Walsh Cove a Scenic Alternative to Desolation Sound

By Ron Sudlow

Mention Desolation Sound and thoughts turn to the beauty of Prideaux Haven or the spectacular 30-metre falls emptying Cassel Lake above Teakerne Arm.

Walsh Cove a Scenic Alternative to Desolation Sound Hot Spots

Walsh Cove - a scenic alternative to Desolation Sound hot spots

But sometimes it pays to take the channel less travelled. Especially if Prideaux has turned into a parking lot and only deep-water anchorages are left by the falls.

We actually took a few less-travelled channels to get to Walsh Cove, a compact, undeveloped Waddington Channel marine park tucked behind the Gorges Islets in the northwest corner of West Redonda Island.

Thanks to Freya’s heavy chain rode, we did manage to anchor near the dinghy dock at Cassel Lake where we enjoyed diving off rocks into water that was close to body temperature. The next morning, it was time to explore and continue our circumnavigation of West Redonda Island.

When we entered Lewis Channel on the west side of West Redonda Island, we found the wind on our nose but it wasn’t too long before we began a fabulous gennaker run through Deer Passage and Pryce Channel.

The scenery here is awe-inspiring, with glacier-topped mountains rising from the sea. There was a true sense of wilderness as only one other sailboat was heading in our direction while the nautical miles easily slipped under Freya’s keel.

We found the relatively narrow north entrance to Waddington Channel (with a charted rock right in the middle) and headed for Walsh Cove, described by cruising guides as the last protected anchorage before venturing up Toba Inlet with its many waterfalls.

The best entrance to the park is south of the Gorges Islets, leaving Bluff Point to starboard. The Dreamspeaker cruising guide says you can also enter via False Pass to the north of the islets but only at low water when the rocks are visible. The name False Pass might provide a clue as to the suitability of this choice, but once inside, it’s possible to swing at anchor in the middle of the cove or, as we did, stern tie to the shore.

In addition to being a natural breakwater and protection from the northerlies that funnel down Waddington, the wooded islets make great
picnic spots and offer views of the channel and the mountains of East Redonda Island.

The islets teem with shellfish and support scrub trees, salal and other vegetation like wild onion and thyme. Rocky ledges heated by the sun
can provide warm-water swimming although we found pretty good swimming off Freya’s lowered transom gate. (The boat’s sensor said the surface temperature of the water was 25C).

Butler Point and its rocky bluffs bearing Indian pictographs tower over the north end of the park above False Channel. While we didn’t go looking for it, Dreamspeaker also says there’s a fresh water pipe in a drying area in the northwest corner of the cove.

Walsh Cove is a pleasant, quiet spot that can easily be shared with a number of boats and it’s a great Plan B if you’re faced with shoehorning into Prideaux Haven or you’ve missed the tidal window to get over the bar guarding the entrance to Roscoe Bay.

September 12th, 2009