Port Renfrew

Port Renfrew is the name of the town at Port San Juan, a 2km by 6km bay on Vancouver Island facing the straight of Juan De Fuca. The bay is large and free of harzards except close to shore at the entrance. The bay gradually shallows to a beach and there is plenty of room to anchor at any depth. However, the bay is not very well sheltered.

There used to be a public dock at Port Renfrew, but it has been privatized. The dock was lined with sport-fishing charter-boats and has very little transient moorage. There was none available when we were there. Which might have been for the best as the dock is in terrible shape and the repair work that has been done in the recent past is of very poor quality. Add a surprisingly large amount of current and winds as strong as outside the bay and the docks were the most dangerous part of the day. Remember that we spent the whole day in strong winds, tall waves, and fog before you approach this particular dock.

Sailing Directions recommends “leaving Port San Juan for Neah Bay immediately if strong south west winds are encountered”. There is no shelter from the south west and the even the north westerly winds that prevail in Juan de Fuca funnelled up the bay, seemingly stronger than they were outside.

In short, I can’t recommend stoping at Port Renfrew. It is the only place to anchor between Bamfield and Sooke on the Canadian side of Juan de Fuca, so I have to recommend Neah Bay on the US side sight-unseen. The distances from Bamfield-Neah Bay and Neah Bay-Sooke are very close to those stopping in Port Renfrew, and Neah Bay could hardly be a worse anchorage.


  • Docks: yes
    • Washrooms: not at the docks
    • Showers: not at the docks
    • Laundry: not at the docks
    • Restaurant: yes
    • Gas: no
  • Mooring Cans: none, they’re on the chart but we didn’t see them.
  • Cell service: none

One Response to “Port Renfrew”

  1. Travels with Wai Whare » Blog Archive » Sailing Directions Says:

    […] There are, of course, many things that have changed since the paper was printed. New volumes are issued regularly, but we found inaccurate information several times; for instance, Port Renfrew no longer has a public dock. […]

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