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Swimmingly Warm In Pendrell Sound – Desolation Sound, British Columbia

We left our anchorage at Octopus Islands late morning, during slack tide, to head to Pendrell Sound. Just as most days during this trip, we had sunny skies and calm waters for our day’s cruise.

“How was the swimming at Pendrell Sound?”

We often get asked this question in regards to how a cruising territory meets some fairly typical cruisers desired water activities. The reason I bring this up in this post has to do with our stop in Pendrell Sound. British Columbia’s Desolation Sound is located within close proximity to the 50th parallel. As a reference the only place above this parallel, in the United States, is Alaska. With that said you’d think the water would be too frigid to go swimming. Not so!

If you look at a map you’ll notice Queen Charlotte and Johnstone Straits are situated north of Desolation Sound, while the Strait of Georgia is to the south. In the middle sits Desolation Sound where the meeting of the tides occurs. The proximity of these straits and poor tidal circulation, as described to me by a local boater, is what maintains a year-round water temperature averaging 74° and some of the warmest salt water north of Mexico. We initially thought our thermometer was broken when we stuck it in the water to gauge the temperature before jumping in. It registered a surprising 79 degrees (most of the rest of the Pacific Northwest bodies of salt water averages a brisk 48 to 54 degrees).

With that said we didn’t waste any time getting into the water after getting settled into our two-day anchorage, located at the very tip of Pendrell Sound.

We spent most of our time in Pendrell Sound swimming and relaxing in the warm sun. In between swimming and enjoying our new fjord-like setting, we ventured off to explore the upper part of the large cove by dinghy. There was quite a variety of vessels anchored in our midst, everything from boats our size to a mega yacht and everything in between.

Returning from our dinghy ride, we stopped to visit a large oyster farm not far from our anchorage. Oysters like warm water and seem to thrive in Desolation Sound. While talking to one of the farmers, we learned that the warm, dependable, water temperature of Pendrell Sound makes it an ideal location for this major oyster culture operation, specifically to collect oyster seed (spat). Pendrall Sound was eventually set aside as a reserve to protect breeding oyster stocks. The type of oyster most widely cultivated in BC and the PNW is the Pacific oyster which is not native to the area, most of the seed was imported from Japan to British Columbia between 1930 and 1940s when they eventually became naturally established. Like most farming the work they do looks pretty demanding, but if you like to work outside and be on the water with Mother Nature I don’t think you could find a better setting than Pendrell Sound.

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It was hard to leave Pendrell Sound in our wake as we headed out after two days of blissful anchoring, but there is still more for us to explore before we leave Desolation Sound.

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