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15 things to do in Sidney BC

15 Things to Do in Sidney BC

Wondering What To Do While You’re Visiting Sidney?

Many boating enthusiasts who come to the Pacific Northwest from far and wide to take in the area’s stunning scenery make a point of stopping in Sidney by the Sea – a seaside community in British Columbia, Canada.sidney pier in Sidney, BC, Canada

Sidney is located at the northern end of the Saanich Peninsula on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The small town is where we here at Van Isle Marina call home.

Sometimes referred to as the gateway to Vancouver Island, Sidney is home to around 11,500 residents and is a popular tourist destination, especially during the spring and summer months. It also happens to be the only Canadian port-of-call in the Washington State Ferries system, with ferries running from Sidney to the San Juan Islands and Anacortes. Sidney is also just minutes away from the Victoria International Airport and Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, our friendly Van Isle Marina staff recommend checking out the following attractions in Sidney, BC.

Waterfront Walkway

After you’ve experienced Sidney’s waterfront from your yacht, Sidney’s waterfront walkway is the next best way to fully experience the town’s beautiful shoreline. Along the 3.6-km walkway, you’ll find Beacon Park and the start of the Sidney Seaside Sculpture Walk that ambles south towards the Sidney International Ferry Terminal. On this self-guided tour, stop to take pictures of the public art and sculptures, such as the Board Dog, Eye of the Ocean, and Double Spinner.

Sidney Pierromantic pier in Sidney BC

Along the waterfront walkway in Sidney, you’ll also happen upon the town’s iconic fisherman’s pier where you will be able to grab a bite to eat or visit the fish market. Why not stay a while, cast a line, and see if anything bites? The pier in Sidney is also a popular spot for crab fishing.


Sidney is an excellent place to stock up on books for your boat! With its five independent bookstores, Sidney is known as Canada’s only “Booktown”. Each of Sidney’s independently owned bookshops has a unique identity and focal point, with experts behind the counter who have put together special collections of thousands of titles to choose from.

Lochside Trail

Sidney is conveniently located on the Lochside Trail a 29-kilometre multi-use path that connects the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal to Victoria, where it connects with the Galloping Goose Trail. A great way to experience the Lochside Trail is to rent a bike in Sidney to head out on this trail that was formerly a railway line. You’ll zip past beaches and farmland, while exploring the suburban countryside.

BC Aviation Museum

For aviation enthusiasts, the British Columbia Aviation Museum is open seven days a week and features several aircraft and artifacts related to the history of aviation in Canada, with an emphasis on BC aviation history. The museum displays restored aircraft, engines, and pictures, photos and videos in addition to memorials of key figures of aviation history.Sidney Museum in Sidney, BC, Canada

Sidney Museum

The Sidney Museum features 8,000 artifacts and regularly updated permanent displays on local First Nations, industry, transportation, agriculture, and social history. Displays include a vintage kitchen, a vintage storefront, a rustic barn and a hands-on schoolhouse. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Sidney Museum also features temporary exhibits. A schedule can be found on their website.

Wines, Beers & Ciders

Deep Cove Winery in Sidney BC

In and around Sidney, there are numerous vineyards and distillers around to help quench your thirst, including Victoria Distillers’ new waterfront distillery in Sidney, the Sea Cider Far & Cider House in Saanichton, the Roost Vineyard Bistro in North Saanichton, and Deep Cove Winery, also in North Saanichton.

Roberts Bay

Enjoy an afternoon of hiking and birdwatching at Robert’s Bay and the Shoal Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary. You can birdwatch from your boat, or moor with us at Van Isle Marina and walk over to explore the area on foot. Other nearby sites include Island View Beach and Horth Hill Regional Park.

Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea Aquarium

The Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea on Sidney’s waterfront is a world-class, hands-on aquarium featuring 160 species of marine life, a marine mammal artifact exhibit, and a Coast Salish art collection. It’s a great attraction for kids and adults alike with an events calendar that includes everything from children’s activities to informative lectures and workshops about the Salish Sea.

Downtown Shopping

Be sure to leave time to explore all of downtown Sidney, where there are plenty of boutique shops featuring the work of local artisans and crafters. Enjoy an afternoon of strolling through each shop for some truly unique finds. Sidney shops offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for special artwork for your boat, gifts for your loved ones, or functional items for your home.

Sidney Street Market

The Sidney Street Market has been going strong since 1999! If you’re lucky enough to be in Sidney on a Thursday evening between June and August, be sure to make your way downtown and stock up on fresh ingredients and local crafts from Island vendors.

Sidney Spit

Sidney Spit, located on the north end of Sidney Island,  is part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. The area features stunning sandy beaches, wooded trails, and a host of birds and wildlife. There are campsites, dock spaces, and mooring buoys for overnight stays. Get there in your powerboat or kayak, or use the walk-on ferry service that provides access to the Island from May to September.

Sidney Whale Watching

The calm waters near Sidney make the region an excellent place for whale watching. Watch from the privacy of your own boat, or book through Sidney Whale Watching.

BC Boat Show & Other Annual Events

Sidney hosts a wide range of annual events throughout the year, including the 2019 BC Boat Show in May, where members of the Van Isle Marina team will be offering tours of our boats. Check Sidney’s featured events calendar to see what else will be happening in town during your trip.

Van Isle Marina & Sea Glass Waterfront Grill Sidney by the Sea, Sidney, British Columbia, Canada

As a bonus item on our list of Things to Do in Sidney, BC, we thought we might as well include ourselves! Take a walk on our docks and check out all the boats we have moored here. While you’re here, we hope you also check out the Sea Glass Waterfront Grill, which serves up contemporary west coast dining.

The boating experts here at Van Isle Marina are very familiar with Sidney, and we would love to answer any questions you might have about the town itself, and how to navigate to nearby communities and attractions, whether by car or boat. We look forward to welcoming you to our docks and the quaint seaside region we call home.


Anchoring Mooring Docking - Van Isle Marina

Anchoring, Mooring & Docking

Learning the (Getting) Ins and Outs of Boating

Let’s look at the differences between anchoring, mooring, and docking. While they all refer to ways of securing your boat in place when necessary, these 3 nautical terms all mean something slightly different.

An essential part of learning how to navigate a new vessel is learning all the options you have for stopping your boat whenever the need arises, such as when you’re:

  • Preparing for an overnight at sea
  • Waiting for a storm to pass
  • Stopping to cast a line
  • Taking a swimming break
  • Retiring the boat for the season
  • Getting fueled up

To secure your yacht in place for any length of time, your choices include anchoring, mooring, or docking the boat. All these terms refer to securing your boat in position on the water – for hours, days, or months at a time.

Anchoring Your BoatAnchoring - Van Isle Marina, Sidney BC

Anchoring your boat refers to dropping a large heavy object that is attached to your boat into the water, where it latches itself to the seabed with hooks and suction to keep the boat in place. You can anchor your boat anywhere if you have an anchor cable (known as an anchor rode) that’s long enough. To figure out how long your anchor rode should be, multiply the deepest water you might anchor in by eight.

Many modern motor yachts come with built-in anchoring systems. For example, like on most Riviera luxury yachts, the anchoring station on board the Riviera 57 Enclosed Flybridge is located at the bow, concealed from view, and comes with a remote control, fresh and saltwater washdown outlets, and a rope locker.

Having your yacht come with an anchoring station takes the guesswork out of which size and weight of anchor is best for your vessel, but there is a greater science behind anchoring that you’ll want to be aware of if you’re a new boat owner, especially if you’ll be anchoring in varying types of sea beds.

For additional anchoring security, many boaters carry two anchors of different styles – a fluke/Danforth style and a plow/scoop variety. The type of seabed you’re navigating, such as mud, grass, sand, coral, or rock, will determine which anchor is most suitable to use. Research your anchoring options before sailing too far from shore and make sure you’re confident with how the process works.

Mooring Your BoatMooring - Van Isle Marina, Sidney BC

Mooring refers to lassoing, tethering, tying, or otherwise securing your boat to a fixed object, such as a mooring buoy, rather than dropping an anchor to secure your vessel anywhere you fancy. You can moor your boat to a mooring buoy, dock, quay, wharf, jetty, or pier.

If mooring at a dock or pier with many other boats, such as at Van Isle Marina, there is a chance your boat will be occupying a dock or dock space that is the width of your boat, rather than the length. However, you will always have your own strip of docking walkway for easy loading and unloading.

Mooring your boat (sometimes called berthing) is done a few different ways and might take some trial and error until you perfect this skill. Mooring in a tight space amongst many other boaters proves to be intimidating for many new boaters.

To moor a boat at a mooring buoy out in open water, you’ll need something to grab hold of the buoy with, such as a boat hook or a line. You can either lasso the buoy with your line and pull your boat towards it to further secure it or use a boat hook to reach out and grab the buoy.

At these types of mooring locations, there will most likely be the mooring anchor, mooring chain, and mooring buoy – all you need to supply is the line or the hook to help your boat attach to the mooring area.

  • mooring anchor – this is a regular anchor in a fixed position that keeps your boat steady while it is being moored. Use one that is three times the weight of your service anchor.
  • mooring chain – this line connects the anchor to the floating buoy. We recommend three times the length of depth, and a quarter-inch larger than your service chain.
  • mooring buoy – a floating device that connects to the anchor and marks the place where the boat is moored.

If you find a vacant mooring anchor and buoy, simply pull up as close to it as possible and attach your line and mooring buoy accordingly – using your lasso technique or the boat hook. If the buoy is not public property, be prepared to vacate at short notice if the owner turns up. To tell if the buoy is strong enough to moor your yacht, consider the size of boats on similar buoys nearby and use your best judgment.

If you have enough hands on-deck, backing the boat up will likely get you close enough to the mooring point via the stern rather than the bow, making things a little simpler, depending on the shape of your boat.

Van Isle Marina offers moorage for boats of all sizes at competitive rates per square foot.

A Word on Rafting Up: Sometimes you might come across boats that are tied together on the water. This is known as “rafting up” and is essentially a boat moored to another boat. It can come in handy when every other moorage station is full, in emergencies, or if you’re just looking to socialize with another boat on the water. If you’re looking to raft up with another boat, whether it’s moored already or you’re both out on the open sea, the proper etiquette is to ask first, and have your fenders in place and an anchor ready to drop.

Docking Your BoatDocking - Van Isle Marina, Sidney, BC

Docking your boat refers to pulling your vessel up to a dock as parallel as you can, and then using ropes (dock lines) and nautical knots to secure (fasten) the boat to the dock.

In addition to the docking line, to dock your boat safely, you’ll require four or more fenders – large plastic or rubber devices that act as a buffer between the boat and the dock or pier and other boats, protecting both from damage. Using a couple large fenders close together at the front of your boat when coming into dock can act as a bumper, further protecting your yacht during this procedure.

When you’re docking a boat, the boat will be close enough for guests to easily disembark the vessel onto the dock (land). Docking usually means the length of your boat (bow and stern) will be secured to the dock, giving you a maximum amount of space for loading and unloading of supplies, as well as maintenance and cleanup of your vessel.

Docking is made easier when there is someone already on the dock to help you, and when the winds and the tide are cooperating. However, just like parallel parking a car, docking a boat gets easier and easier each time you do it. At Van Isle Marina, one of our experienced boaters can show you how it’s done.

Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC is your go-to boat marina in the Pacific Northwest. We love to help fellow boaters just like us learn more about all the ins and outs of boating, including anchoring, mooring, and docking. If you’re interested in buying or selling a boat or moorage at our marina, give us a call or stop by to find out why so many people love to moor with us.


What people have to say about mooring with Van Isle Marina:

Impeccable facilities, moorage for 100’+ yachts down to small fishing boats, always helpful and alert staff, 24 hour video security, full service boatyard, large dry stowage yard, two sided fuel dock, Canada Customs dock, pumpout dock, laundry, showers and the best restaurant in town all located just 15 minutes from Victoria International Airport (YYJ) and on the door step to one of the best cruising grounds on Earth.  ~ EZBob Vincent


Great spot for moorage. Friendly staff, excellent facilities with updated docks.  ~ Scott Hutchinson

33 Different Types of Fishing - Van Isle Marina

33 Different Styles of Fishing

33 Ways to Fish – from Angling to Trotlining

When you find the fishing technique you prefer over all other styles, it’s quite easy to forget that other styles of fishing even exist! But at Van Isle Marina, we believe it’s never too late to try something new. If you’re new to the world of fishing, or just looking for another type of fishing style to master, check out our overview of the different types of fishing out there.

As a community of enthusiastic boaters, our favourite way to fish involves anything off a boat. Whether it be angling, jigging, trolling, or fly fishing, we believe fishing from a boat is most effective because it gives you more access to different species of fish and ups your chances of a bite. Fishing on a boat is also comfortable and fun! Fortunately, many of these styles of fishing included in our list can be done from a boat.

33 Fishing StylesAngling on a 43 Riviera Open Flybridge

Angling – refers to using a hook attached to a line to catch fish. Angling is almost always done with some type of bait and sinker on the hook. It can be done on the shore, off a dock, or on a boat.

Bank Fishing – a style of angling off a river bank or a similar shoreline, usually with a fishing rod, or less commonly, nets, traps, and spears.

Bottom Fishing – this angling technique refers to fishing on the bottom of the seabed, usually for groundfish like suckerfish, bream, catfish, and crappie. A weight is added to the end of your line or rod.

Casting – this refers to using a flexible fishing rod to throw (cast) your fishing line out, over, and into the water. Casting is a sport all on its own, regardless of any fish that are caught, with tournaments marking competitors on their accuracy and distance.

Chartered Fishing – refers to fishing with or without a tour guide aboard a boat that you have hired for the duration of the trip. Charted fishing excursions can involve any number of techniques listed here.

Commercial Fishing – fishing for profit. The commercial fishing industry is heavily regulated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, a federal governing body.

Droplining – refers to dropping a long fishing line straight down, without casting far off into the water. A dropline often has several hooks attached to it, although not as many as a longline. It’s a form of angling, meaning there is hook and bait involved, as well as a weight at the bottom and a float at the top.Fishing Water Summer Bucket Boy Overalls Outdoors

Fly Fishing – refers to a style of fishing in which artificial flies are used to lure fish to your line. It’s an older method of angling, particularly effective for trout, salmon, bass, carp, and more. Fly fishing is commonly done off the shores of river banks or standing right in the river.

Freshwater Fishing – fishing in lakes and rivers using any technique. Freshwater fishing is heavily regulated in BC. Learn more about freshwater fishing licences and regulations in British Columbia

Hand-Gathering – Hand-gathering is the act of fishing with the simplest set of tools – your hands. There are many styles of hand-gathering fishing, such as simply picking up shellfish or clam digging at the beach. Pearl divers are also hand-gatherers, and divers can also fish for lobsters using just their hands.

Handlining – a type of fishing using a single fishing line that is held in your hands. It can be done from boats or from the shore, mainly for catching groundfish.

Ice Fishing – refers to fishing with lines and hooks through a small opening in a frozen body of water.

Jigging – a popular style of angling in which a jig is the chosen type of fishing lure. A jig consists of a hook molded into a lead sinker that is covered by a soft coloured rubber.

Kayak Fishing – this angling technique refers to fishing off the side of a kayak. Special considerations must be made on what equipment to carry, and how it will be fitted to the small-sized vessel.

Kite Fishing – a unique style of angling, kites can be used for trolling a lure through water and provide people without boats or people with mobility issues greater access to hard to reach bodies of water. This type of fishing is more common in places such as the Pacific Islands and Australia.

Longlining – this commercial fishing technique involves the use of a long heavy fishing line that has hundreds of baited hooks hanging from it via branches, a.k.a., “snoods”. Longlining is typically done on boats called longliners that use a special winch to haul in the line and operate in deeper waters. Longlining is a common method used to catch swordfish, tuna, halibut or sablefish.

Netting – a style of fishing using nets to capture many fish at once. It’s the main method of commercial fishing. There are many types of net to use, including:

  • Cast nets: round, weighted nets, also called throw nets.
  • Drift nets: nets that are not anchored.
  • Hand nets: small, hand-held nets that remain opened using a hoop.
  • Gill nets: a special net a fish cannot pass through without hooking its gills on the mesh.
  • Trawl nets: large nets that are towed through the water by a boat called a trawler.

Noodling – a style of hand-gathering fishing in which the “noodler” sticks their arm in a catfish hole, hoping for a bite. It’s dangerous, and therefore illegal in some states.

Pitch Fishing – a method of angling which involves intentionally casting your line and lure out at a lower angle so that is enters the water quietly, so as not to scare the fish away.

Recreational Fishing – fishing solely for fun. Recreational fishing is an overarching type of fishing that involves any number of techniques listed here, especially saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing.

Remote Control Fishing – picture a floating drone rather than a flying drone, with a fishing rod attached to it, and you get a good idea of what remote control fishing is all about.

Rock Fishing – a style of angling in which you are fishing off the edges of rocky jetties and cliffs. This is considered a highly dangerous type of fishing.

Saltwater Fishing – fishing in salt waters (oceans). Also called “tidal waters fishing”. To fish in salt waters in BC, you must get a tidal waters fishing licence.

Slabbing – used to catch bass, this line fishing technique involves constantly lifting and dropping a flat lead lure painted to look like a baitfish. To be most effective, the fishermen must first locate a school of fish using a fishfinder.

Spearfishing – refers to any form of fishing that involves impaling the fish using a spear on a long pole. Spearfishing is usually done in shallower waters when the fish are visible. It requires you to be quick and precise with your movements. You can spearfish off a boat or by wading into the water.

Spears can be simple or complex, ranging from bow and arrow style, harpoons, Hawaiian slings, trident-type spears, and modern spearguns:

  • Bowfishing: involves using a bow and arrow to kill fish in shallow water from above.
  • Harpooning: involves using a long spear-like tool often with barbs at the end.
  • Pole spears: involves using a sling attached to the spear.
  • Hawaiian slings: involves using a sling separate from the spear (slingshot or an underwater bow and arrow).
  • Tridents: tridents are spears with three prongs rather than a single prong.
  • Gigging: involves using small, trident-type spears to kill bullfrogs.
  • Pike Poles: an older form of spearfishing, particularly used during ice fishing. Instead of a spearhead, two smaller, curved spikes were used.
  • Spearguns: used for fishing and target practice, spearguns are deployed by divers underwater. There are threaded, lined, and break-away varieties.

Sportfishing – refers to fishing competitively to see who can catch the heaviest fish, or who can catch the most fish. Sport fishing often involves large cash prizes and bragging rights for the winner.

Surfcasting – refers to fishing from the shores of a saltwater beach. Surfcasting is a style of angling that requires a long surfcasting rod and the ability to cast a large distance.

Tenkara Fishing – a Japanese style of fly fishing (angling) that was first done with a bamboo pole and no reel. Modern tenkara fishing rods use a tapered or level line and are mostly telescopic and made of graphite.

Trapping – refers to the sinking of baited traps to the bottom of the seabed in the hopes fish swim into the trap. The traps resemble large cages and are commonly used for crab and lobster fishing.

Trawling – the process of dropping a large net off the side of a slow-moving boat called a trawler.Water Seagulls Fishing Boat Birds Sky Ocean Sea

Trolling – a line fishing technique that involves slowly pulling one or more baited lines through the water. It can be done effortlessly off the side of a moving boat, or from land as you cast your line as far as you can and slowly reel the line back in.

Trotlining – trotlining is a line fishing technique that is a lot like droplining, but the trotline’s hooks are suspended horizontally in the water, rather than vertically. This fishing technique is good for fishing across rivers.

While we here are Van Isle Marina on Vancouver Island love a lazy afternoon of fishing from shore every now and then, we believe there’s no better feeling than reeling in a big one onto your motor yacht.

If you’re on the market for a new fishing boat, check out our selection of fishing boats for sale. We invite you to learn more about our yacht sales process or come and see our marina in Sidney, BC.

For tips on when to use lures or live bait, check out our Lures vs Live Bait debate.

No matter what style of fishing you love the most, when you eventually catch one or two, you’re going to have to know how to clean it to preserve its flavour. Review our Guide to Cleaning a Fish

See a style of fishing not mentioned here? Contact us and let us know!

2019 BC Boat Show

 Sidney, British Columbia Hosts the 2019 BC Boat Show

Van Isle Marina is looking forward to welcoming you onboard our boats during the 29th annual BC Boat Show, happening May 2-5, 2019 at Port Sidney Marina in Sidney, BC. Hosted by the British Columbia Yacht Brokers Association (BCYBA), the BC Boat Show draws huge crowds of enthusiastic boaters from British Columbia, Alberta, and Washington state.

More than 200 boats will be on the water and for sale during the BC Boat Show, returning to our quaint, seaside town of Sidney. Van Isle Marina is excited to be showcasing the 43’ Riviera Open Flybridge 2019 and 32’ Back Cove 2018 at this year’s event.

Here is a closer look at what we will be bringing down to the show:

43 Riviera Open Flybridge 2019

The Riviera 43 Open Flybridge is classically designed and extremely easy to operate. It’s perfect for fishing or blue-water cruising and features three levels of living space and large cockpits. The 43 has two designer staterooms, two bathrooms, a full galley with a breakfast bar, saloon, optional laundry, side decks, optional BBQ area, and plenty more handcrafted, well-designed features. The flybridge stair ladder ascends to a bright, airy, open flybridge with a hardtop, regular lounge, L-shaped all-weather forward lounge, wet bar, and spacious flybridge helm.

As for propulsion, the 43 Riviera Open Flybridge is equipped with a Volvo Penta Inboard Performance System (IPS). Cruising at 28 knots with a top speed of around 31 knots, the 43 Open Flybridge has a range of 340 nautical miles from its 476-gallon tank. The integrated joystick control makes handling in close-quarters simple and delightful!

Step inside the 43 Open Flybridge at the BC Boat Show to experience everything this modern luxury motor yacht has to offer, including two 12″ Garmin Glass Bridge GPS screens, integrated GRID controller autopilot helm, Garmin GSD 26 CHIRP sounder and transducer, and 4 KW Open Array Radar.

32 Back Cove 2018 

The 32 Back Cove 2018 is an award-winning, head-turning Downeast-style luxury motor yacht with classic good looks and exceptional fuel efficiency – from a single-diesel Volvo D6 370 mhp electronically controlled engine. Owners appreciate this model’s modern straight-forward systems and expert construction. This vessel’s single-level deck from transom to companionway brings the social spaces of the cockpit and pilothouse into one, with a private master stateroom below.

The 32 Back Cove is modeled after distinctive early Maine lobster boats. It was designed with customer-preferred design features in mind, building on the same concepts that the brand has become known for: motor yacht cruising in affordable and easily maintained yachts. You’ll be impressed with the Back Cove 32’s practical elegance and lines of this Downeast-style motor yacht.

For the 32 Back Cove, skilled boat builders crafted a warm and inviting interior using American cherry, finely finished with satin varnish. This award-winning, head-turning model comes equipped with the factory optional hardback enclosure for comfortable year-round cruising, and many more add-ons are available.

Van Isle Marina is the exclusive dealer of Riviera and Back Cove Motor Yachts in Western Canada, and we love showing off these models every chance we get, including at the upcoming BC Boat Show!

To learn more about these boats and others, we hope you will join our brokers and thousands of other boating enthusiasts in Sidney for the BC Boat Show. Come for the boats, stay for the amazing amenities and views Sidney has to offer.

Things to do at the BC Boat Show

  • Tour a wide selection of power and sailboats on the water.
  • Learn from on-site yacht brokers who are ready to answer your boating questions.
  • Walk through the tented pavilion on land for a wide selection of outboards, dinghies, navigation equipment, fishing gear and more.
  • Take a break with a visit to the snack bar and the floating beer garden.
  • Meet and network with other enthusiastic members of the recreational boating industry.

“Sidney is a unique and exciting seaside town on Vancouver Island and is at the centre of the most beautiful recreational cruising waters in the world. We have plans to make this more than a boat show – more like a festival for all to enjoy,” says Steven Threadkell, BC Boat Show manager of this year’s event.

BC Boat Show 2019 Show Hours

  • Thursday, May 2 – 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Friday, May 3 – 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, May 4 – 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
  • Sunday, May 5 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

We look forward to seeing you at the show! If you’ll be coming for the show from out of town, we hope you will also make the trip up the coast to Van Isle Marina so you can see all of the yachts we have for sale right now – we are located just 3 km north of the host marina for this year’s show.

Learn more about the BC Boat Show

Learn more about Van Isle Marina

Birdwatching - common seabirds of Vancouver Island

Birdwatching from Your Boat

Common Seabirds of Vancouver Island

As you cruise around Vancouver Island and the neighbouring Gulf Islands of Canada’s west coast, you won’t be able to ignore the diverse population of birds soaring above you or swimming beside your vessel. Vancouver Island is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with so many different types flocking to and from the island throughout the year, both on land and in the sea.

Here is a quick look at some of the birds you’re likely to spot while boating in the Pacific Northwest around Vancouver Island. Have your binoculars and camera ready!

Common birds of vancouver island - sawbill duck

Sawbill Duck

Types of Birds Around Vancouver Island


There are many ducks to be found close to the shoreline surrounding Vancouver Island, including sawbill ducks known for their saw-toothed bills which are ideal for catching fish underwater. Mergansers, which are commonly found in winter, are the most common sawbill duck found around the island. There are also Harlequins (spring and summer breeders), Eiders, Scoters, and Goldeneyes, which migrate in late fall and early spring.


canadian loon - birds of vancouver island

Canadian Loon

There are four main types of loons living around Vancouver Island: the Common Loon (as found on Canada’s $1 coins called “Loonies”), Pacific Loon, Yellow-billed Loon, and Red-Throated Loon. Loons are aquatic birds that are larger than ducks but smaller than geese. They are hardy birds seen year-round in our waters, but especially in the winter.


Known for soaring great distances despite their incredible size, the albatross is hard to miss. Albatrosses are large seabirds that originated in the Atlantic but are now common around the Pacific Ocean. Albatrosses found in our region are the Black-footed (most common), Laysan, and Short-tailed Albatrosses. Back in the day, sailors regarded the Albatross as a symbol of good luck.


If you’re out far enough from the shore in your boat, you might spot a shearwater or two, which are known to follow whales and fishermen around in search of an easy catch. The Pacific Ocean is home to several species of shearwaters, including the Short-Tailed, Sooty, Flesh-Footed, Pink-Footed and Buller’s shearwaters.

Storm Petrels

Storm Petrels are known for their tube-shaped beaks. They are similar to shearwaters, but don’t fly so close to the waves. There are two main types of Storm Petrels in our region: the Fork-tailed Storm Petrel and the Leach’s Storm Petrel.


Cormorants are large birds with distinctive hooked bills used to catch fish as they dive beneath the sea’s surface. Cormorants found around Vancouver Island include the Double-Crested, Pelagic, and Brandt’s Cormorant.


You’ll find plovers wading along the shoreline feeding on insects, crustaceans, and worms. The main plover species living around Vancouver Island include the Pacific Golden, American Golden, Black-Bellied, and Killdeer plovers.


Sandpipers also wade along the shorelines hunting for food. They have long bills, which set them apart from plovers. Vancouver Island is home to sandpipers like Godwits, Turnstones, Shanks, Tattlers, Dowitchers, and Calidrids.

Skuas & Jaegers

Skuas and jaegers are strong, “scrappy” birds that like to take their food from gulls and other seabirds. Species in the region include the Pomarine Jaeger, Long-Tailed Jaeger, Parasitic Jaeger, and South Polar Skua.

Murres, Auks & Puffins

These closely related seabirds are all known to be clumsy on land, but fast underwater. With their black and white feathers and upright posture, these birds may remind you of penguins, but there is no relation. Notable species to look out for while boating are the Tufted Puffin, Cassin’s Auklet Common Murre, Ancient Murrelet, and endangered Marbled Murrelet.


Considered very much to be coastal birds, gulls are practically synonymous with the sea, and there is certainly no shortage of gulls living around Vancouver Island. The Western Gull is the most common gull in the region, but there are many others, like the Ring-Billed Gull, Herring Gull, Heermann’s Gull, Glaucous-Winged Gull, Slaty-Backed Gull, and Common (Mew) Gull.


Skimmers are black and white long-winged birds with bright reddish bills. They closely resemble terns, who forage for food from dusk until dawn. Skimmers are easily recognizable and have several other names, including scissor-bill, shearwater, seadog, cutwater, razorbill, flood gull, and stormgull.


Terns are long-distance migrants closely related to gulls and skimmers – the biggest difference being they are slimmer birds and have longer tails and shorter legs. Around Vancouver Island there are three main species of terns to spot: the Arctic Tern, Common Tern, and Caspian Tern.


bald eagle - common birds of vancouver island

Bald Eagle

There are several raptors (birds of prey) circling Vancouver Island at any given time, including the mighty Bald Eagle – builders of the largest tree nests in the world. The bald eagle hunts near large bodies of water and nests in old-growth forests. They especially enjoy flying near rivers during the fall salmon spawning season. No matter how many times you see an eagle, it’s hard not to stop what you’re doing and stare.

Other raptors to admire around the Island include the Peregrine Falcon, the Osprey (found near any body of water), the Turkey Vulture (found inland around garbage heaps), and the Red-Tailed Hawk – a bird that prefers open fields to the open sea.


Belted Kingfishers are commonly found year-round along the streams and shorelines around the island. Known as much for their loud, rattling calls as they are for their large heads, shaggy crests, and big bills, the American Belted Kingfisher was prominently featured on the Canadian $5 bill in 1986, which is why he might look a little familiar.

Black Oystercatchers

The black oystercatcher is a distinctive bird with its bright red beak, pink legs, and pure black feathers. Find oystercatchers hanging out in pairs during low tide or near protected shorelines and jetties. Contrary to their name, oystercatchers don’t eat Vancouver Island oysters – they prefer other shellfish like clams and mussels.

Grey Heron - common birds of vancouver island

Grey Heron


There is a unique subspecies of the Great Blue Heron living year-round on Vancouver Island. Unlike other herons, the ones here do not migrate; instead they breed in colonies in marshes and wetlands. From Quadra Island all the way down to Victoria, you can find Herons patiently waiting on floating beds of kelp, waiting in anticipation for their next meal.

This list is just a partial list of the bird species you’re likely to spot on Canada’s west coast. You can find a few of them, such as Harlequin Ducks and Great Blue Herons at Robert’s Bay Bird Sanctuary, which is just steps away from us here at Van Isle Marina. Or, if you’re heading in-land, try any of these South Vancouver Island hikes to catch a glimpse of even more bird species.

At Van Isle Marina, we have decades of experience out on the water and have spotted plenty of the birds listed above, particularly from the decks of our motor boats and yachts.

Come and see us – we are your Pacific Northwest boating experts and will be happy to show you around our docks!

For more pics and information about all the seabirds of Vancouver Island, visit Discover Vancouver Island.


boat types - when is a yacht a yacht

When is a Boat a Yacht?

Yacht Sizes, Types, Styles & Categories

With so many different types of yachts to choose from, it can be hard to know your Flybridges from your Tri-Decks if you’re just starting your search. Although there is a growing number of terms used to describe the different types of yachts out there, many of the terms overlap or are used interchangeably.

If you’re on the market for a yacht, the team here at Van Isle Marina has compiled a review of the different terms you’ll likely come across when cruising through yachts for sale.

definition of a yacht - megayacht

a luxury motoryacht

Below is our brief guide to understanding the different terms the boating community has been known to use to describe yachts.

Definition of a Yacht

What exactly makes a yacht a yacht, and not just a big boat? There is no nailed down definition of what makes a yacht a yacht, but most boaters consider a yacht to be any type of sea vessel that is used strictly for recreational or pleasure purposes like cruising, entertaining, water sports, fishing, or year-round accommodations.

Yachts are usually large enough to have some form of sleeping quarters (cabin) on board for overnight trips as well as a kitchen (galley) and a bathroom (head). They are also large enough that they require more than human inputs (i.e rowing) to propel forward.

Yachts are classed by many things, including their mode of propulsion, size, style, amenities, and function.

General Types of Yachts

Definition of a Yacht - Sailing Yacht

a sailing yacht

A yacht is first defined either as a sailing yacht, motor yacht, or gulet yacht, and then as a sports or luxury yacht.

  • Sailing Yacht: a yacht mainly propelled via wind and sails
  • Motor Yacht: a yacht propelled via one or more motors
  • Gulet Yacht: a hybrid yacht with both sails and motors
  • Open Yacht, Cruiser, Cabin Cruiser, Express Cruiser: an otherwise uncategorized standard yacht for cruising and entertaining
  • Luxury Yacht: a yacht that includes high-end finishes and features and the latest in modern performance technology. The term ‘luxury’ can precede any type of yacht, i.e. “luxury motor yacht”, “luxury sailing yacht”, etc.
  • Sports Yacht: a yacht geared towards fishing, water sports, or cruising with a sleeker design and more powerful motor for faster cruising speeds. The term ‘sports’ can precede other types of yachts as well, i.e. “sports motor yacht”.
  • Catamaran Yacht: a yacht with two hulls (pontoons) often made of fiberglass that can be used in shallow waters.

    Definition of a yacht - Catamaran

    a catamaran

Yacht Sizes

Yachts can further be defined as a superyacht or megayacht, depending on their size.

  • Superyachts are typically 24 meters (78 feet) and above.
  • Megayachts are typically over 80 meters (260 feet).

Most motor yachts on the market are typically 24 meters (78 feet) or less.  There are only a handful of megayachts in the world due to their extravagant price tag.

Yacht Style Categories

Yachts can further be grouped or defined according to their form and function, such as with flybridge, sedan, pilot house, and sportfish yachts, for example.

  • Classic Motor Yacht: a yacht that was built between the 1920s and 1970s (before today’s modern technology began dominating modern yacht manufacturing). A modern yacht can be built based on the classic motor yacht style.
  • Sedan: a popular yacht style with deck space above the hull and living quarters below. The living quarters of a sedan yacht are enclosed and single-level.
  • Flybridge: a sedan-style yacht with an open deck and more comfortable living space above the main bridge of a vessel.
  • Daybridge: a multi-level yacht that is even more open than a flybridge. Belize Motoryachts are known for creating this distinctive style of yacht.
  • Open or Enclosed: a term used to describe the layout of and access to the flybridge. In an enclosed flybridge, access to the above flybridge is enclosed inside the living space. In an open flybridge, access to the flybridge above is open to the elements.
  • Downeast Style: a low-profile yacht with a large working cockpit and small helm station. This highly recognizable style is inspired by the mid-1900s traditional Maine lobster boat. Back Cove yachts are a shining example of downeast-style inspired yachts.
  • Pilothouse: A multi-deck yacht like a flybridge with a larger interior main deck. See the Offshore 62 Pilot House as an example.
  • Sky Lounge: an enclosed area at the top of the vessel that provides the benefits of the view but with several amenities, protection from the elements, expansive windows and sometimes a sunroof.
  • Cockpit Motor Yacht: a yacht with more cockpit space than deck space.
  • Sportfish or Sport Fishing Yacht: A yacht used for fishing with a large cockpit, storage space, and the ability to handle rougher seas. These can also be referred to as Flybridge Sportfish or Sportfish Express and are built for longer durations out on the water.
  • Convertible: a yacht that combines features of a standard motor yacht with a sportfish yacht to have entertaining space when you need it, and also fishing space when you need it.
  • SUV: a yacht that combines features of a standard motor yacht and sport yacht. See the Riviera 575 SUV to learn more about this emerging style of yacht.
  • Tri-Decks: a superyacht with three levels of staggered, enclosed living space.
  • Expedition Yachts: a large yacht with a deeper displacement hull for more stability and comfort during longer-range trips.

Read a few descriptions of yachts for sale and you’ll soon realize the boating community sometimes seems to have its own language. To accompany this roundup of yacht types, check out our Parts of a Boat post for more information, or jump right into checking out some of the models we at Van Isle Marina have for sale right now.

cleaning fish on a boat

Cleaning Fish on a Boat

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean a Fish While On Your Boat

It’s never the best part of the fishing experience, and it’s often a thankless task, but someone on board the boat has got to do it. We’re talking about cleaning your catch. Knowing how to clean a fish properly is something every fisherman should know how to do. It’s the first step in getting your fish to taste delicious, after all.

When do you need to clean your fish?

Try and clean your fish within an hour or two of catching it, or at the very least, on the day you catch it – this is true even if you are planning on freezing the fish eventually. If you’ll be out fishing for several days on your yacht, it will be important you have everything you need on board to easily clean your catch right there on the boat. Fortunately, you don’t need much to clean a fish.

Here’s our quick guide to cleaning a fish on board your boat:

To clean a fish, you’ll need a:

how to clean a fish on your boat

  • Sanitary work station
  • Dull butter knife, spoon or fork for removing scales
  • Sharp knife for gutting your fish
  • Bucket to collect your fish guts
  • Clean ice bucket to collect your clean fish
  • Newspaper or plastic lining (optional)
  • Clean running water
  • A fish or two worthy of getting your hands dirty

Cleaning a fish in 7 easy steps

Step 1: Bleed the Fish

A fish should be bled when you first catch it to preserve the flavour of the meat and to make for a cleaner gutting experience. To do so, make a shallow incision under the fish’s gills. Snap its head back, breaking the spinal cord, then thread a rope through its mouth and out the gills. Allow the fish to bleed out into the water. Put the fresh catch on ice. Keep it there until you’re ready for the next steps.

Step 2: Prepare Your Materials

Lay out some newspaper on your sanitized workspace to help absorb liquids spilling from the fish and onto the floor. Do your fish cleaning outdoors if possible as it’s going to get messy! Use gloves if you prefer and have them handy.

Have your bag or bucket nearby to collect the bones, fins, head, and guts of the fish.

Inspect your fish for signs of diseases, including spots, sores, wounds, and discolouration before proceeding.

Step 3: Remove Scales

Remove the scales from your cold fish using a dull knife, fork, or spoon. From the tail towards the head, use a raking motion working against the direction of the scales. Do both sides of the fish, as well as the top and bottom.

Don’t worry if you can’t remove all the scales (they are not harmful to consume) – just aim for most of them because they don’t taste very good.

If you’re dealing with a thick-skinned fish, consider skinning it instead of descaling. To do this, cut a 1-inch notch where the top of the fish’s head connects to its body. Grip the fish at the head and simply peel the skin down to the tail. Pliers might be needed if the skin is tough.

Step 4: Remove Guts

It’s time to gut your fish. To do so, cut a long, shallow incision along the belly of the fish from the anus to the base of the gills. The incision must be shallow, or you’ll nick the intestines, making them harder and much messier to remove.

Remove the fish guts from the abdominal cavity with your fingers or scoop them out with a spoon. We told you it wasn’t going to be fun! The guts should be easy to remove, albeit unpleasant. Don’t miss anything! There might be darker membranes remaining in certain types of fish. Be sure to scrape these out as well to prevent a strong flavour and aroma from making its way into your meal.

Step 5: Remove Fins and Head

Remove the head of the fish if you plan on doing so. Cut it off from directly behind the gills. Some people choose to leave the head on the fish, and in some cooking methods – for trout especially – the head adds flavour and depth to your dish.

Next, remove the dorsal fin at the bottom of the fish (also optional) by quickly pulling it firmly towards the head. Removing the dorsal fin, if done in a swift motion, removes many small bones from your fish. You can also just cut it off.

Dispose of your fish guts responsibly. The cleaning station at the marina should have disposal bins. If you’re out on the open ocean, toss the guts back in, but if you’re in a residential area/smaller lake, it’s best to wrap these up in the newspaper and dispose of them when you’re back on shore.

Step 6: Rinse or Wipe Down the Fish

Quickly rinse the fish in cold water – inside and out – specifically rinsing off any blood, sticky scales, and other random fish bits. There are no cleaning chemicals required here – just water ought to do it. However, don’t overdo it with the water, or else you end up washing away the flavour of the fish. If you prefer, you can gently wipe the fish with a paper towel rather than rinsing it.

Step 7: Cook Your Fishhow to clean fish on a boat - salmon

Depending on your preferred cooking method, you might have more prep work to do before you can cook your fish, like filleting or cutting it into steaks, and removing its backbone prior to cooking (if you’re not BBQing or baking it whole).

Either way, you’re done cleaning and are well on your way to enjoying your catch of the day!

For tips on how to hook the fish in the first place, check out our Lures or Bait debate.

And if you think it might be a while until you catch something, why not prepare a few meals ahead of time before setting sail? Board your boat with these 5 Make-Ahead Boating Meals to tide you over until your big catch.

At Van Isle Marina in Victoria, BC, we are a big boating community who know their fish. Looking for the best fishing boat to help you catch fish in more style and comfort? Check out some of the yachts we have available for sale. We specialize in new Back Cove, Riviera, and Belize motor yachts, in addition to the many pre-owned boats for sale at our marina.

boating licences - van isle marina

Boat Licence, Registration and Insurance

What Documentation Do I Need to Operate a Boat?

One of the common questions we get from prospective boat and yacht owners is, “Do I need a licence to operate a boat?”

The short answer is no, not in the spirit of having a driver’s licence, but you do need to demonstrate to the federal government that you are competent to operate your vessel.

Let’s take a closer look at the documentation that is required to own and operate a yacht-sized boat in Canada.

Proof of Competencypleasure craft operators card

To legally operate a powerboat or any motorized vessel in Canada, you must demonstrate to the federal government that you have a basic understanding of how to safely operate and navigate your vessel. This is called proof of competency.

A Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) is the most common way boaters show their proof of competency, but as per Transport Canada, there are other ways to show boating competency, such as:

  • proof of having passed a boating safety course in Canada before April 1, 1999;
  • a specified marine certificate; or
  • a completed rental boat safety checklist (good only for rental period).

A PCOC is not technically a licence, yet the boating community commonly refers to it as such. This card is good for life and can never be suspended or revoked.

You can get a PCOC relatively easy by taking an online boat safety course and exam provided by a Transport Canada-accredited company.

Note that there are no age restrictions to getting a PCOC – a person just needs to be old enough to pass the competency test.

Personal Identification

Along with your proof of competency, make sure you also bring your photo identification with you when you’re out boating. A PCOC or other form of safety certification doesn’t have your photo on it, so you will need a way to show law enforcement you are the same person as the person whose name is on your PCOC.

With your Pleasure Craft Operator Card and I.D. in tow, you can now operate a motorized vehicle in Canada. But you’ll likely need further documentation with you in order to get very far.

Pleasure Craft Licence

In Canada, a pleasure craft with a motor that exceeds 7.5 kW (10 hp) and is not registered must be licenced. No fee is required to get this licence. A pleasure craft licence is valid for 10 years and gives your vessel a unique licence number that you must stow on the boat as well as display on the bow. Because the numbers are used by Search and Rescue and other emergency personnel, the letters must be clearly visible and as far forward as possible on both sides of the bow.

Don’t forget to also licence any motorboats above 10 hp that you have with you in tow or on board, such as dinghies and lifeboats.

Getting a pleasure craft licence can be done online, or your yacht broker can help walk you through the process. If your boat does not need a pleasure craft licence, you can still choose to get one for safety reasons.

Transferring Pre-Owned Boat Licences

If you’re buying a used boat or yacht, you must transfer its licence number within 90 days. A yacht broker can also assist with this.

Proof of Ownership

If you plan to boat internationally, having proof of ownership on board is a must. A licenced vessel is not proof of ownership, so you’ll need to bring proof of ownership papers with you. Ask your yacht broker about what papers will work. You’ll also need proof of ownership for your dinghies or lifeboats. Not having the proper documents with you may result in trouble clearing customs.

Registering Your Boat or Yacht

In some cases, a boat or yacht can be registered instead of being licenced. Although you are no longer required to register a pleasure craft over 15 gross tons, you can choose to do so.

Why Register Your Yacht?motoryacht requiring pleasure craft operators card

There are many benefits to registering your yacht that simple licensing doesn’t cover:

  • proof of ownership (legal title) for your boat
  • an easier time traveling internationally
  • the right to fly the Canadian flag;
  • an official name and serial number to be displayed on your bow. Your boat’s name will potentially be seen by people around the world, so choose wisely!
  • the right to use your boat as security for a marine mortgage.

For more information about licensing or registering your boats, visit us at Van Isle Marina, or contact the Transport Canada Vessel Registration Office.

Captain’s Licence

If you’ll be charging passengers for their time on board, you’re entering the territory of non-pleasure craft operation and could end up requiring a captain’s licence. The qualifications, training, and technical knowledge required to become a captain vary considerably, usually depending on the size of your vessel and the number of passengers you’d ultimately be responsible for.

See Transport Canada’s Marine Personnel Regulations or call a Transport Canada office for more information.

Boat Insurance

Unlike cars, you’re not legally obligated to have boater’s insurance in order to operate. Although boat insurance should never, ever be skipped, it is not a legal requirement to be out on the water. However, most marinas will require you to have insurance in order to moor your boat.

Liquor Licence for Yachts

A liquor licence is not required for private vessel operators – they are your private property, after all. There are exceptions to this rule so it’s best to double check with your yacht broker who can go over the regulations with you depending on what you plan on using your yacht for. For example, chartered yacht operators who are renting their yacht to the general public must have a liquor licence to serve and charge passengers for alcohol. Remember that it’s always illegal to operate your vessel when you’re impaired by alcohol. 

Navigating Your Yacht’s Required Documentation

Located in Sidney, BC, Van Isle Marina is here to help our boat and yacht buyers in the Pacific Northwest navigate their new boat’s documentation requirements. It’s all part of the Van Isle Marina sales experience. Because having the right documents on your yacht leads to smoother sailing for everyone.

Van Isle Marina’s expert yacht sales brokers are available to answer any other questions you might have about yacht ownership. Contact us today or come and see us (and our yachts!) in person.

top 10 hiking destinations on south vancouver island

South Island Hiking Trails

Top 10 Hiking Destinations on Southern Vancouver Island

From North to South, Vancouver Island is covered in beautiful, well-maintained hiking trails for all skill levels. Below is a list of Van Isle Marina staff’s favourite hiking destinations on the Southern part of Vancouver Island – because sometimes you just need to get off the boat, go for a drive, and stretch your sea legs.

  1. Galloping Goose Trail

The Galloping Goose is a multi-use, 55-km trail connecting Victoria and Sooke. A former railroad line, this trail is popular with dog-walking locals, commuting cyclists, and outdoor enthusiasts from all around. Depending on your access point, you’ll pass tons of wilderness, waterways, rural farmland, and urban pathways.

See how to get to the Galloping Goose Trail 

  1. Thetis Lake Regional ParkThetis Lake Regional Park sign

Accessible via the Galloping Goose Trail, Thetis Lake Regional Park offers panoramic views of the lakes and surrounding hills, beaches, picnic spots, old growth trees, wild flowers, and hiking trails ranging from easy to expert. While there are plenty of trails allowing you to create your own route, you can also do the simple hike around the lake in 5 km. Expect tons of locals out for exercise on this trail.

See how to get to Thetis Lake Regional Park

  1. Mount Work Regional Park

At Mount Work Regional Park near Langford, enjoy three lakes, Dorrence, Fork, and Pease, and then consider hiking the Summit. The Mount Work summit trail is a steep 4.5 km hike more suitable for experienced hikers. Trail markers will help show you the way up what is at first a mossy, lush forest then a rockier viewpoint. An accessible loop trail is available at the Munn Road entrance.

See how to get to Mount Work Regional Park 

  1. Goldstream Provincial Park

Goldstream Provincial Park Falls on Malahat north of LangfordGoldstream Park is a must-see if you’re visiting south Vancouver Island and are looking for a massive park with plenty of amenities. Although it’s inland quite far, Goldstream has easy, wheelchair accessible trails, or more strenuous hikes. Some to check out are Arbutus Ridge, Arbutus Loop, Gold Mine, Prospector’s, and Lower or Upper Goldstream. At Goldstream Provincial Park, you’ll be surrounded by tall trees and close to waterfalls, a meandering river, a trestle bridge, a salmon run, an eagle centre, campsites, and much more. There’s even a gift shop and Visitor’s Center.

See how to get to Goldstream National Park 

  1. Mount Finlayson Hiking Trail

The Mount Finlayson Hiking Trail is a steep 4 km hike located in Goldstream Provincial Park offering scenic Olympic Mountain and Saanich Inlet views towards the Langford area. Many locals flock to this trail, especially on the weekends, so plan accordingly.

See how to get to Mount Finlayson Hiking Trail 

  1. Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

At Gowlland Tod Provincial Park you’ll find more than 25 km of hiking trails, including the Tod Inlet Trail, the Cascade Trail, the hike to Jocelyn Hill, and the McKenzie Bight Trail all among protected areas rich in biodiversity. This park covers almost the entire east side of Saanich Inlet, from Goldstream to Brentwood Bay and Butchart Gardens. The Cascade Trail is steep but includes the Cascade Falls, while the McKenzie Bight Trail includes a scenic beach area, and Tod Inlet will take you to see evidence of early-day pioneer settlements.

See how to get to Gowlland Tod Provincial Park

  1. Coast Trail

The Coast Trail near Sooke that runs alongside the rocky shoreline of the Juan de Fuca Strait offers impressive ocean and mountain views mixed with forested trails. You’ll also pass the Coast Salish First Nations petroglyphs at Alldridge Point. Head out to complete the entire Coast Trail in about eight hours one-way or choose the smaller portion of the trail at the south end of the park.

See how to get to the Coast Trail 

  1. John Dean Provincial Park

John Dean Provincial Park is on top of Mount Newton near the town of Sidney on the east coast of Vancouver Island overlooking the Saanich Peninsula, the Gulf Islands and the Cascade Mountains. Expect to find hiking trails for all skill levels here. You’ll also be among wildflowers, old-growth Douglas firs and Garry oaks, amazing sunset views, and flocks of wildlife at this day-use park.

See how to get to John Dean Provincial Park 

  1. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

No round-up of hiking trails on south Vancouver Island would be complete without a mention of Juan de Fuca Provincial Park on the Island’s west c

juan de fuca provincial park

oast. Easily accessible by boat, this massive park features four main areas: the 47-km Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, the China Beach day-use area, the China Beach Campground, and Botanical Beach. Along with natural wildlife and stunning views, this park features old growth forests, waterfalls, grottos,

tide pools, estuaries, and stunning rock formations. Multiple trailheads provide something for all skill levels. We recommend checking the provincial government’s website for service notices before heading out:

See how to get to Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

  1. Avatar Grove

The route to reach this hiking trail just north of Port Renfrew on Gordon River Main logging road has some twists and turns but it is worth it if you’re looking for something a little less populated than the hikes mentioned above. Home to massive old growth Douglas Firs and Canada’s “gnarliest” tree, Avatar Grove is a lesser-known destination hike on the Island.

See how to get to Avatar Grove  


No matter what type of hike you choose on Vancouver Island, make sure you pack the essentials (water, snacks and safety provisions!) and wear layered clothing and shoes suitable for the Island’s often wet, unpredictable weather.

Looking for hikes on other Gulf Islands? We’ve got you covered! Check out our post on our Top 5 Recommended Hikes on the Gulf Islands 

The above trails are just some of the fantastic hiking trails South Vancouver Island has to offer. We also have plenty of hiking recommendations for places only accessible by boat. Stay tuned to our blog or follow Van Isle Marina on Facebook or Twitter.

parts of a boat - boating terminology for beginners

Parts of a Boat

Parts of a Boat: Boating Terminology for Beginners

If you’re new to the boating community, familiarizing yourself with the different parts of a boat will help you talk the talk and ensure you set sail with confidence. Van Isle Marina has you covered with our handy beginner’s guide to the different parts of a boat. From the bow to the stern, and everything in between (the hull), know before you go!

  • Anchor: a large heavy object attached to a boat that is dropped into the water and attaches itself to the seabed to keep the boat in place when desired.
  • Awning: an often-retractable cover used to shield passengers from the weather.
  • Ballast: a large amount of weight (often lead) added to the boat used to better stabilize it.parts of a boat - boating terminology for beginners
  • Berth: the sleeping quarters of the boat.
  • Bilge: the lowest section of your yacht where water is collected, near the shower sump.
  • Bimini top: a canvas cover or similar used to occasionally shield passengers from the weather.
  • Bow: the entire front portion of the boat.
  • Bridge: the part of the boat where the controls are; the cockpit.
  • Bulkhead: a supportive structure between the bulk and the deck.
  • Cabin: private living quarters, usually below deck, where people sleep or otherwise spend time indoors.
  • Casting platform: an open area used to cast fishing rods.
  • Coaming: edging added to a cockpit to keep out water.
  • Console: a smaller area above a deck or cockpit offering guests more space to gather.
  • Deck: the part of the boat that is on top of the hull and an area where you can walk or work. It acts as a roof for the hull. Boats can have multiple decks (i.e. foredeck).
  • Dinghy: a smaller boat on board the larger boat uses to get to land easier or as a life-saving apparatus.
  • Fenders: parts made of plastic or rubber that act as a buffer between the boat and the dock or pier and other boats, protecting both from damage.
  • Foredeck: the front-most deck of the boat in boats that have multiple decks.
  • Flybridge: a steering station on specific models that is on top of the boat’s cabin. See the Riviera 57 Enclosed Flybridge as an example.
  • Galley: the kitchen area where food is prepared.
  • Gunnel/Gunwale: The edge running along the side of the boat, adding structure and strength to the vessel’s design.
  • Hatch:  an opening connecting the bottom of the boat with the deck. There can be many hatches on a boat. Moving down into the hatch is “going below” and moving up through the hatch is “going topside.”
  • Head: the bathroom on board.
  • Helm: the wheel used to steer the boat.
  • Hull: the body (shell) of the boat that encompasses other parts like the deck, bottom, and sides. The hull doesn’t include the rigging or mast of a sailing yacht.
  • Keel: a part of the hull, the keel is the primary middle beam running from the front (bow) to the back (stern). It is considered the foundation of a boat, ship, or yacht.
  • Jump seats: Space-saving small seats you can pop in and out of place in the cabin.
  • Lifeline: lines or cables that act as guard rails, preventing people or gear from falling overboard.
  • Line: a synonym for rope used in the boating world.
  • Mooring: a place where you can safely secure your boat, such as a marina (a dock, wharf, or pier).
  • Port: as you’re facing the bow, the port side of the boat is the entire left side.
  • Porthole: a window in the side of the boat, often circular.
  • Propellers: the blades of a motor that spin and propel the boat.
  • Rigging: the lines used to operate the sails, masts, and yards.
  • Rudder: a vertical appendage attached to the hull and submerged in the water to control steering.
  • Saloon: the primary dining area onboard.parts of a boat - dinghy
  • Scuppers:  drains on the deck used to spray incoming water from rain and waves overboard.
  • Starboard: as you’re facing the bow, the starboard side of the boat is the entire right side.
  • Stern: the back of the boat.
  • Superstructure: anything above the deck that is not the rigging is part of the boat’s superstructure.
  • Swim deck/platform: an area for swimming, located far away from the casting platform when a boat has both.
  • Tender: another name for a dinghy.
  • Thruster: located on the sides of ships and some yachts, thrusters are used to move the bow or stern sideways in either direction through the water without changing the vessel’s orientation.
  • Topside: the part of the hull that is not touching the water.
  • Underside: the part of the hull that is touching the water.

The above glossary includes the main parts of a boat, yet there are many more out there. However, this list is a good place to start if you’re thinking about embarking on the yachting lifestyle.

Van Isle Marina’s yachting experts will be happy to show you all the different parts of each boat you’re interested in at our marina. Check out the yachts we have for sale right now, or contact one of our yacht sales brokers to learn more about touring our marina and our new and used boats.