Learn more about our news and special events, both here at the marina or out and about on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

B.C.'s Top 10 freshwater fishing spots

B.C.’s Top 10 Freshwater Fishing Spots

The Best Fishing Lakes and Rivers in British Columbia

With over 20,000 lakes and 750,000km of waterways, British Columbia is a freshwater fishing paradise and a dream for anglers.  Freshwater fishing offers a completely different experience to ocean fishing, and the opportunity to catch a variety of species of fish, some of which are unique to the area.

Anglers Spoiled for Choice in B.C.’s Species Rich Fresh Waters

There is an abundance of fish species to be found in British Columbia’s lakes and rivers including:

Anglers spoiled for choice - trout

  • Rainbow Trout
  • Bull Trout 
  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee
  • Steelhead Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Dolly Warden
  • Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass
  • Arctic Grayling
  • Sturgeon

A great catch is almost guaranteed thanks to an annual program funded by the freshwater licence fee that stocks trout in over 800 lakes across the province.

Top 10 Spots for Freshwater Fishing in B.C.

There are so many amazing lakes, streams and rivers in British Columbia but our list includes those which a fishing fanatic should not miss. They are all accessible by boat, although most of these can be fished from shore too.

Elk and Beaver Lakes: Located in the Saanich area of Vancouver Island these lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout and small and largemouth Bass. The lakes are connected via a shallow channel and are very popular for day use by families. Motorboat speed and power limitations are in effect in some areas.

Quesnel Lake: With a depth of 2,000ft, this Cariboo area lake is believed to be the deepest fjord lake in the world. Access this pristine wilderness fishing spot via boat launches and recreation sites on the western shore. This lake breeds large fish with Lake Trout up to 20kg as well as Rainbow and Bull Trout and Kokanee to be found.

Top 10 spots for freshwater fishing

Sheridan Lake: Despite its secluded location near 100 Mile House; this lake is considered to be one of the best trout fishing lakes in the province. Rainbow Trout can grow up to 16kg thanks to a diet rich in freshwater shrimp which is abundant in the lake. There are a number of boat launches and resorts for anglers to choose from. 

Shushwap Lake: Known for its beautiful beaches; this lake, which has four ‘arms’ is rumoured to contain up to 19 species of fish. Chinook, Coho and Sockeye Salmon are certain to be found in the aptly named Salmon Arm, but angler’s in the know go for the Bull and Rainbow Trout which can weigh in at 10kg.

Williston Lake: At over 1,700sq km, this lake is actually the largest reservoir in BC, formed when the W.A.C Bennett Dam was constructed in 1968. A popular lake with many beaches and provincial parks on its shore; Williston is considered to be one of the best fishing lakes in the province with Arctic G

rayling, Rainbow and Bull Trout, Kokanee and Whitefish all reaching good sizes here.

Anderson Lake: Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout and Sockeye can all be found in this spectacular lake located north of Pemberton. At 21 miles long and nearly 1,000ft in depth the lake can get quite rough in windy weather so smaller boats should stay closer to shore.

Chilko Lake: This glacier-fed lake is the largest high elevation freshwater lake in Canada. Its turquoise waters and surrounding volcanic mountains make for a picturesque backdrop to a day of fishing for Rainbow and Bull Trout. A classified waters licence is required to fish here.

Top 10 spots for lake and river fishing in BC

Skeena River: Excellent salmon fishing can be found year-round on this river which runs between Terrace and Prince Rupert. Accessible boat put-ins can be found along highway 16. Bring your fly fishing gear for a successful trip.

Fraser River: B.C.’s largest river system, found east of Vancouver, is best known for its Sturgeon fishing opportunities. You’ll need some strong gear and arms if you catch one of these ancient fish which can grow to 12ft long. 

Cowichan River: Located in the centre of Vancouver Island; anglers find most success in the shoulder seasons when the river is cooler. It is considered the finest trout stream in the province thanks to its abundance of insects which keep the unique Brown Trout species plentiful in its waters.

Successful Freshwater Fishing – What to Know Before You Go

  • Get a freshwater fishing licence – All anglers aged 16 and over require a specific freshwater licence to fish the lakes and rivers of B.C. This can be purchased online or at a licenced vendor. Be aware that some locations or species require an additional conservation fee.
  • Familiarize yourself with freshwater fishing regulations –  these include areas with catch and release only fishing, catch limits and region-specific rules.
  • Bring the right gear – Freshwater fishing needs different equipment to ocean fishing. Your local fishing store can help you with supplies such as:
    • Fly fishing rods and lures
    • Species-specific bait
    • Strong hooks and lines for large lake fish
    • A depth finder
  • Remember to wash your hands!  – Freshwater fish are sensitive to odors and may be scared away by smells they don’t recognize.

Van Isle Marina can help you find your dream fishing boat

Van Isle Marina Can Help You Find Your Dream Fishing Boat 

Keen to try some freshwater fishing but need to upgrade your boat? Van Isle Marina’s experienced sales team can advise you on all the options and additions available, contact us today to find out more.

Got a fishing boat you need to store? We offer docking and dry storage facilities in addition to our 500 open and covered marina berths at our state-of-the-art marina.

Located in Sidney, B.C., Van Isle Marina is a convenient starting point to access the amazing freshwater fishing that Vancouver Island offers, or take the nearby ferry to the mainland to explore all the freshwater fishing locations on our list.

Choosing the Right Boat

Choosing the Right Boat

What to Consider When Buying a Boat


Owning a boat opens up a whole new world of on-water adventure for you and your family. Buying a boat is a major decision but one you won’t regret if you choose the right one.

Whether you are looking to buy for the first time or upgrade your current model, there are a number of considerations that you can use to help you find the perfect boat.

5 Key Things to Consider When Buying a Boat

  1. What type of boat meets my needs?What type of boat fits my needs

There are so many different types of boats to choose from that it can be hard to know where to start. Thinking about what you want to do in your boat and who you’re going to be doing it with is a great starting point.

What activities do I want to do? Are you looking for a boat to take deep-sea fishing? Do you want to cruise the coastline for a multi-day sightseeing trip or is your aim to have fun in the lake pulling wakeboarders and skiers? Each activity requires a different type of vessel, engine and equipment.

What size is right? A bigger boat is likely to have more features and facilities, but it will cost more to buy, run and store. If you are a first-time buyer, test drive a few different sized boats to see which you are most comfortable operating. 

Which engine type and horsepower option is right? There are a number of different engine types available including:

  • Outboard Motors
  • Gas Sterndrives
  • Diesel inboards
  • Water jet propulsion

The type you choose will influence how the vessel drives, steering and stability, noise and pollution, storage, wear and tear and more. Consider an engine with a horsepower capacity close to the maximum for the boat to ensure it is able to perform in all conditions.

Where will I use and store the boat? Are you planning to be out in the deep ocean where you are at the mercy of incoming weather systems? Then consider a cab where you can get some protection. If you want to store your boat at home, you will need to choose a style and size that can be trailered.

  1. Should I buy a new or used boat?Should I buy new or used

The decision to buy new or used will depend on your budget, taste and whether you are willing to make cosmetic and mechanical upgrades if necessary. 

Benefits of a new boat include:

  • Getting exactly what you want
  • Benefiting from the latest technologies
  • A warranty to cover any issues

Benefits of a used boat include:

  • Getting more boat for your money compared to new
  • The ability to research the make, model and get real reviews before deciding
  • With a marine survey you can find out the condition and history of the vessel

This used boat buying checklist is a helpful starting point if you choose to buy second-hand.

  1. Where should I buy my boat from?Where Should I buy my boat from

When looking for a new boat, you have a number of options of where to shop.

  • Boat Shows – If you are able to attend a boat show, you have the benefit of being able to see the models in person and there are usually special deals if you buy at the event. The downside is that you usually have to make a quick decision to get the bargain.
  • Dealers – Benefit from the knowledge and expertise of a dealer who can advise which models and features will best suit your needs. Dealers are able to assist with warranty coverage and services too.
  • Private sales – This is an option for more experienced boaters with the confidence to inspect and identify any issues with a vessel as private sales cannot be returned and have no warranty.

Always go out on a test drive if you can. Use the opportunity to check the boat’s facilities, equipment and handling.

  1. What is my budget?What is my budget for a boat

Your budget for your boat purchase will undoubtedly have an impact on which vessel you end up buying. Additional and ongoing costs which you should be aware of before buying include:

  • Insurance – theft, damage and loss insurance 
  • Registration fees – if required for your vessel
  • Storage – purchase of a trailer or annual moorage / dry-storage fees. View Van Isle Marina’s storage fees here for an idea of the monthly or annual cost
  • Equipment and accessories – Personal safety gear, upgraded GPS, sports fishing gear – the required and desired extras can add up
  • Maintenance and repair – likely to be higher if you have a second hand boat with no warranty
  • Fuel / operating costs – fuel is likely to be your biggest ongoing cost depending on how far and how often you go out and how fuel efficient your engine is.

View Van Isle Marina’s 10 costs you must know before buying a boat guide for more information.

  1. What are the requirements of boat ownership and operation?What are the requirements of boat ownership

If you are buying a boat for the first time, make sure you educate yourself regarding the documents the federal government of Canada requires for boat ownership and operation. These include:

  • Pleasure Craft Licence – serves as ID for the vessel
  • Pleasure Craft Operators Card – an accredited online course and test is available 

Make sure you read and understand the Safe Boating Guide for information on operating vessels in Canadian waters, boating safety requirements and trip planning.

Buy Your Next Boat with the Support of Van Isle Marina’s Dealership Experts

Van Isle Marina’s highly experienced yacht sales team are keen to match buyers to the boat that is right for them.

As exclusive dealers for Pursuit Boats, buyers can discuss the many models with our sales team. We also act as broker for private sales, providing more options for our buyers.

Contact us today to set up a meeting with our sales team and start the search for your perfect boat.

Once you’ve found the yacht of your dreams, check out our moorage and storage options and all the other amazing facilities our state of the art marina offers.

boat emergency kit checklist

Emergency Boating Kit Checklist

What Emergency and Safety Equipment Do You Need on Your Yacht?


An emergency boating kit should be on board with you at all times. All boaters know that nothing can be more relaxing than a day on the water, whether it’s an early morning fishing trip, an afternoon of sightseeing or a multi-day trip. After all, there’s nothing like the feel of the sea air on your face as you enjoy leisure time on your yacht or sailing boat.

However, experienced boaters also know that things can go wrong quickly; so it’s important to be prepared with the boat safety equipment and tools you might need in an unexpected incident.

Having a comprehensive boating emergency kit onboard your vessel will provide reassurance and practical assistance should anything unexpected happen such as:

  • Someone falling overboardBoating Equipment Kit Checklist cover image
  • A sick or injured passenger
  • A collision with another boat or stationery item like a rock
  • Your boat suffers a mechanical failure

What Do I Need in My Boat Emergency Kit?

There are some essential items that all marine emergency kits should contain. Transport Canada does require all boats to carry certain safety and emergency equipment which depends on the size of the vessel.

What do I need in my Emergency Boating Kit

This includes:

  • Lifesaving appliances such as PFDs and flotation devices
  • Visual signals
  • Navigation equipment
  • Firefighting equipment

Find out what your specific vessel is required to carry by checking out the safe boating guide on the Transport Canada website.

What Do the Best Boating Emergency Kits Include?

Boating First Aid Kit Contents

When putting together your boating emergency kit, consider what you will need in each of the following categories:

  • Survival gear
  • Signaling equipment
  • Navigation tools
  • Safety gear
  • First Aid kit

Survival Gear: This is the equipment that will help you to survive should you or a passenger end up in the water and includes:

Flotation Devices: Life-jackets save lives in Canadian waters every year. Make sure you have enough lifejackets or PFDs for each person on board.  It is important that these fit well and meet Canadian standards.Check out this guide to choosing a lifejacket for more information.

Throwable Flotation Devices: All vessels over 9m long need to carry a lifebuoy attached to a buoyant line and a separate buoyant heaving line. You may also wish to include some throw cushions for extra options.

Signaling Tools

If you have an emergency on your personal watercraft you may need to get the attention of the coast guard or another vessel to help you. The best way to do this is to be highly visible and make a lot of noise:

Signaling Tools for boaters in distress

Visual Distress Signals: Make sure your boat meets the requirements for day and night lights to ensure you are as visible as possible. Also carry at least one waterproof flashlight and flares, including light and smoke flares, as well as bright flags.

Sound Distress Signals: Make sure your horn and bell on your vessel are working and you know the international emergency sound signals. Also consider carrying an air horn and whistles for additional attention especially if you have to abandon ship and enter the water.

VHF Radio: Have a fitted or handheld VHF radio onboard which enables you to contact other nearby vessels and the coast guard. Learn and write down the emergency broadcast frequency in case you need it.

Navigation Tools

Knowing where you are and what is around you is important if you are in an emergency situation. 

Manual Navigation: Always carry a magnetic compass, charts and ruler so you can manually chart and track your location.

Electronic Navigation: Many boats have built-in GPS trackers which are useful for establishing your location. Radar systems will also help you to identify what is around you and whether another vessel is in your area. Both are available in portable versions if you do not have them built into your boat.

Emergency Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) which send out GPS distress signals when activated, can be a good way to keep track of someone who goes overboard.

Safety Gear

For general onboard safety, you should also include some of the following equipment in your boating emergency kit:

  • Fire extinguishers
  • Additional food and water
  • Manual bilge pump or bailing device
  • Small tool kit
  • Weather gear including raincoats or ponchos, a warm jacket, sunscreen and sun hat
  • Dry change of clothes
  • Waterproof matches
  • Knife sharp enough to cut rope
  • Batteries
  • Portable fuel tanks

First Aid Kit

Health emergencies can happen onboard a boat, some – such as nausea – are less serious but can ruin the enjoyment of the trip. Other health emergencies can be more serious.

Carrying a comprehensive first aid kit on board means you have the ability to help whatever the circumstances. Boat owners may wish to consider taking a first aid course through Canadian Red Cross or another recognized organization.

A good first aid kit should include:

  • Gauze, bandages and waterproof band-aidsFirst Aid kit for boats
  • Adhesive tape
  • Gloves
  • Scissors
  • Antiseptic
  • Pain relievers
  • Tweezers
  • Anti-histamines
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Spare prescription medications
  • Emergency blankets

Where Should I Store My Marine Emergency Kit?

The majority of your emergency kit can be stored together in a large waterproof container. Make sure the container is in an easily accessible position, not in the back of a storage hold or underneath other boxes, as you might need to get at it in a hurry.

Check your emergency kit and equipment each time you sail. Replace anything that is running low or past its use-by date.

Van Isle Marina – A Safe and Secure Place to Anchor Up 

Van Isle Marina, located in Sidney, BC, is one of the province’s largest full-service marinas. Our location makes us a great starting and finishing point for short or longer boating adventures. We offer short-stay, monthly and annual moorage options and offer first-class amenities including a marine fuel dock, boat haul-out and even a restaurant. 

You can store your emergency kit equipment and other personal items you don’t want to leave on your yacht in our secure, heated storage lockers. Visit us today in Tsehum Harbour or contact us to find out more about our marina and moorage options.


Safe Boating in Poor Visibility

Safe Boating in Poor Visibility

How to Navigate and Stay Safe on the Water when Visibility is Restricted

Boating requires all your senses to ensure you stay safe. If you have restricted visibility due to poor light or bad weather conditions, knowing what steps to take to keep you, your boat and other boaters safe is very important.

The weather off the coast of Vancouver Island can change quickly, and on the west coast in particular, sudden fog is not unusual. 

Would you know what to do if you found yourself in thick fog? Or if you needed to sail in the dark?

Reduced Visibility and Why it’s a ProblemReduced Visibility when Boating

Restricted, or reduced, visibility is something that prevents you from seeing other boats and being seen by other boaters and is usually caused by:

  • Reduced light – i.e. sailing at night
  • Bad weather – i.e. mist, fog, rain, snow

Boating in reduced visibility brings an increased risk of collision – with another vessel or a fixed object or the shoreline.

Visibility levels are classified as follows:

  • Very poor visibility – Less than 0.45 nautical miles
  • Poor visibility – Between 0.5 and 2 nautical miles
  • Moderate visibility – Between 2 and 5 nautical miles
  • Good visibility –  Over 5 nautical miles

What Should You Do When Operating a Boat in Reduced Visibility?

If you find yourself in conditions of poor visibility when boating, there are some important steps you should take right away to ensure you can remain safe and in control:

  1. Slow Down – Go slow enough to be able to stop in half the distance you can clearly see. It’s better to keep moving than to stop; however, if you feel unsure, anchor up until the bad weather has passed.
  2. Turn on all your running lights – The lights you must display differ according to the craft you are operating. Make sure you know what applies for your boat.
  3. Locate your equipment – Know where your noise-making and other emergency equipment (such as flares and lifejackets) are kept.
  4. Allocate a look-out –Ask someone to look and listen out for other vessels around you.Chart and track your current location
  5. Chart and track your current location – It’s easy to drift off your path in poor visibility, so keeping track of your position is important. GPS navigation can be used for this, but boaters should also know how to chart with a map and compass and ideally use both methods when in poor visibility.

Understanding the basics of marine navigation, and what the tools in your yacht can do, are important when you are in poor visibility conditions.

Using Navigation Lights at Night

Turn on running lights in reduced visibility

Using, understanding and interpreting navigation lights are vital when you are sailing in the dark.

Recreational vehicles must display red and green sidelights,a stern light, and a masthead light. 

Using the sidelights to determine which direction a nearby boat is moving, use the same right-of-way rules as you would in daylight.

Navigating in Foggy Conditions – What You Need to Know 

Foggy conditions in particular mean that the usual visual clues to what is around you are gone. You may not see the lights of another boat until you are very close to them. It is important you know how to make others aware of your vessel and you know how to work out what is around you.

Navigating in Foggy Conditions

Let other boaters know you are there. Use your horn and bell to make the internationally recognized marine sound signals to let others know that you are moving, stationary or grounded. In return you should listen for sounds coming from other boats.

Radar is very helpful in limited visibility as it locates both moving and static objects in the water around you such as other vessels, buoys and rocks. To maximize the benefit of your radar in poor visibility do the following:

  • Set your electronic bearing line on a vessel that is heading towards you. If it continues to travel along the line they are on a collision course with you and you need to take action.
  • Set your guard zone out 1-2 miles and at 360 degrees to provide maximum warning of possible dangers.

Prepare For Poor Visibility Before You Sail

Complete a pre-sail check

Educate yourself – Everyone who operates a recreational boat in Canada must hold a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, which is obtained after completing an accredited safe boaters course. It’s a good idea to regularly review the content of this course to ensure you remain familiar with the rules and regulations.

Get to know your boat – Learn stopping distances at different speeds, know where your sound signals and light controls are located and how to operate them. Know how to tune your radio to the emergency channel. 

Complete a pre-sail check – Inspect your safety equipment every time you go out. Check the lights and horn and make sure you have everything you need on board. 

Check the weather forecast – Weather can change very fast on the ocean. Transport Canada publishes up-to-date marine weather reports for the whole of Canada.

Carry an emergency kit – make sure you have emergency equipment such as whistles, flares, flashlights, life jackets and a first aid kit on board.

Navigate With Confidence on a Yacht from Van Isle Marina.

Does your boat have the up to date navigation equipment that can help you deal with poor visibility? Van Isle Marina, in Sidney BC, is the exclusive dealer for Pursuit boats, which contain the latest state-of-the-art equipment.

The Pursuit OS 385 Offshore provides optional navigational tools including:

  • Garmin GPSMAP – A 9-inch touchscreen advanced navigation solution
  • Garmin Radar Open Array – A high definition radar perfect for limited visibility conditions
  • Garmin rear-facing camera – Useful if you are sailing alone
  • FLIR night vision with image stabilization
  • SiriusFM weather receiver (with subscription)

To find out more about this meticulously designed luxury yacht and the other boats we currently have available, contact the Van Isle Marina sales team and arrange a viewing today.

a guide to green boating in bc

A Guide to Green Boating

How to be an Environmentally Friendly Boater

For boating enthusiasts, simply being on the water brings us joy. However, with that pleasure comes the responsibility to protect the marine environment and preserve it for generations to come. 

The good news is, adopting green boating habits isn’t difficult. Just like the simple steps you’ve taken to be more environmentally friendly on land, green boating can be achieved by making a few changes to your usual routine.

Does Sailing Cause Pollution?

It’s important to recognize that what we do in and with our boats has an impact on aquatic environments. 

Over 700,000 boats sail in the British Columbia waters each year and each of them has the potential to cause environmental damage through:

  • Sewage and grey water dumping: which can pollute our food sourcesgreen boating in bc
  • Fuel and oil spillages: half a litre of oil can produce a slick one acre in size
  • Garbage pollution: plastic and other garbage is often dumped overboard
  • Gas emissions from engines: older vessels can discharge up to 25% of their fuel directly into the water
  • Chemical pollution from cleaning products and paint: cause harmful algae blooms and poison sea-life

The good news is, there’s lots you can do to be a greener boater – and if everyone takes a few small steps it will make a big difference to the health of our marine environment.

How to be a Green Boater

Protecting the marine environment and practicing sustainable boating does require some effort. Use the green boating tips below to get started:

1. Prevent Oil Spills

  • Practice Safe Fuelling – fuelling spillages cause much of the oil pollution in our waters. To prevent drips, use an absorbent bib or collar. Fill your tank slowly to a maximum 90 percent full to allow for expansion. Regularly check your tank and lines for damage.
  • Keep your bilge clean – spilled oil, fuel and other toxic liquids build up in your vessel’s bilge area and can spill into the ocean. Use absorbent pads and pump-out into a designated bilge pumping tank when required. 

If you have an oil or fuel spill, notify the marina or the coast guard immediately, no matter how small it seems.

2. Stop Pollution

  • Dispose of sewage and untreated water safely– black and gray water contains pollutants and soap residues which can impact water quality, poison marine life and encourage algae growth. In Canada, it is illegal to dump sewage within 3 nautical miles from shore.
  • Bring your general waste back – Over 17 billion lbs of plastic enters our oceans each year. Do your part in reducing plastic pollution by bringing all of your garbage back to the dock. 

Use designated sewage pump stations, garbage and recycling facilities at your marina to dispose of waste products. The Georgia Straight Alliance’s Green Boating Guide contains a list of marinas with designated sewerage pumping facilities around Vancouver Island and the southern BC coastlines – including Van Isle Marina in Sidney.

  • Use Non-Toxic cleaning products – phosphorus and nitrogen in some cleaning products may dissolve grime, but they damage the marine ecosystem. Clean your yacht regularly with fresh water to prevent dirt build-up; research eco-friendly cleaning products (or make your own) and follow the dilution instructions.
  • Choose non-toxic Bottom Paint – copper in bottom paint leaches toxins into water as it dissolves. Aluminum-based paint is one more eco-friendly option.

3. Reduce your environmental impact

  • Reduce fuel use – reduce your speed, don’t idle and consider upgrading your engine. You’ll use
    less fuel which reduces pollution and saves money too.
  • Have a regular maintenance routine – tuning up your engine will increase efficiency and catch issues before they can cause environmental damage. Remember to do maintenance on dry land to prevent leakage into water.
  • Upgrade your engine for lower emissions – traditional 2-stroke engines lose up to 25% of unburned fuel directly into the water. Change to a Direct Fuel Injection, a 4-stroke or an electric engine to reduce fuel loss, reduce pollution and save in gas costs.

4. Make the switch to renewable energy

Boating enthusiasts and manufacturers are at the forefront of finding ways that renewable energy technologies can reduce the environmental impact of boating. 

Instead of idling your engine to charge electrical items on board, consider generating your own electricity by installing renewable energy technology such as: 

  • stand-alone solar panel
  • wind generator 
  • water generator 

Check out Sailors for the Sea’s Green Boating guide for more comprehensive advice on environmentally friendly sailing.

The Future of Green Boating

Imagine taking a ride on a boat which is almost silent, doesn’t vibrate with engine rumbles and produces no emissions. These things are possible thanks to rapidly developing electrical engine technology including:

  • Electric outboard motors – these motors are charged via electrical hookup in dock and can provide the speeds and longevity most boaters require.
  • Hybrid Vessels – these vessels combine a traditional combustion engine with an electrical engine, providing the ability to reduce environmental impact while retaining the reassurance of a traditional engine if needed. High performing boats are increasingly being powered this way including superyachts.
  • Solar powered boats – solar panels are used by many boaters to power onboard equipment, but new technological advances mean boat builders are now able to design vessels entirely powered by the sun!

Van Isle Marina Supports Environmentally Friendly Boating

Recognizing that what we do in our boats can impact the waters we love sailing on, Van Isle Marina is proud to offer services to support environmentally friendly boating. Located in Sidney, BC, the marina has a full service haul-out facility to enable out-of-water cleaning and maintenance. Power washing and bottom painting facilities and services are offered, along with ground sheets to prevent waste leakage.

Our state of the art fuel dock includes a holding tank pump-out to prevent oil spillage and we offer a sewage pump as well as complete garbage and recycling facilities on site. Considering an upgrade to a more environmentally friendly yacht? Contact our sales team today.

boating equipment checklist

Boating Equipment Checklist

Use this Basic Boating Equipment Checklist to Ensure You Have Everything You’ll Need for Your Next Trip


There’s nothing like getting out on the water on a sunny summer day, or really, any day! Whether you’re going to a nearby cove for a day of fishing, or further out to explore the open waters, always take the time to make sure your boat is properly equipped. In addition to our full boat maintenance checklist, this boating equipment checklist gets back to the basics. It will help you make sure you have everything you could need in the event of a generator outage, electronics failure, a leak, if someone is injured or if you just need to complete a quick fix. Boating Equipment Checklist cover image

Most of the time, everything goes off without a hitch and you and your guests have an amazing boating trip. Just in case, take the time to review this list. It’s also a good idea to keep a printed copy of it in your fireproof box with other documents like your boat registration.


To keep your paper documents completely secure, we recommend stowing them in a dry box in an easy-to-reach area on board.

  • Registration on board
  • Validation decal on display
  • Registration numbers
  • Boating safety certificate
  • Fishing licenses
  • Manual charts
  • Float plan for your route and intended destination (make sure a relative or friend has a copy)

First Aid and Safety Equipmentboating emergency kit PFD

Be prepared for anything with plenty of PFDs and a fully stocked first aid kit large enough for the number of people on board.

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) – one per person
  • Throwable PFD
  • Lifebuoy
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Flame arrestor
  • Horn, whistle, bell or other noise making device
  • First aid kit
  • Flares or other visual distress signal 

Anchor and Mooring Equipment

Always be ready to anchor and keep plenty of extra line on hand.

  • Extra anchor
  • Extra line
  • Extra heaving line
  • Oars
  • Ladder for boarding and disembarking
  • Tender- Check to make sure it’s in good shape

Navigationboating emergency kit navigation equipment

Newer boats are fully loaded with top-of-the line nav equipment, but it’s always a good idea to have manual equipment on hand. 

  • Navigation lights
  • VHF radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Wind up flashlights
  • Compass
  • EPIRB- Emergency Positioning Radio Beacon

Sun and Weather Protection 

Out on the water, you’re even more exposed to the elements. Be ready for any weather by ensuring you have sun, wind and rain protection.

  • Sunscreen
  • Close-toed shoes
  • Hatboating emergency kit bilge pump
  • Rain jacket
  • Change of clothing / towels
  • Fresh water 

Extras to Keep on Boardboating emergency kit jerry can

Don’t be left stranded and frustrated. Make sure you have extra fuel and oil on board, in case the fueling station is temporarily closed.

  • Manual bailer for the bilge
  • Extra fuel. Remember the one-third rule (one-third fuel for trip out, one-third fuel for trip back and one-third fuel for reserve.) 
  • Extra oil 
  • Toolbox and tools for quick fixes
  • Spare parts 

Click here to download our Boating Equipment checklist as a PDF

Is this the year you’re making the leap to boating? Looking for that perfect used boat? Come and talk to us at Van Isle Marina. We have a wide selection of gorgeous new and pre-loved yachts and cruisers to choose from, including the world-class Pursuit line of boatsBrowse our new and used listings, then contact our expert yacht broker to find the boat you’ve always dreamed of.

Canada & United States Border Opens

August 9th, 2021

Welcome back neighbors, friends, family, & boaters! We are excited to announce the border will reopen to U.S. citizens & U.S. residents on August 9th.

Starting August 9th  — fully vaccinated U.S. citizens & permanent residents living in the U.S. will be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine for two weeks.

Canadian officials also announced today that as of Aug. 9,  children under 12 will be exempt from the quarantine requirement after entering Canada if they follow public health measures.

U.S. travelers entering Canada will require a pre-entry negative Covid-19 test result and will need to present proof of one of the vaccines authorized for use in Canada. That means two doses of either the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca products, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least 14 days before arriving.

All U.S. travelers must use the government’s ArriveCAN portal to submit their information. If they meet the government’s criteria, they will not have to quarantine upon arrival in Canada.

We look forward to welcoming you and accommodating your late-summer boating adventures. Please contact our marina office if you have any questions or wish to request marina reservations.

On behalf of all the Crew at Van Isle Marina, welcome back and we look forward to seeing you on the docks.



Delicious Pacific Oyster Recipes For You to Try

Pacific Oysters: A Vancouver Island Delicacy

Delicious Pacific Oyster Recipes For You to Try

Pacific oysters are abundant around the coastline of Vancouver Island, which is great news for those who enjoy harvesting and eating them. Shellfish lovers on Vancouver Island are lucky to have easy access to a variety of shellfish, including the Pacific oyster, which is recognizable by its large, rough and pale greyish-white shell.

First imported into British Columbia in the early 1900’s to be grown in aquaculture farms, pacific oysters began growing in the wild soon after. The oysters grow well on rocks in estuaries and intertidal areas. Because oyster beds grow well in shallow areas, they’re easy for recreational harvesters to find.

Pacific Oysters are a Healthy and Tasty Choice

Pacific oysters

Pacific oysters remain hugely popular locally and across Canada thanks to their fresh flavour, which can range from sweet and lightly briny to watermelon or cucumber flavoured. The umami (a.k.a. savouriness) and flavour they take on depends on where they grow. Pacific oysters are a very healthy choice, packing tons of vitamins and minerals in each bite.
Among the nutritional benefits of oysters are:

  • Low in fat and calories
  • Low in cholesterol
  • High in protein and iron
  • High in omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, zinc and vitamin C
  • High in vitamin B12

Harvesting Pacific Oysters in BC

Although finding pacific oysters is relatively easy, there are some rules and safety precautions to consider before you start harvesting. The BC Centre for Disease Control guide to safe shellfish harvesting is a great starting point for useful information.

Red Tide and Biotoxin Risk from Oysters

Oysters are a bivalve mollusc, meaning that they eat by filtering microscopic plankton out of the water. During this process marine biotoxins, bacteria and viruses can build up inside the tissue of the oyster, which can cause severe illness in humans if eaten.

Red Tide, which is named because the excess of algae can make the water look red. It’s a harmful algae that can contaminate shellfish and is associated with Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), a potentially fatal disease in humans. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada monitors biotoxin levels in the waters around Vancouver Island and issues closures in areas that exceed safe limits. Check the shellfish harvesting status map before travelling to harvest oysters, and look out for signage placed at any closed location. The shellfish harvesting map also indicates areas that are aquaculture farms or aboriginal land which cannot be used by recreational harvesters. 

Other Useful Tips for Oyster Harvesting:

Before you head out to harvest your oysters, also consider the following:

  • In BC you need a tidal waters fishing license before you can harvest any oysters or other shellfish for food. There are daily limits on the number of oysters you can take
  • Be prepared to transport and store your catch properly until you are ready to eat them 
  • Make sure the oyster is fresh before you eat it. The oyster shell should close if lightly tapped and it should smell fresh, not sulphuric

Enjoy These Delectable Pacific Oyster Recipes

Now you have your fresh, healthy oyster harvest, you’ll need to shuck them to get at the nutrient-rich meat inside the hard shell. If you don’t know how to shuck an oyster, grab an oyster knife and check out this simple step by step guide. Once your oysters are ready, you can enjoy them raw or in these delicious pacific oyster recipes:

Try a variety of toppings for raw oysters

Pacific oysters on the half shell

Oysters are probably best known for being eaten raw and on the half shell. Impress your crewmates with a selection of toppings like:

  • Shallot mignonette – ½ cup finely diced shallots stirred into ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • Asian inspired – 3tbsp soy sauce, fresh grated ginger and finely chopped green onion
  • Italian style – Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh ground pepper
  • Some like it hot – A splash of hot sauce and a squeeze of lime (you could even add a drop of tequila!)
  • Simply – Add a squeeze of lemon juice or fresh grated horseradish

Use your imagination to mingle flavours and textures. You might just come up with a crowd-favourite!

Try Preparing Oysters Hot

Oysters do double-duty because they’re also delicious when cooked. This is always a good option for anyone unsure of raw oysters. Try these cooked oyster recipes:

Baked on the Half Shell with Cheese and Spinach

Ingredients:Pacific oysters with spinach and cheese

  • A dozen pacific oysters 
  • 5oz softened cream cheese
  • ¼ cup frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan
  • Optional – 1/4tsp chilli flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 450°℉
  2. Set shucked oysters on the half shell on a baking tray
  3. In a bowl mix the cream cheese, cheddar, spinach, garlic and chilli flakes if using
  4. Place a spoonful of cheese mix on each oyster and top with grated parmesan
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown

Oyster Stuffed Beef Burgers (Carpetbagger Burgers)

Funny name, absolutely scrumptious burger!


For burger patties:

  • 1lb ground beef
  • ½ onion
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • Seasoning to taste

For the filling:

  • 4 rashers bacon, crumbled
  • 1 cup fresh oysters, removed from the shell and drained
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • A dash of each: olive oil, white wine, cream


  1. To make burgers, mix ingredients in a bowl then shape into 8 thin rounds
  2. Add olive oil to a pan and sauté oysters and mushrooms until soft. Drain any excess liquid then add a splash of wine and cream and crumbled bacon. Bring to boil, stirring then remove from heat
  3. When filling is cool, spoon 1 Tbsp onto the centre of 4 of the burger patties. Cover with the other 4 burgers and press the edges together to prevent leaking.
  4. Grill until cooked and serve in rolls with your favourite toppings 

Find The Perfect Yacht and the Perfect Place to Moor at Van Isle Marina

After a busy day harvesting pacific oysters, Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC, is the ideal spot to moor and enjoy your catch.  Our world-class marina has 500 berths and offers short and long stay moorage options to suit your needs.

Don’t have your own boat to find the best pacific oyster harvesting spots? Consider purchasing a new or used yacht or boat from our Van Isle Marina Yacht Sales team. Take a quick look at what is currently available, then contact us to make an appointment for a viewing. 

Happy oyster harvesting!

Pre-departure & Boat launch checklist

Pre-Departure and Boat Launch Checklist

A Quick Pre-Trip Checklist for Your Boat

Before you head out onto the water, it’s important to complete a short boat launch checklist prior to every launch. This ensures you have everything you need and your boat is ready for a day at sea. This pre-departure check is similar to what you’d do when checking over your car or truck before a short trip. This whole checklist should take no longer than 20 minutes if everything is ready to go from your last launch. boat launch checklist PDF

If you’re trailering your boat back to the water, it’s a good idea to give the trailer itself a quick check

  • Check trailer tires for pressure and refill if needed
  • Check tongue latch and coupling
  • Check trailer brake fluid level
  • Check trailer lights and replace as needed
  • Check the padding and rollers


DocumentsBoating documents
Before heading out, make sure all your important documents are on board

  • Check for boaters’ license
  • Check for ship’s papers
  • Check for fishing licenses on board
  • Put any required documents on display
  • Have your wallet on hand with credit card and ID info

Safety Equipment and Gearboat launch checklist - safety equipment
Up-to-date safety equipment is so important for fun and safety on the water. Safety inspections are always available with the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron (CPS-ECP)

  • Check flares for expiry dates
  • Check lifejackets and make sure there are enough for everyone on board
  • Check radio to make sure it works. Replace batteries or charge if needed
  • Check fire and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Check fire extinguishers

Navigation equipment should be checked and properly calibrated before every single trip, even just a short trip

  • Check the navigation lights
  • Check the compass to make sure it’s properly calibrated
  • Ensure you have all necessary maps and charts
  • Check the GPS and make sure it’s working

Anchors, Lines and Ropesboat launch checklist - check the boat anchor
All mooring and anchoring equipment should be clean and easy to reach

  • Is anchor securely fastened with proper knots?
  • Is there any damage to the anchor?
  • Make sure there’s enough line to be able to easily throw out anchor and moor 
  • Make sure there is extra line in case of emergency
  • Check the knots in the line
  • Check for any damage to the line


Engine and Fuel System
The heart of your boat, you won’t get very far without the engine! If you notice any strange noises or smoke, contact a boat mechanic for assistance

  • Fill fuel tank
  • Run the engine and listen for any trouble
  • Check fuel lines for any leaks or damage
  • Check that all fittings are tightened
  • Check that exhaust, engine and ventilation systems are in good shape
  • Run the engine and check for smoke
  • Check transom mounts (outboard)

Fluid Levels
Topped-up fluids will keep your steering system and engine working hard. Always check and top up your boat’s fluids

  • Check coolant
  • Check engine oil
  • Check power steering fluid
  • Check power trim reservoirs
  • Check coolant levels


Electricalpre-departure checklist - check navigational instruments
As boaters, we rely heavily on electrical equipment for a safe and comfortable experience. Take a few minutes to check each of the electrical components.

  • Check all connections for corrosion and cleanliness
  • Remove battery terminals, clean connections with wire brush
  • Check the battery is charged. Replace if needed
  • Test the generator on full tilt
  • Check interior and exterior lights
  • Check navigational equipment (GPS)
  • Check electrical box
  • Check HVAC and / or air conditioner while running on hot and cold

Always check to make sure the bilge is in good shape and the drain plug is secure.

  • Make sure the bilge is drained of excess water and free of fumes
  • Check for any plugged intakes
  • Check to make sure the bilge pump is working
  • Check to make sure a spare drain plug is on board


Check all interior and exterior lights to make sure you’ll never be left in the dark

  • Check safety lights 
  • Check lights in cabin and head (if applicable)
  • Double-check navigation lights and emergency lights
  • Check lights in livewells


PropellerPre-departure boat checklist - check propeller
If you see any marks or chips, this could affect your propeller’s performance.  If in doubt, talk to a pro about repair or replacement

  • Check all propellers for any damage
  • Make sure propellers are secure and replace bearings if needed


Interiorboat launch checklist - check interior
The cabin is your home away from home, particularly on multi-day trips. Take a few minutes to check lighting, appliances and water, to ensure a relaxing trip

  • Check for water pressure and quality
  • Check for leaks in fridge
  • Check temperature in fridge / freezer
  • Test the appliances
  • Check TV, speakers and any other extras


At Van Isle Marina, we offer moorage with annual, monthly and guest options. Conveniently located in sunny Sidney, BC, moorage with us is just moments from countless destinations. With amenities like storage locker, car parking, and a full-service marine fueling station and dock store, you’ll find everything you could need to outfit your boat and get ready for your trip. Come and see us, or request services/moorage information today.

Coastal Biking Trails on Vancouver Island

The Best Biking Trails Around Coastal Vancouver Island

Cycling Trails Around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands – Our Top 5 Picks

On Vancouver Island, outdoor enthusiasts are typically within a few kilometres of the coast at any given time. Views of the Pacific Ocean and Coastal Mountains frame many of our favourite parks and hiking trails. If you’re a biking enthusiast, boating to some of the best coastal biking trails on Vancouver Island is an excellent way to experience a complete land and sea adventure, while getting fit and having fun.

The Gulf Islands often have higher elevations and are an ideal destination for a challenging coastal bike ride. Meanwhile, cities like Victoria feature a smooth, even waterfront route for those in the mood for a more meandering or family-friendly ride.

Below are just a few of our favourite destinations for cyclists around the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

1. Biking Galiano IslandBiking Galiano Island, British Columbia

A 42 km return trip from Montague Harbour to Dionisio Park (also known as Coon Bay) and back, the biking on Galiano Island is hilly and requires a bit more stamina. Roads are narrow and there are no shoulders, but there are so many incredible views and parks to see that it’s worth the effort. If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking or mountain biking to the top of Mount Galiano. If you’re looking for a laid-back cycle, you can stop at any one of the parks on the island before retiring to your boat or to the lovely Galiano Inn and Spa for a bit of pampering.

Biking Lasqueti Island, BC

2. Biking Lasqueti Island

Lasqueti residents are avid bikers and the island has one of the most well-organized biking communities around. There are no cars on the Lasqueti Ferry, so the gravel roads are relatively quiet and popular with bikers. Only 68-square km with no hydroelectric power, Lasqueti is an island where you can really escape, riding the 15 km stretch from the ferry terminal to Squitty Bay Provincial Park.

If you prefer, you can moor at the narrow coves of Squitty Bay and ride into town instead. At 30 km total, you’ll be ready for a swim in the warm waters of Squitty Bay by the end of your journey. Later on, you can boat over to nearby Jedediah Island to spend the night near its white sand beaches. Because Jedediah is only accessible by boat, it’s a very serene space to set anchor.

3. Biking the Seaside Touring Route, VictoriaTouring Victoria BC on bike

Victoria is the cycling capital of Canada and is very bike-friendly. At any given time, you’ll see groups of bikers making their way through the downtown streets, around parks and cruising along the many designated bike lanes. One popular route is the Seaside Touring Route. At a total of 39 km, this is an easy trail network with plenty of entry and exit points. Being so bike-friendly means that Victoria has plenty of secure lock up spaces for your bike, to allow for sightseeing as well.

The route begins in James Bay, North America’s oldest residential neighbourhood. With a rich history and plenty of stunning views, it’s a fantastic way to start a long afternoon of cycling. Ride along the Ogden Point Breakwater, continue along to Dallas Road, where you can stop in at Beacon Hill Park to rest in the shade of the gardens with a snack. From there, keep cycling northeast through Oak Bay or Cadboro Bay. To stay on the loop, go north to connect to the Galloping Goose Trail, which will lead back to the centre of town. 

4. Biking Salt Spring Island

The largest of the Gulf Islands, Salt Spring Island is an ideal spot to moor your boat and get out on your bike. With longer loops (35 km and 50 km) on relatively flat terrain, Salt Spring Island trails are excellent for exploring everything the Island has to offer. From wineries to artisan shops, enjoying the Island’s coastal biking trails is an enjoyable day trip. If you’re staying for one day, we recommend choosing just one of the loops, rather than trying to do both and missing out on all the art galleries and picnic spots scattered around. Salt Spring Island is also home to some amazing artisan cheese, so be sure to stop off at Saltspring Island Cheese or Moonstruck Organic Cheese.

Starting at the Long Harbour Ferry Terminal you can follow the Northern Route, which follows the northern tip of the island after some initial short and steep hills through forests of Arbutus and Douglas Fir trees. Or, you can choose the 50 km route which begins at the Ganges Ferry Terminal. Around 7 km from Ganges is a gorgeous white clamshell beach, which is ideal for a water break and a bit of a stretch before you continue along the route. Following Beaver Point Road, you can choose to head back to Ganges or continue on to Fulford Harbour. Note: The roads on Salt Spring Island can be quite busy at peak season, so it’s best to yield to ferry traffic in Ganges and Fulford Harbour.

Biking Yellow Point Road

5. Biking Yellow Point Road

South of Nanaimo, the Cedar and Yellowpoint areas offer a diverse bike ride filled with country and ocean views. Like the Gulf Islands, the area also abounds with local artisans, farms, cafes, pubs, orchards and more. Running 30 km, your route begins at CoCo Café on Cedar Road. Fuel up with a locally made breakfast and specialty coffee at this unique café before you hit the road. Cedar has narrow shoulders and some hilly areas, so always cycle with caution. Along the way, you can stop off at many different parks and beaches. Due to the popularity of biking in the area, the Yellowpoint Ecological Society is proposing a designated trail for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians.  

These are just a handful of the many beautiful cycling trails and pathways around Vancouver Island. With a mix of busier, tourist driven towns and quiet, hidden gems. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll find a new place to explore on your bike wherever you decide to anchor. Challenge yourself or just enjoy a slow ride surrounded by wildlife. Whatever you choose, your boat can lead you to Vancouver Island’s greatest cycling trails on the coast.

Planning your summer adventures? Consider upgrading your boat to get the most out of every minute of your trips. At Van Isle Marina, we offer a wide variety of new luxury Pursuit boats as well as pre-loved yachts and cruisers. Whether you’re looking for a yacht big enough for the whole family or for a leisurely escape for two, our team at Van Isle Marina looks forward to helping you find the perfect boat. Contact us via phone or web form to get started or come see us in sunny Sidney, BC today.