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Sailing Around the world in a yacht

Tips for Long Range Cruising

Sailing Around the World? Here’s How to Prepare

Before taking your motor yacht or sailboat out on the open ocean for weeks, months, or years at a time, there are a lot of important things to consider. Here is a list of things you need to do to prepare for life on the open sea.

Read More: Important Items to Bring on Your Boat

  1. Communications Plansailing around the world on a yacht
  • Inform your family and friends back home of your approximate travel itinerary. This is mainly so they don’t worry about your whereabouts.
  • As cellphone fees can be extraordinary out at sea, plan ahead by expanding your data plan. And keep in mind that relying on a cellphone alone will not be adequate for long range cruising.
  • Ensure you have a working VHF radio onboard and that everyone knows how to use it. A VHF is essential for weather updates, making or responding to mayday calls, and communicating with your fellow cruisers. Make sure your EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) is also in working order.
  1. Paperwork
  • Ensure you have acquired all the necessary paperwork required to operate your boat. This includes your Registration papers (registration required if leaving Canada) , boat insurance, VHF operator’s certificate, and personal photo identification (passports) for everyone onboard.
  • Research any applicable visa requirements for the destination countries you’ll be visiting for long periods of time.
  • Plan to obtain all of the paperwork you need well before your intended cast off date to avoid disappointment if paperwork isn’t filed in time.
  • Make sure your financials are in order. Pick up foreign currency if you can ahead of time, and let your credit card companies know you’ll be travelling.
  • Consider any additional paperwork, such as for your pets.
  1. Pack the Right Provisions
  • Stock your yacht with specialty foods you won’t be able to get in other parts of the world that you might be craving. Some examples include your favourite condiments, coffee and teas, cereals, candies, chocolates, canned soups, and sodas.
  • Pack produce that has a long shelf life, like apples and oranges, carrots, celery, and onions, while avoiding produce that perishes quickly, like bananas.
  • You can typically source staple foods like rice and beans from your destination countries.sailing around the world tips - life jacket
  • Remember that going to restaurants while moored or anchored is one of the major expenses of sailing around the world that can be drastically reduced by preparing as much as you can onboard your yacht.
  1. Toiletries and Medications
  • Planning to have enough of the right toiletries and medication on board might take more foresight than you’d think. It takes time to book appointments with your doctor and get prescriptions filled, depending on your physician. Don’t leave this to the last minute!
  • Don’t overstock items like over the counter medications, as these have expiration dates. You might also be able to find common OTC medications at your destination countries for much cheaper.
  • Check the contents of your First Aid Kit and find out who on board your boat is familiar with everything in it. Does more than one person on board have First Aid training?
  1. Mechanical, Electrical,& Plumbing
  • A boat mechanic can be hard to come by when you’re at sea, so do all you can to learn about the mechanics of your boat. You want to be able to troubleshoot and repair your yacht’s engines and mechanical systems yourself as much as possible. Take classes, watch YouTube videos, and find other boaters who can give you a rundown on your boat. Tinker on land as much as possible prior to your trip.
  • Don’t leave home without the tools and spare parts to get jobs done quickly on the go.
  • Study your boat’s sink, shower, and toilets to understand how they operate and what to do if there are leaks or clogs.
  • Your yacht’s electrical system powers everything from your lights and appliances to your navigational instruments. Study boating manuals and know what batteries on your model need to be prioritized, and how long they last. Again, try for hands-on tinkering where possible.
  1. Entertainment Options
  • Think about how you’ll spend your downtime on the boat in between ports and pack up whatever you’ll need for rainy days, including books, board games, cards, laptops, movies, music, and more.
  • Find out ahead of time what your fellow passengers are most looking forward to during the trip. If your goals aren’t all that aligned, it might be worth reconsidering the duration of the trip, or postponing the trip until all parties are “on board”, so to speak.
  • If you’ll be working or otherwise checking in with the office from time to time, make sure you have all the supplies you need to earn a living while at sea if need be.
  1. SafetyChecks
  • Ensure everything you need for safety’s sake is accounted for. This includes life rafts, life jackets, that First Aid Kit as mentioned above, fire extinguishers, a working radio (also mentioned above), and the right anchor for the seabeds you’ll be navigating.
  • Safety also means ensuring handrails are screwed tightly in place, there are no tripping hazards anywhere, and there are no burned out exterior or interior lights.
  • Debrief everyone who will be travelling with you on the location of all safety equipment on board.
  1. Consult Your Fellow Cruisers
  • Before setting out on the journey of a lifetime, ask other boaters for their tips and suggestions. They can be especially helpful when it comes to favourite destinations, routes, durations of stays, dangerous areas, expensive cities, and so on.
  • Experienced boaters have up-to-date information as well as the wisdom of trial and error. Learn from them! If you’re new to the yachting community, start by talking to your yacht broker, chat up other boaters entering the marina and at trade shows, and check out online forums.

Be Sure the Boating Lifestyle is Right For You

enjoying life yachting around the world

There are so many things to love about life on a yacht, but it’s understandably not for everyone. Cruising can be considered physically and mentally challenging at times, especially if you’re not used to being away from home for long periods.

Before journeying out for weeks or months at a time, be absolutely certain that yachting for long durations is the right choice for you. Ask yourself, do you have a passion for the outdoors and will you be happy constantly being at the mercy of Mother Nature?

Experiment with any long range cruising “thresholds” you might have by staying close to shore for extended periods at a time before heading out for longer ocean crossings to see how you manage.

When yachting, you might have to contend with things like:

  • sea sickness (yourself or your passengers)
  • cooking and sleeping while the boat is rocking
  • not being able to follow a strict schedule
  • not being able to make quick trips to the mall or grocery store
  • missing family and friends back home
  • anxiety around stormy, rough oceans
  • never feeling like your clothing is completely dry
  • giving up your regular spa treatments and gym membership

Fortunately, today’s modern yachts provide so many luxuries and comforts that long range cruising can be made ultra-comfortable. From laundry machines to dishwashers and smartphone chargers, to enclosed decks and enough storage for all of life’s necessities on board, modern luxury motor yachts present today’s boaters with everything they need to experience life at home while out at sea.

Many of the yachts for sale at Van Isle Marina are suitable for long range cruising, whether that’s up and down the coastline, or across continents. We hope the above suggestions help you plan for smooth sailing and the trip of a lifetime. Contact us for more information on any of the above or to learn more about our boats for sale.

Central Island Hiking Trails

Top 10 Hiking Destinations on Central Vancouver Island From North to South and everywhere in between, Vancouver Island is home to countless world-class hiking trails for all skill levels. Below is a list of Van Isle Marina staff’s favourite hiking destinations around the Central part of Vancouver Island. We offer this post as a complement […]

VHF Marine Radio Etiquette

VHF Marine Radio Etiquette

10 Basic Rules of Radio Etiquette When Using Your Yacht’s VHF Radio

If you’re new to the boating community, familiarizing yourself with some simple radio etiquette will help you feel more confident when out on the water. Van Isle Marina has you covered with our handy beginner’s guide to VHF radio etiquette.

But before we get to the etiquette, there are 2 main housekeeping rules:

1. Never Leave Shore without a VHF-FM Radio Onboard

Motorboat operators, and especially yacht operators, should never leave the shore, dock, or marina without a VHF-FM radio on board their vessel. VHF stands for Very High Frequency, and when you’re out at sea, a VHF radio is your primary way to send and receive distress calls to and from the Coast Guard and other boaters.

Why Your Cellphone Won’t Cut It – VHF radios are still the preferred communication method for boaters, despite everyone having a smartphone these days. They are more reliable than cell phones out on the open sea because they can withstand rough weather, are wired to your boat’s battery so they are always charged, and consistently provide more reception than cellphones. They are of large benefit to boaters because they can reach a larger audience than a cellphone, and you don’t have to memorize any phone numbers to communicate with other boats.

2. Take a VHF Course & Get Certified

It’s better for all boaters if every operator of a VHF marine radio is trained up on how to use one. That’s why, as required by the Radio Communications Act, all VHF marine radio operators must carry a Restricted Operator

VHF marine radio etiquette

Certificate (Maritime). Get your certificate, often referred to by its abbreviation – ROC(M) – through the Canadian Power & Sail Squadrons (CPS), which handles training and testing for Industry Canada.

Find a VHF marine radio course in your area. The training course will prepare you for a short exam and go more in depth on the etiquette mentioned here, as well as show you how to use the device.

Note that you don’t need an ROC(M) to just listen to weather updates over your radio.

Now, let’s move on to radio etiquette.

10 Basic Rules to Marine Radio Etiquette

1. Keep chatter to a minimum on open channels.

On a VHF radio, channel 16 is an open channel, where all conversations are essentially public and overheard by other boats. You’re not on a private phone call when you’re speaking over a VHF radio. Keep side conversations about dinner plans on general-use channels like 68 or 72. Or better yet, use your cell phones for these types of plans.

2. Be aware of the working channels for your area and keep the right ones clear.

For example, a local water taxi company might use a specific channel to run their business, so try and keep it clear, simply out of courtesy. This will happen naturally if you abide by rule #1 regarding keeping chatter to a minimum in general. Commercial craft and drawbridge operators will also have their own dedicated channels they prefer, so keep them clear as well.

Channel 16 is reserved for maydays and other warning calls, so it’s also definitely one to keep clear.

3. To indicate you’re done speaking and awaiting a response, say “over”.

The word over is used to signify that your sentence is over and that you are now waiting for a reply. Of all the radio etiquette out there, this might be the one rule you already knew about, as it’s featured on TV and the movies constantly. However, it’s easy to forget to say it after awhile, so make it a habit right from the start.

4. When you are finished with the conversation, do not say “over and out.”

Contrary to popular belief, “OVER” and “OUT” are never used at the same time, since their meanings are mutually exclusive.

5. When you’re first calling on another boat, repeat the name of the boat you’re calling three times.

…Then repeat the name of your boat three times as well. For good measure, also mention the channel you’re using, and remember to conclude with “over”. For example, this would be a proper way to contact a vessel named Annabelle: “Annabelle, Annabelle, Annabelle, this is Christine, Christine, Christine, channel 1-6, over.” It may seem wordy, but it’s proper VHF radio etiquette.

6. When responding to another boat who has called you, state their name, then your name.

The other boater will know right away that you received their message and are now responding. Saying their name back right away grabs their attention immediately. There is no need to state their name and then your name three times each. Once is fine when you’re responding to a call.

For example, to respond to Christine, the response would simply be, “Christine, this is Annabelle. Over.”

7. Learn and use the NATO phonetic alphabet.

When you’re having to communicate single letters, use the NATO phonetic alphabet so that the person receiving your message is absolutely clear on each letter you’re speaking. This means familiarizing yourself with the “Alpha”, “Bravo,” “Charlie,” “Delta,” names that refer to letters. It’s a universal language when out on the water.

8. Read numbers as single digits.

Another universal standard for VHF radio use is reading out single digits instead of longer more complex numbers. So, it’s clearer and easier to understand “one-six” to refer to channel sixteen, and “six-eight” referring to channel sixty-eight. This especially helps when there is a language barrier amongst boaters.

9. Know about the types of calls you’ll hear

There are  three main types of calls you’re likely to overhear on your VHF radio: securité, pan-pan, and mayday calls. Knowing the severity of each one of these calls and how they affect you is important. Likewise, when making these types of calls, using the right call at the right time is more than just proper etiquette – it’s proper efficiency!

  • Securité (a French word, pronounced “securitay”) calls are meant to alert all nearby boaters to something. This is an informational call or message, and nothing more. For example, a commercial ship leaving a dock might broadcast on channel 16 the fact that they are on the move. Other times, the Coast Guard will broadcast securité messages too, such as missing navigation marks, upcoming storms, or debris in the area. There is no true danger, but something to be mindful of.
  • Pan-pan (pronounced pahn-pahn) calls are meant to alert all nearby boaters when there is an emergency onboard a vessel, but it is not a life or death situation. Pan-pan calls are not a call for help, although they do signify that something significant has happened on board, which may lead to an all-out mayday call. The Coast Guard and other nearby boats are made aware of the situation but do not provide immediate rescue.
  • Mayday calls are broadcast when there is a catastrophic event, such as a sinking vessel, a fire on board, or someone on board requiring immediate medical assistance. The proper etiquette here is to not abuse the use of a mayday call. Use it as a last resort only! If you hear a mayday call and are close enough to respond, you must do so.

10. Watch your language

While we’re on the topic of etiquette, we thought it would be worth it to mention avoiding foul language. Remember, your conversations on VHF radio are heard by other boaters, so it’s best to be respectful and watch your language. Keep it clean out there!

The above guide to radio etiquette covers the basics and is a good place to start if you haven’t spent much time operating a vessel before. However, there is still much to learn when it comes to the use of your radio and yacht’s navigational system. (See housekeeping rule #2 above about taking a course and getting certified).

Van Isle Marina’s yachting experts will be happy to provide you with more radio tips for any of the boats you’re interested in at our marina. Contact us to learn more about touring our marina and our new and used boats.

10 Attractions on Vancouver Island

10 Attractions on Vancouver Island

Visiting Vancouver Island for a Few Days?
Here are Some of the Most Popular Attractions to Check Out

From North to South, Vancouver Island is home to many world-class tourist attractions. Below is a list of Van Isle Marina staff’s top recommendations. If you’ll be visiting the island by boat, you can moor your boat at our marina before or after you set out to see more of what our Island has to offer (see our yacht park rates to learn more).

1. Butchart GardensTourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Butchart Gardens

Located a short distance from Victoria in Brentwood Bay, Butchart Gardens is a 55-acre garden that is tended to by a team of more than 50 gardeners. The garden oasis is home to at least 900 plant varieties and has a history going back 100+ years. Give yourself at least two hours to experience everything Butchart Gardens has to offer. It’s even more enchanting if you can make it during the holiday season.

Tourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Royal BC museum2. Royal BC Museum

In downtown Victoria right by the city’s inner harbour, the Royal BC Museum showcases 550 million years of natural history and 9,000 years of human history in BC. Inside there are 7 million artifacts, specimens, and documents waiting for you, making this destination one of Canada’s leading museums and research centres. Be sure to take in an IMAX feature while you’re there.

3. BC Parliament BuildingsTourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - BC Parliament Buildings Legislature

The BC parliament buildings are also in Victoria and are home to the legislative assembly of British Columbia. The buildings date back to 1864, and free tours are offered throughout the year. Visitors can also enjoy an afternoon in the park in front of the grounds, taking pictures and picnicking. This impressive site is a top attraction in BC’s capital city. You’ll find the BC parliament buildings in Victoria’s downtown inner harbour, next to the museum.

It’s worth noting that Victoria’s inner harbour is a Vancouver Island attraction on its own, with the picturesque Fairmont Empress Hotel, horse-drawn carriage rides, stunning views, whale watching excursions, harbour ferries and much more on offer.

Tourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Coombs Market Goats on the Roof4. Coombs Old Country Market

The Old Country Market in Coombs is home to the world-famous Goats on the Roof – which is exactly what it sounds like! Above the market are 2-3 goats living in peaceful harmony as thousands of shoppers browse the market below. The market is open daily from March to December, offering tourists and locals alike a huge selection of baked goods, deli delights, ethnic foods, children’s toys, local produce, and housewares.

Coombs is a small town in Central Vancouver Island on the Alberni Highway, near Parksville and Qualicum Beach. While the market is the focal point of the town, there are more shops and restaurants towards the back of the market, making a stop in Coombs more than just a quick pit stop.

5. TofinoTourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Tofino Aerial Beach

Located on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Tofino is a small coastal village that people come from around the world to experience. There is plenty to do in Tofino, including whale watching, kayaking, shopping, craft beer tasting, golfing, biking, hiking, fishing, and storm watching. There is beach on one side and plenty of forest nearby. Choose from a wide range of accommodations, or better yet, bring your boat!

Tofino is also a foodie’s paradise, with many top chefs establishing restaurants in the resorts.

Near Tofino there is also the breathtaking shorelines of Long Beach, Chesterman Beach, Mackenzie Beach, and others – with Long Beach being the longest sandy beach on the West Coast. Not far from Tofino is another town called Ucluelet, with equally beautiful beaches.

Tourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Cathedral Grove Douglas Firs

6. Cathedral Grove

On your way to Tofino, you’ll drive through Cathedral Grove, an old growth forest just outside of Port Alberni. Cathedral Grove is easy to miss if you’re driving too fast and not looking out for the huge, 800-year-old ancient Douglas firs and the red cedars. So, slow down and be on the lookout for parked cars and tall trees on the side of the highway.

Cathedral Grove is perfect for nature lovers and great for kids. It features well-maintained walkways, well-marked trails, free parking, and plenty of photo-worth backdrops. Challenge yourself and try to get an entire tree in one frame!

7. Horne Lake CavesTourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Horne Lake Caves

Horne Lake Caves on Central Vancouver Island near Parksville / Qualicum give you a unique opportunity to really get inside the island. At this provincially managed park, deemed “Vancouver Island’s hidden jewel” there is a wide variety of tour options on offer, catering to all different skill levels.

See more caves to explore on Vancouver Island.

Tourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Wildplay Victoria & Nanaimo8. Nanaimo & Victoria WildPlay

WildPlay in Nanaimo is an adventure park offering the Island’s only river canyon bungee jumping opportunity, along with an aerial obstacle course, ziplines, and a primal swing. It’s a not-to-miss attraction for the thrill seekers in your group, opened during the spring and summer. And if you’re in Victoria, there’s a WildPlay there as well!

9. Duncan Totem PolesTourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Duncan Totem Poles

Duncan, known as The City of Totems, is home to more than 40 totem poles located throughout the town. Each beautifully carved totem pole contributes to the city’s First Nations culture and history. Follow the yellow footprints in the sidewalk for a self-guided walking tour or take the virtual tour to learn more about each totem before experiencing them in person.

Duncan is the economic hub for the Cowichan Region of Vancouver Island. Take in its heritage buildings and huge mix of restaurants and shops as you experience the totems.

Tourist Attractions on Vancouver Island - Chemainus Murals10. Chemainus Murals

Stick to the main highway on Vancouver Island and you might miss the seaside community of Chemainus – but it’s definitely worth a trip off the beaten path! Chemainus is known as The City of Murals. There are 44 murals in the small town, many of which are a tribute to the area’s mining, fishing, and forestry heritage. Grab an official Souvenir Mural Map from the Visitor Centre to take a self-guided tour of the massive murals, or simply follow the yellow footprints on the sidewalks.

Along with the murals, Chemainus offers the famous Chemainus Theatre, tons of shopping, family owned restaurants and cafes, antique shops, artisan shops and several small parks. It gets bustling in the summer months, leaving us to believe the secret’s out with this island attraction!

More to See & Do

We suggest combining any of the above attractions with one or two of our recommended South Island Hiking Trails before picking up your boat from our marina – to give your legs one last workout on land before setting sail again. Then, if you still have time, be sure to check out the area’s boat-only access beaches for further Vancouver Island exploration.

And finally, if you’re coming to visit us here at Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC, but don’t have time to explore more of Vancouver Island, there is plenty to see and do right here!

Read more: 15 Things to Do in Sidney, BC

The above attractions are just some of the exciting things Vancouver Island has to offer. Ask our staff for more ideas, including all the best places to experience by boat. Van Isle Marina is one of the largest full-service marinas in British Columbia – we know our boats and the island very well. Check out our new and used yachts and boats for sale.

How to choose the right yacht

Choosing the Right Yacht For Your Needs

On the Market for Your First Yacht? Here are 10 Things to Ask Yourself

There are a lot of different types of yachts out there. Here’s how to narrow down the selection and find the right yacht for you.

While it’s tempting to go off things like looks and speed alone, there’s plenty more that goes into deciding on your first yacht. Check out our quick guide for first-time yacht buyers, designed to help you choose the best yacht for your needs.

Deciding on what type of yacht to buy starts with the answers to a few quick questions, such as:sailing yachts vs motor yachts

1. Would you prefer a sailing yacht or a motor yacht?

Yachts are divided into two main categories: sailing yachts and motor yachts. A sailing yacht offers a quieter ride and a more economical method of powering your vessel (the wind!) while a motor yacht is faster, more intuitive to operate for many, and typically has more accommodation and entertaining space on board.

Determining if you want to buy a sailing yacht or a motor yacht helps you eliminate half the yachts on the market!

2. How will you be spending the majority of your time on your yacht?

Today’s yachts are built for many different purposes, such as fishing, watersports, cruising, entertaining, year-round living, or a combination of all of the above. If you’ll mainly be using your yacht for fishing, for example, look for a boat with a large self-draining cockpit, several storage bins for your tackle, and even rod holders.

Sporting yachts will have large swim platforms and lots of storage for equipment, while yachts built for long-range cruising and entertaining might have crew quarters or an extra bedroom. Yachts intended for year-round living will have extras like laundry machines, a dishwasher, and a larger power supply and water-holding capacity.

3. How far and how fast would you like to go?selecting a yacht - van isle marina

The answer to this question dictates things like how much fuel and water-holding capacity you’ll need on board, as well as how powerful your motors ought to be. There are yachts intended specifically for long-range cruising that are quieter and have better fuel consumption, for example.

If you’ll be at sea for long durations of time, consider a model that provides plenty of protection from the elements beyond that just offered on the accommodation level, so you can still entertain and enjoy the views.

4. What is your budget?

When budgeting for a yacht, you must account for things like moorage fees, fuel fees, insurance fees, repair and maintenance fees, and add-ons like safety equipment, tenders, and anchors – these costs might factor into how much you should realistically be spending on your boat.

In general, the bigger the budget, the bigger and newer the yacht, but a larger budget doesn’t always equal a larger boat. For example, you might opt for something newer with more luxury features but sacrifice a bit in the size of the yacht. So, determine your budget first, then your priorities. If funds are limited, decide:

  1. new and luxurious, but smaller; or
  2. older and simpler, but larger?

5. Are you comfortable with an older model, or prefer brand-new?

The answer to this question goes hand in hand with the question regarding your budget. The pros and cons of buying a new vs. used yacht are the same as buying any used vehicle. If you decide to buy used, be sure to read our guide to Buying a Pre-Owned Yacht to understand what’s involved in the process.

6. How experienced are you operating a boat?

If you are a new boater and ease of operation is high on your list of wants and needs, look for a yacht model that touts features such as single-interface touchscreen technology and EJS joystick manoeuvrability that make navigation and docking a breeze. Likewise, you may want to skip some of the added features like side thrusters until you get a handle on the basics.

If you’ll be giving up the captain’s chair to other people from time to time, it becomes more important to look for a yacht that is simple and intuitive to operate.

7. Who will be spending the most time on your yacht?choosing the right yacht - family activities

Think about who you will be bringing on board your yacht. If you’ll be entertaining guests frequently, room for everyone to spread out and enjoy themselves should be high on the priority list. Find this level of luxury on yachts with more than one entertainment zone. Open and enclosed flybridge models provide added entertaining space, as do the mezzanine areas of several luxury yacht models on the market right now.

If seniors and children will be on board, you’ll want enhanced safety features all around – things like lots of lighting, plenty of handrails, and wide side decks can help guests feel safe. Wheelchair accessibility is another thing to keep in mind.

8. Will you be spending a lot of overnights on your yacht?

Most yachts have at minimum a queen-sized berth that sleeps 2 comfortably. If you plan on yachting with friends and family overnight, you’ll want something with enough sleeping quarters for everyone – but this doesn’t always equate to a guest room. Sometimes a convertible day bed can meet everyone’s needs.

Yachts in the 45 to 65 foot range have up to four bedrooms and three bathrooms, with enough convertible lounges and daybeds to comfortably sleep 8-16 people.

9. How big of a boat do you realistically need?

Remember that the bigger the boat, the bigger the fuel consumption in many cases. Also in some cases, bigger boats are tougher to navigate, especially if you’ll be moored at a busy marina. And if you’ll be storing on dry land, you’ll need to consider storage options large enough for your yacht. If you’re new to boating, you might consider a small yacht first, then upgrade to a larger yacht.

10. Will you be wanting to re-sell your yacht down the road?Sporting Yacht with swim platform

Ask your yacht broker for advice on the re-sale value of the models that have caught your eye. Some makes and models are in high demand but short supply due to limited numbers in production – meaning they will hold their value well into the future. If you plan on selling in a few years, consider re-sale value before buying.

Additional Tips for Choosing the Right Yacht

In some ways, buying a yacht is just like buying anything else – you’re going to feel better making such a large investment if you know you are making an informed, educated decision – so do your homework:

Read Boating Magazines and Blogs – These resources are gold mines of tips and tricks for yacht enthusiasts looking to make their first purchase.

Go to Boat Shows – Boat shows are your best chance to see hundreds of boats up close and personal. There is bound to be a few boats calling your name at each boat show you attend.

Ask Around – If you’re touring a marina and happen upon a boat owner tending to their vessel at the dock, strike up a conversation and learn more about their yacht and what they like about it. Most boaters will be happy to share.

Read Reviews – Whether they’re online or in those yachting magazines, read what other people are saying about their yachts.

Consult a Broker   Consult a yacht broker through your local marina who can connect you with owners of pre-owned yachts, review current stock with you, or present you with options that are not even on the market yet!

Take a look at Van Isle Marina’s boat and yachts for sale to start your search today! To learn more about any listed vessel, please contact us at 250.656.1138 or info@vanislemarina.com. Our experienced yacht brokers can help you choose the right yacht to fit your yachting lifestyle.

Different Types of Fishing Lures

An Introduction to the Best Lures for Catching Fish in BC

If you’re thinking about finally doing some fishing aboard your boat for the first time, check out our guide to the different types of lures there are to choose from, and how they work. The lures on this list are suitable for many different types of fish in BC, including salmon, trout, and groundfish.

Below is the Van Isle Marina team’s introduction of the top fishing lures we recommend trying out the next time you take your sport yacht or fishing boat out on the ocean or lake. All of the items described below are available in several different sizes, colours, and brands, so you’ll need to:

  • Choose your size based on the size of your target species.
  • Choose your colour based on the water’s depth and clarity; and
  • Choose your brand based on your budget and personal preference.

Using the lures listed below to your advantage will require some practice and experimentation, which we believe is all part of the fun of learning a new hobby.

Type of Lure: SpinnersTypes of Fishing Lures - Spinner Lure

A spinner, or spinnerbait as it is sometimes called, is essentially a shiny and reflective metal blade that spins freely when it is reeled or trolled through the water. Spinners come in different sizes and styles and sometimes feature more than one metal blade.

How Spinners Work: The motion of a spinner moving in the water resembles a small swimming fish, which your target species hopefully mistakes as its next meal, thereby biting your line. Salmon and trout can sense spinners partly via their reflective appearance, and partly by their vibrations, which are especially effective in murky waters, where salmon tend to hang out often.

Types of Fishing Lures - Spoon LureType of Lure: Spoons

Fishing lures known as spoons are metal lures that are a little less round and a little longer than an average teaspoon. Spoons come in a wide range of sizes and colours, and usually come with a hook already, making them relatively straightforward to use.

How Spoons Work: Spoons work like spinners – they resemble small baitfish when wobbling in the water. Your spoon size should match or come close to the size of the fish your target fish species would be on the hunt for, based on the season or time of year.

Type of Lure: PlugsTypes of Fishing Lures - Plug Lure

A plug is a solid piece of rigid plastic that is painted to look like a fish, usually a herring. They are sometimes reflective as well. Some plugs, called wobbling plugs, are made of two pieces hinged together. Such plugs are designed to wobble in the water, adding a bit of movement to an otherwise static lure.

How Plugs Work: Plugs are painted and designed to look like fish, a.k.a. a food source that lures larger fish in. Wobbling plugs, with their two pieces instead of one, cause a flutter in the water as they’re being reeled in, creating a much-needed vibration to lure in salmon in murky water.

Types of Fishing Lures - Hoochie LureType of Lure: Hoochies

Meant to resemble small squid, hoochies are those brightly coloured, squishy plastic lures with strands of plastic tassels and painted on eyes. They come in a wide variety of colours, sizes, and styles – usually without any hooks or flashers, allowing you to customize your rig by supplementing your own additional lures and live bait.

How Hoochies Work: Hoochies are bright, which attract fish to the end of your line, but their lack of reflective properties and the fact that they are motionless make them not as effective when they are used alone.

Type of Lure: FlashersTypes of Fishing Lures - Flasher Lure

A flasher is a long, thin, shiny rectangular piece of metal, or piece of plastic with an added metallic adhesive tape or sticker on it. Flashers range in size and colour, with the largest ones being about a foot long. They are usually recommended at depths below 50 feet.

How Flashers Work: In the right weather conditions, to your target species, a flasher looks like another larger fish who is ferociously attacking its prey. This signifies to nearby salmon or trout that there is  food present, causing them to swim closer to the flasher to check out what’s going on. Ideally this leads to your target species biting your bait!

Flashers are only required when you are using lures that don’t move on their own in the water, such as hoochies. They aren’t required if you are already using spinners, wobbling plugs, or spoons.

Types of Fishing Lures - Jig LureType of Lure: Jigs

Jigs are a multi-part lure consisting of a lead weight sinker and a hook covered with a soft rubber or silicone material. A third component is sometimes added on that resembles a fish head with tassels or flies. With all these parts to consider, there is an endless number of jigs out there to try.

How Jigs Work: Because of the lead weight, jigs are designed to move vertically in the water, rather than horizontally like other lures on this list. The lead sinker allows your line to get to the fish at the bottom of the seabed – making them perfect for catching groundfish.

Using Scents & DyesTypes of Fishing Lures - Scent Bait

Adding scents and dyes to artificial lures is becoming more common practice. You can buy both items at the tack shop. They come in either gels, oils, or pastes, and in scents like anchovy and herring.

How Scents and Dyes Work: In the absence of live bait, scents are added to live lures to stimulate a fish’s appetite. More importantly, they mask any human smells left behind by an angler’s hardworking hands as they load up their lines.

Also available at the tack shop are dyes. Adding dyes to your live bait gives your line the aromas and flavours of the live bait, and an added boost of colour, helping fish see as well as smell your line.

Fishing with Live Bait

Live bait includes everything from insects, worms, anchovies, herring, fish row, minnows, leeches, shrimp, and more. Larger fish like lingcod and halibut also love octopus and mackerel. Live bait is most effective when it looks as life-like as possible in the water.

How Live Bait Works: Live bait puts off a scent that naturally draws fish to your line. They can be used alone or with a larger rig set-up that includes more than one artificial lure. With all your bases covered like this, you’re bound to catch something!

Read More: Lures or Live Bait? Understanding the Pros and Cons of Each

Learning your fishing lures takes some practice due to the overwhelming amount of selection and combinations out there. It might take some trial and error before you find a rig you’re successful with and comfortable using. The staff at tack shops are a good place to start for more information on fishing lures, in addition to talking to other anglers you know about what works for them, subscribing to magazines, reading blogs, and watching tips on TV.

At Van Isle Marina, we love talking about fishing, including what lures work best, and about all the fishing hotspots near here. Come see our team with all your fishing and boating related questions. We are located in Sidney, BC, near Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Find out how to get here.

And now that you know all about fishing lures, have you considered picking a new boat to fish from? Learn more about buying a boat through our brokers. We can recommend several that are perfect for your new hobby!

The History of Yachting

From Sails to Motors: The History of Yachting

How Yachting went from a Necessity to a Lifestyle

As a boating enthusiast like us here at Van Isle Marina, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about boats, looking at boats, and being on boats at every opportunity you can seize. But have you ever wondered how today’s luxury vessels came to be?

What was there before the motorboat grew to become a luxury yacht, which further grew to become a superyacht? If you’re as curious as we were about how, when, and where the yachting lifestyle evolved, read on for our brief guide to the history of yachting.

Not sure what makes a yacht a yacht in the first place? Review our Yacht Sizes, Styles, Types & Categories post as a refresher. In short, a yacht is mainly considered to be any type of sea vessel used strictly for recreational or pleasure purposes like cruising, entertaining, water sports, or fishing. There is a wide variety of sea vessels that are classified as yachts, with the term largely representing any vessel used recreationally that is large enough to have some form of sleeping quarters for overnight trips, as well as a kitchen and bathroom.

Today’s modern luxury yachts have come along way. Let’s take a look at where it all started.

Origin of Yachting

So, where did the term yachting come from? Originally called jachtschips (hunting boats), yachts were invented by the Dutch Navy in the 14th century to catch pirates and thieves quickly in shallower waters where larger ships couldn’t be sailed.

It wasn’t long until wealthy merchants and ship owners began using these smaller and speedier boats to sail out to celebrate their returning merchant ships. Sailing yachts also became popular with royalty, and it quickly became chic to use them for pleasure cruises and inevitably, for racing. English yachting is said to have officially begun when King Charles ll sailed the Mary to Britain following his return from exile in the Netherlands.

History of Yachting - the Mary

A 20 metre (66 foot) craft, the Mary inspired Charles and his brother James, the Duke of York, to construct more yachts and begin racing. They raced for sport for the first time in 1662 on the River Thames on a 100-pound wager.

Yachting Gains Traction

After a while, yachting slowly became fashionable among the wealthy, with the first social Yacht Club (the Water Club) in Cork, Ireland, being established in 1720. It was first used as a coast guard style organization. In the Water Club, races were actually chases, where the fleet of vessels “raced” to catch a nonexistent enemy—a nod to the yachts’ original crime-fighting purpose.

Meanwhile, the first yachts used in the North American colonies were typically Pilot Schooners – fast sailing vessels with tall masts and History of Yachting - Pilot Schoonerlong, slender hulls. They were capable of reaching speeds up to 20 knots, as opposed to the 5-6 knots reached by other crafts.

These Pilot Schooners were designed to guide the cargo-carrying Clippers to safe harbour, and in order for the crew to make a living guiding cargo ships to shore, they had to be the fastest.

The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) began in 1844 and the first racing schooner, the 30.78 metre America sailed across the Atlantic. She was turned down from the races in England, but joined in a race around the Isle of Wight with 14 yachts from the Royal Yacht Squadron, winning the Hundred Guinea Cup, known today as America’s Cup. Using this new design, the NYYC won the cup every year, from 1870-1983.

Yachts Get Bigger and Faster

After 1850, when steam-powered and internal combustion engines began to replace sails as the main power source, larger yachts and paddle wheel boats were developed as pleasure craft for long-distance cruising. By the second half of the 20th century, the majority of yachts relied on internal combustion engines (motor yachts), having moved away from using sails as auxiliary power.

Governance of the Yachting Industry

In 1907, yacht racing had caught on to the point where a governing body was required to create a universal set of rules and regulations for the sport since each country and region had their own set of rules—leading to much confusion. And so the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) was created in Paris. It was later renamed to the International Sailing Federation in 1996. Around this time, international racing really took off, splitting yachting into the two main factions we see today—racing and cruising.

Yachting Today

Today, the yacht has continued to develop with advances in technology and materials depending on the intended use – from long-range cruising, to fishing and watersports, to being used as a home away from home. Although wooden boat purists will still insist on a wooden hull, the vast majority of today’s hulls are created from much lighter materials like fibreglass, and designs vary according to the make and model of the vessel.

History of Yachting - todays yachts

Among other advances are the multihull design (catamaran/trimaran) and special features such as computer controlled winches on sailing yachts, an auxiliary engine to power the alternator, wind, water, and solar powered generators, GPS systems, radar, electricity, tender storage, joystick steering, and much more.

On top of these features, today’s luxury yachts have endless amounts of finishing touches that we are sure would have impressed the original yachtsmen, including leather interiors, teak decking, laundry machines, kitchen appliances, and the list goes on.

Whether you’re interested in a classic motor yacht, flybridge, a larger luxury rig, or something in between for your yachting lifestyle, come visit us at Van Isle Marina where we offer a wide range of new and used models as well as a fully secure maintenance and storage facility.

Best Diving Locations Near Vancouver Island

Best Diving Locations Near Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island – One of the Best Cold Water Diving Destinations in the World

Spend enough time above the waters around Vancouver Island and it will only be a matter of time until you get curious and want to get a closer look and what’s below the surface. When this happens, and you go for your first scuba diving experience in the Pacific Northwest, you’ll quickly come to realize the region is filled with all sorts of underwater scenery – from reefs, walls, shipwrecks, and plenty of marine life.

Here is our list of some of the best diving locations off the coast of Vancouver Island. Don’t forget your dry suits and headlamps – waters around here are cold and dark, but worth it!

Let’s dive in!

Artificial Reefs around Vancouver Island

Xihuw Boeing 737

Not actually a shipwreck, but a “plane wreck”, the intentionally stripped and sunken Xihuw Boeing 737 can be found in Stuart Channel near Chemainus on Vancouver Island’s central east coast. It’s been down there since 2006 and still very much recognizable.

G.B Church Freighter

artificial reefs around vancouver island

The G.B. Church is a 175-foot freighter that was sunk in August 1991. She can be found near Princess Margaret Marine Park/Portland Island north of Sidney on Vancouver Island. She’s actually not too far from us here at Van Isle Marina.

HMCS Saskatchewan

The HMCS Saskatchewan is a 366-foot World War ll naval vessel turned artificial reef and sunk near Nanaimo in 1997. The top of the mast is about 45 feet below the surface and the bulk of the vessel is between 80 and 100 feet.

HMCS Cape Breton

The HMCS Cape Breton is another World War II naval vessel sunk purposefully near Nanaimo. This 401-foot vessel was sunk in 2001, settling almost perfectly upright at about the same depth as the Saskatchewan. Find both of these HMCS vessels off the coast of Snake Island.

RivTow Lion

Before it was turned into an artificial reef, the Rivtow Lion was a 147-foot rescue tug built in 1940. She became an artificial reef off the coast of New Castle Island near Nanaimo in 2005. Because of the RivTow Lion’s location in sheltered calm waters and her modest size, she is considered a suitable dive site for beginners.

HMCS Chaudière

Journey out a bit farther away from Vancouver Island to the Sunshine Coast and you’ll find the HMCS Chaudière. Another artificial reef that was purposely sunk in 1992, the 366-foot Destroyer Escort lies on its side starting at about 50 feet below the surface in Kunechin Sound in the Sechelt Inlet. You’ll know you’re at the right artificial reef when you see the mounted guns with long barrels protruding from the vessel!

HMCS Annapolis

Still a bit further off Vancouver Island, located 25 minutes from Horseshoe Bay in Hacklett Bay in Howe Sound, the HMCS Annapolis was sunk in 2015. At 371 feet, this artificial reef is massive with plenty of unique explorable features, like a helicopter hanger. It’s only 25 minutes from Horseshoe Bay and worthy of the trip from Vancouver Island.

Shipwrecks around Vancouver Island

SS Capilano

Recognized as a provincial heritage site, the SS Capilano sank 100 feet deep by the Grant Reefs, between Savary and Harwood Islands in the Strait of Georgia. Built in 1891, the SS Capilano was an early coastal passenger and freight steamer before sinking in 1915. The wreck was discovered in 1973 relatively intact and remains one of the best wreck dives on the BC coast, appreciated for its historical value.

Robert Kerr

The Robert Kerr wreck is another heritage site worthy of exploration just north of Thetis Island. This converted Barque sank in 1911 after hitting a reef. It’s impressively still more or less intact and still identifiable despite being underwater for more than 105 years. This is considered a shallow dive at 60 feet.

SS Themis

If you make it up to Port Hardy on north Vancouver Island, you’ll be near the SS Themis, a 270-foot Norwegian cargo ship that sank in 1906 near Crocker Rock in Queen Charlotte Strait. There is not much left of this wreck, but a few identifiable pieces still remain, plus you’ll see some of the largest lingcod you’ve ever seen lingering about!

Shore Dives around Vancouver Island

If exploring deep depths to explore sunken ships and airplanes – intentionally or otherwise – is a little daunting for you, consider starting off with a simple shore dive. Shore dives are suitable for all levels of divers, including those just gaining an interest in the sport. Simply gear up on shore and walk right into your next scuba diving experience!

Diving at Clark Rock in Nanaimo BC

Or, for even more fun and convenience, save yourself the walk with your bulky equipment and access any of the shore dive sites by boat and drop anchor as close or far to shore as you like!

Recommended shore dives around Vancouver Island include:

  • Odgen Point Breakwater, near Victoria
  • Elliot Beach, near Chemainus
  • China Creek, near Port Alberni
  • Keel Cove, near Nanaimo

In the Nanoose Area, just north of Nanaimo, also check out any of these beautiful shore dive locations: Cottam Point, Dolphin Beach, Madrona Point, Oak Leaf Tyee Cove, The Jib, and Wall Beach.

Boat Dives around Vancouver Island

Of course, when you have a boat, nothing beats the thrill and ease of going for a cold-water dive right off the swimming platform of your boat or yacht. If you’re looking for the best boat dives around the Island – that don’t involve the narrow passages and deep, dark pockets of a sunken ship or airplane –  consider the following boat dive locations, recommended for all levels of divers.

Boat Diving around Vancouver Island

Beginner Dives

For beginner boat dives, start with:

  • Clark Rock, near Nanaimo
  • Neck Point Park, near Nanaimo
  • Yeo Islands, near Nanoose
  • Norris Rocks, near Hornby Island
  • Broughton Archipelago, in the Queen Charlotte Strait
  • Blackfish Sound, near Hansen Island and Swanson Island
  • Zeballos Inlet and Kyuquot Sound, near Nootka Island
  • Tahsis Narrows and the Gardens, near Nootka

Advanced DivesGabriola Passage Diving Around Vancouver Island

For more advanced boat dives, check out:

  • Quatsino Narrows, near Port Alice
  • Browning Pass, near Port Hardy and the SS Themis
  • Breakwater Island, near Nanaimo
  • Dodd Narrow, near Nanaimo
  • Gabriola Passage, near Nanaimo
  • Snake Wall Island, near Nanaimo and the HMCS Saskatchewan and Cape Breton
  • Alcala Point, near Ladysmith
  • Sansum Point, near Duncan
  • Octopus Point, near Duncan
  • Race Rocks, near Victoria

Always research your intended dive site before heading out, and make sure all beginners are comfortable with the depth and currents!

If you’re looking for a new boat or yacht to take your diving experiences to the next level, the team here at Van Isle Marina is happy to help. We have a wide range of pre-owned yachts and boats for sale, in addition to suitable sports models from Riviera and Pursuit that would provide plenty of space for all your diving equipment. Take a look at our current selection online, or visit us in person at 2320 Harbour Road near the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

Riviera 505 SUV at Van Isle Marina

2020 Riviera 505 SUV

The Riviera 505 SUV is set to Premiere in February 2020

Within the yachting community, Riviera is having quite a moment these days. Earlier this year, the luxury yacht builder announced dates for its upcoming 64 Sport Motor Yacht debut as well as launched its new Platinum Edition Sport Yacht line. They are also gearing up for the launch of their next luxury motor yacht – the Riviera 505 SUV, which will be making its debut at the Miami Yacht Show in February 2020.

Riviera 505 SUV - Port

The Riviera 505 SUV will be available to boaters in the Pacific Northwest starting in spring 2020 through the team here at Van Isle Marina – Western Canada’s exclusive authorized dealers of Riviera motor yachts. Our yacht brokers are ready to welcome all interested yacht enthusiasts to send us their inquiries regarding this new model. For now, we hope you enjoy a sneak peak inside this exciting addition to Riviera’s SUV Collection:

The New Riviera 505 SUV

The new Riviera 505 SUV is a three bedroom/two bathroom luxury yacht that has the same pedigree of a single-level alfresco entertainer, but with the addition of the mezzanine area that offers a relaxing space with protection from the elements when needed.

Riviera 505 SUV - master bedroom

The 505 comes in just shy of 56 feet in total length. In addition to the massive mezzanine level, the 505 comes with a generously sized cockpit, impressive saloon and galley, accessible foredeck, luxurious accommodation deck, and technologically advanced helm station. All these features are wrapped up in a package that comes complete with a brand-new hull design and luxurious, handcrafted finishing touches throughout.

Like all four Riviera SUV models that preceded her, the 505 promises exceptional power-to-weight ratios, impressive fuel efficiency, and exhilarating bluewater performance and handling capabilities.

This mid-sized sports yacht is as perfect for fishing and blue-water cruising as it is for entertaining and all the different water sports you can think of! Let’s take a closer look at her impressive layout:

Cockpit

The total cockpit surface area of the 505 is about 10 square metres, making it perfect for fishing, various water sports, and entertaining. It’s also low to the water, making it easy to launch and retrieve all of your favourite water toys. The cockpit features a large BBQ and wet bar centre, a 130-L fridge/freezer compartment, a hydraulic swimming platform, and tons of storage solutions, including a large pump-out fish bin locker in the floor.

Mezzanine

Riviera 505 SUV Mezzanine

A few steps up from the cockpit is the 505’s massive mezzanine with teak decking, an LED TV, and two fixed lounges, one of which converts to a day bed. A hardtop fully extends over the mezzanine, while twin sliding sun hatches let in filtered sunlight and a slight breeze from above. Th mezzanine on the 505 provides a covered entertainment area that is a great place to read, relax, and enjoy your morning coffee. It allows you to enjoy the yachting lifestyle on even the rainiest of days!

Galley & Saloon

The galley and saloon are connected to the mezzanine via a tinted, tempered glass door and awning window. In this area you’ll find a U-shaped galley that is fully equipped with an electric cooktop, microwave convection oven, dual drawer fridge/freezer, stainless steel sink, and optional dishwasher.

Riviera 505 SUV Saloon

 

Across from the galley on the starboard side is an L-shaped lounge and polished timber table. Just ahead is a helm station with twin pedestal seats and sliding sunroof, and a second lounge area that serves as the saloon’s main media centre is nearby.

Accommodation Deck

Take the steps down to the accommodation deck and the first things you’ll notice are the timber finishes, impressive amount of headroom, and elegant lighting throughout. You’ll be able to escape to your full-beam master suite where you will find large hull windows, a queen-sized island berth, walk-in robe, plush carpeting, 42-inch LED TV, chaise lounge, en-suite access, and a full-length mirror. Also down on the accommodation deck is a twin bunk cabin to starboard, and a plush VIP stateroom forward with en-suite access to the luxury day head. An optional laundry closet is also available.

Foredeck & Side Decks

The foredeck entertainment zone aboard the 505 is nice and large, with a walkway that runs laterally so occupants can avoid having to step over the double sun pad cushions when moving from port to starboard, cleaning the windscreen, or attaching window covers. Access to the foredeck is easy with generously wide side decks with raised bulwarks that connect all the way to the cockpit and incorporate several safety features.

Hull & Bowsprit Design

The hull of the Riviera 505 has been newly designed, with a gently sweeping sheerline, more prominent topside windows, and generous flare forward. These features balance nicely with generous glass surrounds.

The bowsprit is seamlessly incorporated into the hull design, making for a cleaner, more contemporary look. More specifically, the bowsprit has been replaced by a modern “through-the-bow” design. The effect is the anchoring station is more prominent. Ultimately, your 35kg highly polished stainless steel Ultra Anchor becomes a jewel adorning your bow.

Power

The Riviera 505 SUV comes standard with twin 6-cylinder Volvo Penta D8-IPS 800 turbo diesels at 600hp (441kw) each. You can also choose to upgrade to 725hp (533kW) via twin D11-IPS 950s, depending on your needs. With either option, the 505 comes with joystick controls at the helm and cockpit, as well as two 16-in. Volvo Penta Glass Bridge screens.

The Riviera SUV Collection

With the addition of the 505 SUV premiering in 2020, the Riviera SUV Collection is now up to five models. The new 505 SUV fits nicely in-between the SUV 575, SUV 545, SUV 445,  and SUV 395 models. But it does so much more than provide boaters a mid-sized option in this collection – the 505 is a model all on its own, from the keel up – inspired by the existing models in the Collection but so clearly defined as its own distinct model at the same time.

You can learn more about the development and design of the Riviera 505 SUV in Edition 5 of the 2019 Riviera Experience.

Additional Riviera Collections

In addition to the SUV Collection, Riviera designs and manufactures models in their Open Flybridge Collection, Enclosed Flybridge Collection, Sports Yacht Collection, and Sports Motor Yacht Collection.

No matter what Riviera Collection has caught your eye and checks your boxes, every Riviera model out there is built to last and retains its value because Riviera is so consistent with their design, quality, and customer experience.

Our yacht brokers would be pleased to match you with the best Riviera yacht to suit your needs. Learn more about Riviera yachts through our website, or contact one of our Yacht Sales Brokers, at 250.656.1138. Or come see us in person in Sidney, BC on Vancouver Island. We would love to show you our boats!

The Most Common Types of Shellfish in British Columbia Waters

Kinds of Shellfish in BC Waters

The Most Common Types of Shellfish in British Columbia Waters

With so many species of fish living in BC waters, there is something to fish for at practically anytime of year, including many types of shellfish. In our previous posts covering all the different kinds of fish in BC waters, we’ve touched on the highly sought-after pacific salmon, trout, and groundfish that draw anglers to the West Coast of Canada. To round out the series, we thought we’d end with another extremely popular type of fish our region is known for: shellfish.

What are Shellfish?

The term shellfish is a colloquial term referring to an extremely broad category of aquatic (water-dwelling) invertebrates. The term covers two main types of aquatic invertebrates: shelled molluscs like oysters and clams, and crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. Shellfish are not actually fish – they are simply a certain type of animal that live in water. The term shellfish is used by fisheries and the medical and restaurant industries to group together edible marine invertebrates.

In British Columbia, the most common types of shellfish that anglers target include oysters, clams, prawns, crabs, scallops, shrimp, krill, geoducks, and red and green sea urchins. In BC, octopus, sea cucumbers, and squid are also managed as shellfish, as per the DFO.

Notice how there are no lobsters on this list? Lobsters are plentiful in the Atlantic Ocean, but not so much here in the Pacific.

Below is our breakdown of the most common types of shellfish found in British Columbia.

Oysterstypes of shellfish in BC - oysters

Oysters are saltwater bivalve molluscs that stay rooted in place for most of their lives. There are two main types of oysters found in BC – the Olympia Oyster and the Pacific Oyster. Olympia oysters are the smaller of the two and are the only native oyster on the BC coast. It is illegal to keep Olympia oysters due to their dwindling population.

Pacific oysters are the main type of oyster cultured in southern BC waters. They are thicker and larger than Olympia oysters, with a rougher appearance. They come in a number of coloured patterns including browns, greens, and greys with purple fluting. The harvesting of oysters can be done by gathering them up from their beds, either by hand, rake, or special tongs.

Clams

types of shellfish in BC - Clams

Clams are another type of bivalve mollusc that are smaller, smoother, and shinier than oysters. Unlike oysters, clams are not rooted to one spot for the duration of their lives. Like oysters, harvesting of clams is done by hand or short / long-handled forks or rakes, depending on the species. Common clam species in BC include: razor clams, butter clams, littleneck clams, Manila clams, and varnish clams. There are also geoduck clams, a somewhat more distinctive clam species with a large visible siphon (neck) and more rectangular shell shape.

Harvesting undersized clams is prohibited, and size limits vary per type of clam. On top of that, certain areas are closed to clam harvesting, due to biotoxins present in the water. Always be sure to check the area’s closure notices before consuming clams in these areas.

Musselstypes of shellfish in BC - Mussels

Mussels are bivalve molluscs similar to clams. Blue mussels are the most commonly found mussels in BC. They have bluish-black shells and a distinctive “D” or flattened teardrop shape. Their interior is a pearly violet or white colour. Mussels in BC live on calm shores in the intertidal zone, latching onto surfaces with their strong byssal threads.

Scallopstypes of shellfish in BC - Scallops

Scallops are yet another common type of marine bivalve mollusc that can be found in BC, particularly the Pink scallop and the Spiny scallop. Spiny scallops are reddish-brown and Pink scallops are pinkish-white. Other types of scallops are farmed throughout the BC coast due to their popularity with seafood lovers. When you think of a seashell – the first image that comes to mind is likely that of the fan-shaped scallop shell.

Crabstypes of shellfish in BC - dungeness crab

Crabs are crustaceans that live pretty much in every ocean around the world. In BC, the Dungeness crab is the most important species of crab sought after by commercial fishermen. They have oval bodies that range from yellow-brown to purplish in colour, four pairs of walking legs, and claws with light-coloured tips. Redrock crabs can also be found in BC. These are the crabs that have the brick red backs, white bellies, and Black-tipped claws.

Because crabs are targeted by so many groups, their harvesting is monitored and regulated heavily throughout the Pacific Ocean.

Shrimptypes of shellfish in BC - Shrimp

Shrimp are small, aquatic, decapod crustaceans, meaning they have exoskeletons and 10 legs. There are seven species of shrimp that commercial fishermen trawl for in BC, including Coonstripe or Dock shrimp, humpback or king shrimp, smooth pink or ocean pink shrimp, spiny pink shrimp, spot shrimp, sidestride or giant shrimp.

Prawnstypes of shellfish in BC - Prawns

Prawns are the largest of the seven commercial species of shrimp in British Columbian waters, with some distinctive differences that set them apart from other shrimp. They are slightly larger than other shrimp and have three sets of claws as legs instead of two. In the kitchen, prawns and shrimp are prepared in similar ways and have similar textures and tastes.

Prawns have smooth glossy bodies and vary in colour from a dark red to an orange-red or pink with several white lines running horizontally across their head.

Abalonetypes of shellfish in BC - Abalone

Abalone are marine gastropod molluscs, a.k.a. sea snails, that come in a range of sizes. They have oval shells with irregular reddish or greenish upper surfaces. Their shells are sometimes marked with blue or white, while the iridescent white shell interior has a faint pink and green sheen. Abalone, once poached for their decorative shells and their meat, were considered to be a delicacy.

Due to overharvesting, harvesting abalone from the ocean is illegal. In BC, it’s the only species of shellfish that is completely banned from harvesting.

types of shellfish in BC - Sea Urchin

Sea Urchins

Sea urchins are not molluscs and they are not crustaceans, yet they fall under the shellfish category. They are managed as shellfish by the DFO, and people who suffer from shellfish allergies must also avoid sea urchins.

Sea urchins are spherical and are covered with hundreds of spikey, moveable spines that look like brush bristles. They grip the seabed with their five tube-like feet. There are hundred of species of urchins in oceans around the world, with the red sea urchins (with longer spines) and green sea urchins (with shorter spines) most common and sought after in BC due to their large lobes. Sea urchins are mainly harvested for their roe (a.k.a. gonads or uni), which has a buttery texture and distinct ocean flavour.

Krilltypes of shellfish in BC - Krill

Krill are tiny crustaceans found in oceans everywhere. Considered zooplankton, krill are an extremely important part of the food chain – they are what feed and nourish countless species of fish and marine mammals. Krill are harvested commercially mainly for fish food to be used in aquariums or in aquaculture and much less than the others for human food.

Sea Cucumberstypes of shellfish in BC - Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumbers are long and cylindrical, hence the name, with tube-like feet that allow them to walk on the ocean floor and tentacles that help them feed. There are about 30 species of sea cucumbers in BC, with the biggest being the giant red sea cucumber at about 2-feet long and weighing up to 1 kg.

Sea cucumbers consist of a firm outer skin and a thick inner muscle with five tendons. The tendons are considered the sea cucumber meat (edible, quite tasty, and used in a variety of dishes). Sea cucumbers are also harvested for their skin, which has health benefits as well as nutritional value.

Learn More

Unlike the salmon, trout, and groundfish of the region, shellfish come with strict warnings around their harvesting and consumption. Some shellfish, especially raw bivalve shellfish that are considered “filter feeders” can carry bacteria, viruses and toxins that can cause foodborne illness. Some shellfish are also often consumed raw, thereby increasing the risk factor. It’s always very important to harvest, store, handle, and prepare shellfish appropriately to avoid getting sick or worse.

For more information on shellfish harvesting, review the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Guides on:

The DFO’s shellfish harvesting guide covers things like identification charts, fishing gear recommendations, general tips, and packaging and storage information.  Always check for marine biotoxin and sanitary contamination closures in the area where you are intending on harvesting.

Looking for a new vessel for catching shellfish? Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC has a wide range of new and pre-owned  boats for sale, including fishing boats, motorboats, and yachts. Take a look at our current selection online or visit us in person. We are located at 2320 Harbour Road near the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.