Whether it's the getting there or the relaxing atmosphere, you'll find something to enjoy and remember about Silva Bay.
In the years that Arlene and I have cruised north, we have always wanted to visit Silva Bay but just couldn’t find our way there for whatever reason. This past summer our float plan had us making that desired visit and it was well worth it, but getting there does challenge your navigation skills.
Located in the lee of the Flat Top Islands is a protected escape from the Strait of Georgia. A jigsaw puzzle of isles look like they separated from Gabriola Island eons ago. This maze of low-lying islands and menacing reefs conceal the bay’s entrance. On the chart, it appears as the personification of the saying, “you can’t get there from here.” It’s more than compensated for by what’s available to visitors of this beautiful small bay.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
Silva Bay is reputed for its tricky entrance because of legendary Ship Rock 1 but don’t let it deter you. The safe channel between Tugboat and Vance islands is narrow. Below the surface, rocky ledges restrict the channel width, with those projecting from the north and northwest side of Tugboat Island being particularly extensive. A number of vessels have grounded here. When entering, be sure to clear the shoals extending west from Shipyard Rock. Maintain a westerly heading until about halfway to Law Point before turning toward the facilities on the southwest shoreline.
MOOR YOUR VESSEL
The bay has almost no room for anchoring. The basin is filled with permanently moored boats and private mooring buoys. The open lane in front of the marina docks is for floatplane access.
Visitors have their choice of two marinas, Silva Bay Marina & Resort 2 and Page’s Resort & Marina 3 . We had a reservation — recommended for the summer months — for the night at Page’s, newly renovated and expanded to include guest moorage and a fuel dock (diesel and gas). Owners Gloria and Ken Hatfield have plans to increase the guest moorage in the coming year. The marina also offers moorage for vessels up to 65 feet, 15- and 30-amp power on new power pedestals, water, ice, washrooms, showers, laundry, ice and free Wi-Fi.
The resort was established in 1943 and the grounds are beautifully maintained with five cottages and tent sites for rent and decorated with relics from the past reminding us of times gone by.
We entered the office to pay our moorage and discovered it also served as a bookstore with the usual selection of cruising guides, charts and an extensive variety of titles about local subjects by local authors.
GET OUT AND EXPLORE
Gabriola Island is a great spot for walking and bicycling. If you don’t have a bike on board, you can rent one at Dock ‘N’ Rock Rentals in the building across the drive from the marina office. If you would rather conserve your energy, there are also mopeds available to rent. Venturing onto the island backroads by moped opens up a whole world of art studios and beaches and will certainly make for a fun time.
Visitors are welcome to drop by the Silva Bay Shipyard School 4 , next door, which offers a course in the basics of wooden boat building and repair. The training prepares students for employment at commercial boatyards.
STRETCH YOUR SEA LEGS
The afternoon of our visit, we walked the mile and a half to Drumberg Provincial Park on the north side of Gabriola Pass, east of Josef Point. The park is known for its sandstone outcroppings and small but pleasant sand beach. On the way we saw some of the island’s wildlife.
WET A LINE OR TAKE A PLUNGE
The area outside the Flat Top Islands can be excellent for salmon and bottomfishing. During our stay, we witnessed anglers returning to the dock with both salmon and lingcod.
Dive charters are available, and the natural and artificial reefs just outside of Silva Bay and surrounding Gabriola Island offer some of the best marine life diving on British Columbia’s coast. Breakwater Island and Rogers Reef include more than 200 marine species including resident wolf eels and octopus.
TEE IT UP
Golfers can take a taxi to the Gabriola Golf and Country Club. It’s a pastoral ninehole course laid out on rolling hillsides with some challenging and lovely holes. Clubs and cart rentals are available. The course is on the northwest side of the island, two miles from the ferry dock on Descanso Bay.