Good and Getting Better

Otter Bay Marina on North Pender Island has all the amenities a boater needs.

Most marinas in the San Juans and Gulf Islands are popular due to their proximity to waterfront villages. Others are within easy walking distance to an excellent restaurant. Rarely are there marinas that need no association to be a worthy cruising destination.

Otter Bay Marina on North Pender Island is one of those unique facilities. Offering a wonderfully relaxing environment just north of the border, and one of the most beautiful family-oriented marinas in British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, Otter Bay Marina should not be missed.

Mariners approaching the marina are well advised to maintain a watch for B.C. ferries. Swanson Channel is a busy route for ferries traveling between Swartz Bay and Active Pass. There is also a ferry landing on the north side of Otter Bay.

Past the ferry landing, the marina lies just east of an elevated viewing deck with national and provincial flags. A green buoy just beyond marks the near-shore edge of the channel. The navigation rule “Red, Right, Return” means passing the buoy with it to port when entering the marina. Do not pass between the buoy and the dock, especially at low tide, or it could ruin your day.

New co-managers Karen Bordes and Les Spits took the helm in January 2018 and in their first year have made an excellent facility even better. The marina is open year round (reservations are recommended during the summer) and offers 15-, 30- and 50-amp power, water, washrooms, showers, laundry, a dog lawn, free Wi-Fi on the dock and throughout the grounds, a chandlery with groceries, a coffee bar, clothing, books, gift items and local artists’ wares. During the summer the store has frozen meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, a deli cooler, a bakery section and hand-scooped ice cream. The entire facility is one of the cleanest in the Gulf Islands, and the staff is personable.

The grounds and facilities are set up to entertain yacht club rendezvous and boating families. There is also a covered gazebo and large barbecues for yacht club or group functions.

Take a seat at one of three waterfront decks that overlook the marina and are cantilevered out over the water. We enjoy our morning coffee that way.

The marina has many amenities, including two heated swimming pools (one for families and the other for adults), two tetherball poles and scooter rentals for folks interested in exploring the island. Kayaks, paddleboards and eco tours are available from Dog Mermaid, located in the marina grounds. But visitors can always just kick back, relax and read their favorite book while sitting among the well-manicured flower gardens.

Boaters who want to hit the links are in luck. The nearby nine-hole Pender Island Golf & Country Club is a 20-minute walk from the marina, or for a nominal fee the marina will provide shuttle service.

One of the finest farmer’s markets in the Gulf Islands is held at the Pender Island Community Hall every Saturday from mid-May to September, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Local farmers, craftspeople and other vendors offer fresh fruit, vegetables, other food items and crafts of all varieties.

Launch the dinghy or kayak and head across the bay to Roesland, a portion of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. At the head of the dinghy dock ramp, discover a former 1908 farmhouse that now serves as the Pender Island Museum. It offers a glimpse into the island’s past. Take the short walk to the end of Roe Islet to experience the amazing view of Swanson Channel and Saltspring and Vancouver islands.

The marina is a stop for the island’s bus service. It has a regular route and schedule that makes the island accessible for marina visitors.