Gorge Harbour, Cortes – Anchorage Review

Post updated July 1, 2018

Approach & Impressions

The Cortes Island anchorage in Gorge Harbour is an almost completely enclosed cove, save for the approx. 100m wide entrance on the south side of Cortes Island.

There is only one way to enter the Gorge. As it has some rocky features nearby and is well trafficked, you’ll want to motor through the entrance. It’s a very short entrance though, with good visibility, so you can see who is coming through when you enter. (Watch for the petroglyphs high up on the cliff face as you enter!)

Just be wary of the oyster barges and any floating crabbing / oyster balls just off to the right as you finish entering. Some of the balls are small – some were also black in colour and hard to see – so just be cautious.

Immediately as you enter the Gorge you should see the Gorge Harbour Marina across the water, with a bunch of boats anchored in front. Many may be on mooring balls, offered by the private marina, but you can anchor here for free as well.

We chose to have some space on our own, so we steered right toward the easternmost end of the Gorge. We passed through Tan and Ring Islands in the middle of the cove, and were greeted by several more oyster farms and a wide-open anchoring area in the middle.

Popularity

The area we were anchored in at the eastern end of the Gorge rarely receives much traffic, so you can potentially have the entire area to yourself for weeks on end (as we did). There is so much room to anchor in the Gorge, and most prefer to anchor closer to the Marina in order to access its amenities.

In the heat of summer (August), you may experience a flurry of activity, as some very large yachts may come in and anchor for a night or two. Again, though, we’ve never had a problem with anchoring neighbours… and most, as I said, prefer the west side of the Gorge.

Anchoring & Protection

The Gorge is deep anchoring, ranging from 40 – 60 foot depths with a mud bottom. If you’re looking for shelter, this is a very good place to come. Just make sure you have enough chain/rode to get your desired scope.

In our spot on the east side of Tan & Ring Islands, we anchored in 55 feet of water with 175 feet of rode out (just over a 3-to-1 scope) with our new Ultra anchor.

Watch your charts as you move around the Gorge. Some areas close to Tan and Ring Islands have a few uncovers (i.e. rocky outcroppings that aren’t visible at high tide but clear the water’s surface at low tide). Other areas have underwater cables where you can’t anchor, and the ‘no-anchor’ signs may not always be super obvious.

Wind

With land mass on virtually all sides, you get really good wind protection in the Gorge.

We haven’t been in here when there were gusts of any significance, but we’d expect the holding to be quite good with the thick mud bottom and land shelter.

That said, if the winds came out of the west, they would have decent amount of open water with which to pick up speed over, potentially causing gusting at the eastern end of the Gorge (where we were). If that were the case, it would be a prudent measure to pick up and move toward the western end of the Gorge and settle in closer to the land mass for better protection.

Currents

Very mild currents here. We were anchored for over a week this summer, and about 10 days last August. Never had a problem with currents.

Other Useful Info

The Gorge Harbour Marina, located at the western end of the Gorge (across from the Gorge entrance) is a beautiful marina complete with fuel dock, fresh water, power hookup, Wi-Fi, restaurant, grocery/liquor store, showers, laundry, pool, camping, and resort rooms. You can also fill up your propane tanks here. Showers were a bit costly ($1 for 6 minutes), and given the island’s remoteness most everything is at a premium (from Internet to food). But, it’s all a part of the experience, right?

Actually, their grocery store slash liquor store is quite well stocked for a tiny island store. They even had locally sourced meats and craft beers to select from. We enjoyed taking the dinghy to the marina every so often from our haven in the east to pick up dinner stuffs.

They take meticulous care of the grounds. The staff were very friendly and helpful, as well. When we visited the area last summer we liked it so much we decided to get married here; and that is exactly what we did (cool wedding compilation and peek at Gorge Harbour here!). We reserved a slip at the dock for a few nights so that we could entertain our family and friends easily on the boat, where we ended up having our ceremony as well. It was a beautiful day, made all the more special by the awesome facilities and very attentive staff.

On anchoring at the east end of the Gorge, we should note that the oyster docks are *working* docks. This means that from morning to close to nightfall, there are labourers in motorboats zipping back and forth quite frequently. We got used to hearing them and bobbing along with their wake. It didn’t disturb us, but it might disturb some.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Cheers, 

  – Morgan
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