Tod Inlet is a busy anchorage in the summer months. The basin has all-weather protection, but the main attraction is nearby Butchart Gardens. The gardens have a dinghy dock that makes for easy landing and access to the spectacular garden display. And boats crowd the waterway on Saturday nights to watch their firework show.
That all-weather protection makes Tod Inlet a lovely, snug winter anchorage. Few boaters are about, although we’ve still never managed to anchor there alone. While the Butchart Gardens fireworks show doesn’t run in the winter, there’s an even better attraction: the Christmas light display. The gardens are lighted at night in the summer, but this pales in comparison. Elaborate displays throughout the park include waterfalls of light and sets depicting each verse of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It’s just amazing. If the Cirque du Soleil folks were asked to produce a light display, you’d expect something like this.
Entry, anchoring and other notes:
See the Waggoner Cruising Guide for approach and anchoring details. The Butchart Gardens dinghy dock is closed in the winter. This is just as well, because it can be a long cold ride around. To reach the gardens, land instead at Tod Inlet along the north shore. Go north on the trail that runs along the fence behind the washrooms and keep left at any forks. It’s a quarter mile to the Butchart Gardens parking lot exit at Benvenuto Avenue. Walk a short distance up the road to the main gates (see map).
Update: Graham Bell, of Butchart Gardens Public Relations, tells us that that the dinghy dock is in fact open during the winter. Visitors are discouraged from using the dock after dark during the Christmas season, however, because the Japanese Garden is not lit as part of the Christmas display and visitors must wait for an escort to pass through.