After an extended game of fetch, she carried her prize partway back down the trail before dropping it as if to say, “I am leaving this stick for another dog to enjoy.” We carried on, vowing to revisit this delightfully secluded anchorage.

Greenway Sound Although this once-popular marina has been closed for years, several boats were tied to its derelict docks. We stayed long enough to dinghy over to another dock, from which we hiked a 1¼-mile trail leading to stunning Lake Broughton. Solo enjoyed a leisurely swim in freshwater, jumping in from a partially submerged dock for another game of fetch. From there, the trail continues upward another half-mile or so to smaller Silver King Lake.

Jennis Bay Marina This hospitable marina on the mainland has two resident dogs, Bravo and Koal, and miles of trails and logging roads to explore. As with most marinas in the Broughtons, the operators love dogs and don’t mind if they are loose on the docks, even at happy hour, as long as they behave and the owners provide supervision. Here, Solo got up close and personal with a salmon caught just off the dock by a visiting boater.

Kwatsi Bay Marina This small marina nestled among towering granite mountains in the Great Bear Rainforest has a pet potty area only a short walk from the top of the dock ramp. By dinghy, we found an area where we could take a longer walk in the woods to a spectacular waterfall where Solo frolicked in the bubbly freshwater.

Lagoon Cove Marina Probably one of the best-designed marinas for dogs, Lagoon Cove has a pet area at the top of the steps leading from the dock. A posted map of pet paths shows various trails, with distances, all leading back to the marina. Solo took the longest path to a rocky beach at the Blow Hole, the passage separating East Cracroft from Minstrel Island, where she enjoyed a refreshing swim.

Port Harvey Marine Resort Extensive logging roads through the hills behind this full-service marina provide long walks for energetic crew and canines.

Port McNeill Two separate full-service marinas allow easy access to a walking trail along a grassy waterfront that continues onto a dirt road. We stayed at the marina nearest the fuel dock, and Stewart, the manager’s yellow lab, greeted us each day. Solo got invited back for some fun doggie activities later in the year.

Squirrel Cove On Desolation Sound’s Cortes Island, numerous hiking trails lead from the marina, including a 3-mile trail to Von Donop Inlet in Ha’thayim Marine Provincial Park. The anchorage farther into the cove has a small islet where dogs can do their business and a reversing tidal stream that leads to a lagoon. A trail leads from the lagoon across the island, but we chose not to wait for a flood tide to access it.

Sullivan Bay Marina A designated grassy poop deck and a treat from the manager made Solo feel welcome at this full-service marina. Although great for walking among the float homes, the mile-long docks don’t offer ready access to shore. The marina plans to add a separate dingy-accessible dock and a trail through the woods, but neither was available during our stay.

Turnbull Cove A hilly trail leads to a dock at Huaskin Lake, the perfect place for owners and their dogs to take a refreshing dip and bask in the sunshine.

Not Dog-Friendly

Broughton Lagoon This beautiful anchorage has beach access, but the beach is too small for an extended walk. Solo made the best of it by going for a swim.

Claydon Bay With no trail there, we scrambled a short distance through bush to a creek where Solo had a drink.

Farewell Harbour This anchorage has a fishing lodge on private property that’s off-limits to transient boaters during the busy season. With no one in residence and no other shore access available, we allowed Solo to relieve herself on a patch of turf and take a short walk on the dock.

Potts Lagoon This well-protected cove has a cluster of small float homes linked by log-boomed sidewalks unsuitable for dog walking; instead, we used a small nearby islet that was difficult to access from our dingy. Near the end of flood tide, we dinghied with the current into a tranquil lagoon. Although we found no shore access in the lagoon, a quiet row provided Solo an opportunity to bird watch: bald eagles and herring gulls soared overhead while blue herons and black oystercatchers stalked the shallows. We lingered just long enough to catch the ebb flow back to our anchorage.

Refuge Cove This full-service marina in Desolation Sound has a designated patch of grass for dogs but has no nearby trails and is surrounded by private property.

Shawl Bay Marina This friendly marina has loads of amenities, including greeter dog Foxy, but Solo refused to use the marina’s small green area, preferring an old log dump that we accessed by dinghy.

Simoom Sound This dogleg inlet offers several anchorages, one of which has a small beach but little space to walk. A black bear foraging on the beach greeted us but retreated into the woods as we approached

Although the rocky beaches are unsuitable for walking, if your dog can handle a 15-minute dingy ride, you’ll find miles of old logging roads to explore.

Sutherland Bay Although the rocky beaches are unsuitable for walking, if your dog can handle a 15-minute dingy ride, you’ll find miles of old logging roads to explore.

This beautiful anchorage turned out to be Solo’s biggest disappointment: The “beach” was mostly mud, and we could only access the small islet at high tide. 

Waddington Bay This beautiful anchorage turned out to be Solo’s biggest disappointment: The “beach” was mostly mud, and we could only access the small islet at high tide.

Most marinas in the Broughtons are dog-friendly, but many quiet anchorages are not. At high tide, the sea goes right up to the trees, leaving little shore access. At lower tides, the barnacle- and oyster-studded shore can be hard on a soft-bottom dinghy and a dog’s paws.

Most marinas in the Broughtons are dog-friendly, but many quiet anchorages are not. At high tide, the sea goes right up to the trees, leaving little shore access. At lower tides, the barnacle- and oyster-studded shore can be hard on a soft-bottom dinghy and a dog’s paws.

This wilderness area is home to bears, cougars and coyotes, so keep your dog within view and under control when going ashore. Keep in mind that this list is not conclusive and marinas or anchorages may have changed since our visit.

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