News, views, opinions and reviews from Van Isle Marina, one of the largest full service marinas in British Columbia.

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.

Boat Trailer Checklist PDF

Boat Trailer Checklist

Your Boat Trailer Will Always Be Ready to Go with This Easy Maintenance Guide

Boat trailer checklist from Van Isle Marina

For those who store their boat on dry land, or who might like to tow their boat to a favourite inland lake, the boat trailer is an essential piece of equipment. To properly tow and launch your boat, the trailer must be in excellent shape. That’s why we’ve created this checklist for the care and keeping of your boat trailer.


As with any vehicle, always check to make sure your trailer is legal and ready for the road.
  • Check to make sure registration is current
  • Check to make sure the boat load doesn’t exceed 85% of rated trailer capacity
  • Check to make sure the trailer plus boat load doesn’t exceed 85% of towing vehicle capacity

Physical Condition of Trailerboat trailer checklist PDF

Lubrication is key for a safe and secure trailer. When in doubt, have your trailer checked by a reputable professional.
  • Check for corrosion and broken welds
  • Check all rollers and pads for wear. Ensure proper support for the boat
  • Check and lubricate wheel bearings as needed
  • Check and lubricate winch as needed
  • Check tongue jack and wheel and lubricate as needed
  • Check tongue lock and lubricate as needed

Tires and Bearings

boat trailer checklist - tires

Trailer tires go from long trips on hot asphalt and backroads to cool water, making them prone to wear and cracking. Always check tires for wear periodically.
  • Inspect tire guard and fender
  • Check tire pressure
  • Check tire wear and ensure they have adequate tread > 1/4 inch
  • Check that lugs are properly tightened and lubricated
  • Check for a spare and ensure spare is road-ready
  • Check that bearings have been replaced within manufacturer guidelines

Trailer Hook Up

The ball, coupler, tie down straps and safety chains must always be completely secured to ensure safety on the road.
  • Check that the trailer ball matches coupler size and is securely engaged. The jack should not be able to lift the coupler off the ball
  • Check that the trailer ball is properly torqued
  • Check that the ball mount is secure in the receiver tube with either a hitch pin or lock
  • Check that the coupler latch is locked and secure via hitch pin or lock
  • Check that the trailer jack is fully retracted
  • Check that safety chains are hooked up and crisscrossed beneath the coupler. This will keep the coupler from hitting the road in case of an accident
  • Check that all tie down straps are in good shape and secured

boat trailer checklist - hook up

Trailer Brakes

boat trailer checklist - brake lights

If your trailer is equipped with brakes, you’ll need to check the brake fluid as often as you’d check the brake fluid levels on your main vehicle.
  • Check brake lines from actuator to brake clusters
  • Check brake fluid level
  • Check for proper operation when connected to the towing vehicle
  • Check running lights on vehicle and trailer
  • Check brake lights on vehicle and trailer

Electronics and Connections

It’s essential that the trailer lights and electronics are working properly. Take a few moments at the start of every trip to ensure your turn signals and running lights are operating.
  • Check condition of wiring for corrosion, cuts, etc.
  • Check that grounding circuit is properly attached
  • Check wire harness and tow vehicle socket
  • Check that the electrical plug is secure and firmly in the vehicle’s socket
  • Check turn signals on vehicle and trailer
  • Check that the breakaway switch cable is securely attached to vehicle
  • Check that break control is working and adjusted to the trailer’s weight

To make sure your trailer is in top-notch condition, always take the time to give your trailer a thorough check. This is particularly important at the beginning, middle and end of the season, or after a long trip. Lastly, always raise your boat engine and ensure all your onboard gear is secure before you drive away. Doing this basic check will give you the peace of mind to tow and launch your boat with confidence.

At Van Isle Marina, we provide completely secure moorage with annual, monthly and guest options. Conveniently located in sunny Sidney, BC, we’re just a quick cruise away from a variety of fantastic destinations. With amenities like storage lockers, car parking, and a full-service marine fueling station and dock store, you’ll find everything you’ll need to start and end your trip. Come down and see us, or request services/moorage information at (250) 656-1138 or by email.

Boating in Barkley Sound

Boating in Barkley Sound

Cruising, Fishing and Anchorages in The Barkley Sound

For any boater who is also into fishing, kayaking and exploring, Barkley Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island is a must-see.

Barkley Sound is an 800 square km area between Bamfield and Ucluelet, including the entrance to the Alberni inlet. Set within the Pacific Rim National Park area, it’s a popular tourist destination thanks to its top-class fishing opportunities, hundreds of islands to explore and friendly, small communities to visit. 

Boaters can cruise the area, exploring islands, inlets and nooks, diving or fishing for salmon and halibut.  

To access the Barkley Sound area, the best options for putting in are Ucluelet, Bamfield Inlet or even Port Alberni. Keep in mind that setting off from Port Alberni is a much longer route, requiring a 60km sail down the Alberni Inlet to reach the Barkley Sound. 

There are numerous options for moorage throughout the Barkley Sound, although many boaters prefer the freedom of anchoring up amongst the islands and exploring from there by dinghy or kayak.

Things To Do In Barkley Sound 

Explore the Broken Group IslandsBroken Group Islands

The Broken Group Islands, situated to the southeast of Ucluelet, is made of numerous small islands, channels and inlets which are just begging to be explored. Very popular with kayakers who participate in multi-day paddles in the area, the waters can definitely get busy in the summer. 

The best way to explore the Broken Group Islands is to anchor up and take a dinghy or kayak around and between the islands where you can investigate coves. You can also pull up onto one of many sandy beaches for a secluded picnic.

The bay at Turtle Island provides sheltered water to anchor up before settling down to watch a spectacular sunset.

Effingham Bay, on Effingham Island, one of the largest islands in the Broken Group, is considered to have the best big boat anchorage in the area. The southeast corner of the bay is well protected, except during periods of strong westerly winds. Effingham is an interesting island to explore, with beaches, remains of a village and a sea cave on the island’s east side.

Lucky Creek, Vancouver Island

Find the waterfall at Lucky Creek

Lucky Creek is a 3km long river with a waterfall at its endpoint. Located east of Refuge Island, Lucky Creek is tidal and can be impassible at low tide, so make sure you check the tide times before heading upriver in your dinghy. When you reach the end of the creek, a short climb over some rocks reveals the waterfall and bathing pools, if you are brave enough to face the cool water.

Watch Marine Wildlife

Port Alberni Wildlife - whale watching

Marine wildlife is abundant in the Barkley Sound. The ocean itself teems with orcas, humpback whales, the imperial eagle porpoises, sea lions, seals and sea otters, many of which you’ll encounter while cruising the waters around the islands.

On the coast, you may see black bears roaming the shoreline depending on the time of year, and don’t forget to look up to sight the majestic bald eagles, which are as attracted by the fish in the area as humans are.

If you are lucky enough to spot a whale while sailing around Vancouver Island, remember to follow the regulations regarding safe marine mammal viewing.

Barkley Sound Lodge, Vancouver Island

Fishing in Barkley Sound

Barkley Sound is a fishing lover’s dream. Year-round, salmon, halibut and lingcod fishing draws anglers from far and wide to come and make their big catch of the day. There are a number of fishing charters and lodges in the area that can guide you to the prime fishing grounds and even prepare your catch afterwards.

Moorage Sites in Barkley Sound

If anchoring up around one of the many islands in Barkley sound isn’t for you, or you are looking for some other services where you moor, consider some of these options:

  • Island West Resort in Ucluelet offers short term moorage options as well as fishing charters and has a pub onsite.
  • Mills Landing Cottages and Charters in Bamfield offersMills Landing, Vancouver Island more than just moorage. For those interested in fishing, Mills Landing can supply everything you need from bait to a cleaning station and their guides can even point you to the best fishing spots. Wildlife viewing tours are also available here if you want to take a break from sailing for a day.
  • Barkley Sound Lodge located in a secluded inlet in the centre of the Sound, offers a chance to anchor in true wilderness, yet still experience a modern and elegant resort. Enjoy a night off the water with one of their packages including lodge accommodation, fishing excursions and meals.
  • Poet Nook Marina which is situated north east of Bamfield, near the Alberni Inlet entrance, is a 140 vessel, state of the art marina, which makes a great base for exploring the sound.

Explore Barkley Sound in a Brand New Boat From Van Isle Marina

Barkley Sound is just one of many incredible places to explore and enjoy nature at its finest. Looking for the perfect boat to make your adventure travel dreams come true? Van Isle Marina is the exclusive dealer in western Canada for world-class Pursuit Boats. Something different in mind? Our sales brokers will work closely with you to understand your specific needs and budget and find you the perfect new or used boat. Take a peek at some of the current sales listings and contact us to set up a viewing appointment today.

If you’re trading up, you can keep it simple by relying on Van Isle Marina’s team to market your boat for sale. National and International buyers are attracted to our unparalleled marina, which offers short and long moorage options in our 500 berths near sunny Sidney, BC.

Bow and Stern Anchoring Best Practices

Bow and Stern Anchoring Best Practices

How to Set Two Anchors

Knowing a variety of stern and bow tying and anchoring techniques is essential for any boater’s toolkit. Here on the West Coast of Canada, we have such a wide variety of anchorages. Knowing which anchoring technique to use will come in handy many times over and bow and stern anchoring is one of the best since it’s so versatile.

When to Use Bow & Stern Anchoring

  • Anchoring in small bays
  • For mooring, if required
  • Anchoring at the narrow edge of channels
  • Anchoring in busy areas
  • Anchoring in soft ground
  • Anchoring amid shifting currents and tides
  • Anchoring right over a great fishing spot
  • Anchoring in a storm situation
  • Anchoring at an angle that protects your boat from rolling waves

For best results when using a bow and stern anchoring technique, make sure you get plenty of practice in sheltered waters. This way, you can deploy and retrieve both anchors and cruise away in just a few simple steps. At the same time, brush up on your knot tying skills with our guide to 9 easy knots for boating.

On the West Coast of BC, we’re so lucky to have our pick of spectacular anchorages all the way around the Vancouver Island. For areas with high winds and strong currents, like Cape Scott through to Quatsino Sound, we highly recommend using the bow and stern anchoring technique. This is also an excellent technique for a calmer but tight anchorage like Telegraph Harbour, just off Chemainus. Dual anchoring techniques can also make it possible for you to sail or cruise to areas you’d only dreamed of. In fact, having a boat and knowing how to best operate it is like having a pass to some of the most exclusive and secluded destinations.

Prepare your Primary and Secondary Anchors and Lines

Find a calm space away from other traffic on the water and get your stern anchor and lines ready, making sure knots are securely tied.

  1. Attach a buoy and trip line using a hitch knot or anchor knot (optional) to your stern anchor’s trip line hole. A trip line and buoy allow other boaters to clearly see that you have an anchor out.
  2. Load the anchor and line into your dinghy, making sure your line is tied securely to the boat or through a fairlead and winch if you have them.

Anchors Aweigh

  1. Facing the wind, set your primary anchor.
  2. Slowly back away, paying out extra line.
  3. Next, you or the skipper will board the dinghy and get the stern anchor ready. Refresh your knowledge on dinghy and tender safety.
  4. Drop the stern anchor behind the boat on either the port or starboard side. You’ll want to angle your boat at 15 degrees off the windward swell (on a diagonal).
  5. Drop the stern anchor from the dinghy with a scope of minimum 5:1. This means you’ll want to anchor at 5 feet for every 1 foot of water depth.
  • If you’re anchoring overnight, aim for at least a 7:1 scope. To increase length, you can add chain to the lines. Add at least 20 feet of anchor chain for best results, especially in strong winds. If there isn’t enough room to let out as much rope as you need for a good scope, you can also use a kellet for extra weight. The kellet should be placed on the mid-line of the rope. This will help to keep your anchor rode nice and horizontal in the water, keeping the boat in position.
  1. Take in the slack for the stern anchor and set it.
  2. Moving back to your primary anchor, adjust the scope as needed, making sure to pay out enough line for the secondary anchor. When you’re done, both the bow and stern anchors should be tight.

Retrieving your Anchors

  1. When you’re ready to keep moving, make sure your engines are ready and willing.
  2. Create some slack in your stern anchor line.
  • If you used a tripping line and buoy, take the dinghy out to haul up the anchor. If you didn’t use a buoy and tripping line, give the bow line slack. Then move the boat back to the stern anchor drop point. Haul the anchor just like you would for your primary anchor.
  1. Bring your stern anchor and rode onto the boat and stow them safely.
  2. Secure the dinghy
  3. Haul in your primary anchor as you normally would and head out!

The stern and bow anchor technique takes some finesse. Be sure to practice it regularly to keep your skills sharp for when you want to anchor in a small bay or inlet. Also always make sure that you have the right anchor and ground tackle for the size of the boat and wind conditions. This is known as holding power.

For instance, a 25 foot yacht in winds of 30 knots would require holding power of 490. If this boat were using an anchor made for lighter wind conditions and a smaller boat, you’d run the risk of damaging your equipment and losing the anchor.

Our team at Van Isle Marina know that your boat is your baby, so if you have any questions or concerns about the right anchor for your yacht, check out our two-part series on anchors and anchoring or contact us for help.

Part One- Types of Anchors

Part Two- Anchoring Your Boat

Are you looking for the perfect boat to make this summer unforgettable? Come and see us at Van Isle Marina where we have a fantastic selection to choose from, plus a large (and growing!) selection of luxury Pursuit Boats. Fully loaded with everything to make lifelong memories on the water, Pursuit Boats are made in the USA and built with world-class features and amenities. Browse our new and used boat listings, then contact our expert yacht broker, to find your new boat today.

Dickinson at Dunkirk – by Mark Dickinson

My father was a participant in one of the most memorable triumphs of twentieth century history: The Evacuation of Dunkirk.

The Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo and also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War Two from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk in the north  of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. The operation commenced after large numbers of Belgian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the six-week Battle of France. In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this “a colossal military disaster”, saying “the whole root and core and brain of the British Army” had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his “We shall fight on the beaches” speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue as a “miracle of deliverance”.

After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, France and the British Empire declared war on Germany and imposed an economic blockade. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to help defend France. After the Phoney War of October 1939 to April 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, and France on 10 May 1940. Three panzer corps attacked through the Ardennes and drove northwest to the English Channel. By 21 May, German forces had trapped the BEF, the remains of the Belgian forces, and three French field armies along the northern coast of France. The BEF commander immediately saw evacuation across the Channel as the best course of action, and began planning a withdrawal to Dunkirk, the closest good port.

Late on 23 May, a halt order was issued by the German commander. Adolf Hitler approved this order the next day, and had the German High Command sent confirmation to the front. Attacking the trapped BEF, French, and Belgian armies was left to the Luftwaffe until the order was rescinded on 26 May. This gave Allied forces time to construct defensive works and pull back large numbers of troops to fight the Battle of Dunkirk. From 28 to 31 May, the remaining 40,000 men of the French First Army fought a delaying action against seven German divisions, including three armoured divisions.

On the first day only 7,669 Allied soldiers were evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day, 338,226 had been rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 vessels. Many troops were able to embark from the harbour’s protective mole onto 39 British Royal Navy destroyers, four Royal Canadian Navy destroyers, at least three French Navy destroyers, and a variety of civilian merchant ships. Others had to wade out from the beaches, waiting for hours in shoulder-deep water. Some were ferried to the larger ships by what became known as the Little Ships of Dunkirk, a flotilla of hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, yachts, and lifeboats called into service from Britain. The BEF lost 68,000 soldiers during the French campaign and had to abandon nearly all of its tanks, vehicles, and equipment. In his 4 June speech, Churchill also reminded the country that “we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

After his school years and one year sailing around the world in a four-masted square-rigger, my father worked as a “land manager” (whatever that was). In the late 1930’s he joined the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and when war broke out with Germany in 1939 he joined the Royal Navy as a sub lieutenant. During the war he rose in the ranks to Lieutenant Commander in charge of a flotilla of minesweepers. But when the evacuation of Dunkirk took place he was seconded from the Royal Navy back to the RNLI. He played an active role in the evacuation. On his first trip to the beaches he was second in command of an RNLI vessel which was captained by a person my father suggested to me was a coward. The task was to reach the beach, load with evacuees and then return to England. My father told me that enroute, the cowardly skipper ran the boat through many, many soldiers perishing in the water and refused to stop to pick them up. My father was disgusted. On his next trips into Dunkirk he was in command and he did the job properly.

Here is an account, word for word, of his exploits as written in “Storm on the Waters”, the story of the lifeboat service in the war of 1939-1945, by Charles Vince, published in October, 1946.

One of the inspectors of the Life-boat Service, now in the Navy, Sub-Lieutenant Stephen Dickinson, found himself in command of the Southwold life-boat. He had already made two trips to Dunkirk, and on Saturday, the 1st of June, he went over for the third time on board a paddle-steamer, the Emperor of India. She had the life-boat and two other boats in tow. At eleven that night she anchored off Dunkirk, and Mr. Dickinson was sent ashore in the life-boat towing two of the ship’s boats. High explosive shells and shrapnel were bursting all along the beach, and it was empty of troops. They were sheltering in the town.

The first lieutenant of the Emperor of India landed and went in search of them, while the three boats waited in the surf under fire. They waited for two hours. It was one in the morning when the men arrived and in two journeys the life-boat, and the two ship’s boats in tow of her, brought off 160 men. Shortly before dawn the commander of the Emperor of India decided to return to Dover, but Mr. Dickinson remained with the Southwold life-boat, went to shore for the third time, and took on board his third load of fifty men. It was now dangerously near dawn. He tried to push the life-boat off the beach, but she was fast. He tried again; still she would not move. Then a soldier in her bows called out, “Hoi, mister, you’re pushing against a lorry”. It must have been run out into the sea to make a pier until it was almost submerged and the life-boat had missed it unseen in the darkness. She worked clear of it, unloaded her fifty men on to a ship and returned for the fourth time, but her engine stopped and could not be restarted . It was now day and she was helpless on the beach, but the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston life-boat, making for England with troops on board, came within hail and took off her crew. That afternoon the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston life-boat arrived at Dover, and there Mr. Dickinson had some sleep, the first for several days. Next morning – it was now Monday the 3rd of June – he volunteered for another trip, and got from Commander Upton the Shoreham Harbour life-boat. He led a marauding party round the dockyard, found a large sheet of steel, which he fastened behind the steering wheel, built a screen of fenders on either side, and with his helmsman so protected, and a white ensign almost as large as the boat herself at his masthead, was about to sail on his fourth journey when he was stopped. The shelling was now reported to be so heavy on the beaches that boats were forbidden to go across.

For his actions at Dunkirk my father was Mentioned in Dispatches, a fairly notable and distinguished honour. To be mentioned in dispatches describes a member of the Royal Navy whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which their gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy is described.

The white ensign, the official flag of the Royal Navy, noted above was the same one he had flown during his previous trips into Dunkirk. We still have that flag. It was draped over my father’s coffin prior to his cremation, and it is now stored in my office.

My father played a role in another very significant and historic event, D Day, the Normandy landings in June 1944. He went in on D Plus One, in other words June 7th, to sweep for mines off the beaches of Normandy. And that is all I know about that episode.

There may well be other pieces of History in which members of the family played a part, but I am not aware of them.

Van Isle Marina was purchased by Stephen and Esther Dickinson in 1955. In 1970, Stephen and Esther had a 41-foot ketch, Kapduva, built in Hong Kong, and they spent the next 12 years sailing around the world before they settled into a more sedate retirement on Saltspring Island.

De-Winterizing Your Boat

De-Winterizing Your Boat Checklist

Spring Maintenance Checklist for Your Boat


Spring is here and you’re more than ready to get back out on the water. There are a few key things you’re going to need to take care of first though, to make sure that your boat is ready for the inaugural trip. Not only will properly de-winterizing your boat ensure that everything’s in good working order, it will help extend the life of the boat.

If your boat has been in dry storage for the winter, it’s a good idea to check your trailer first. This 10-minute check will let you move your boat back to the water with confidence. Most importantly, check the renewal date for your boating and fishing / crabbing licenses and make sure any required decals are easily visible.


To safely transport your boat back to the water, the trailer and tires need to be road-ready.

  • Check trailer tires for pressure, any cracking, or inadequate tread. Replace tires if they’re older than 3-5 years.
  • Check tongue latch and coupling
  • Check trailer brake fluid level
  • Check trailer lights and replace as needed
  • Test the rollers
  • Check the padding where the hull rests

Anchors, Lines and Ropes

All mooring and anchoring equipment should be clean and ready to go. It’s always a good idea to purchase new line before the start of the season.

  • Spring Boating Checklist - RopeCheck that you have enough rope to launch and tie your boat
  • Check that you have enough rope to secure your boat in at least two areas
  • Check all knots for anchors and hardware
  • Check for any damaged or tangled line or rope
  • Make sure any bumpers are in the boat

Belts, Cables and Hoses

Check for wear and tear and consult a boat mechanic if you have any concerns.

  • Check for cracks and brittle areas
  • Check for wear on belts
  • Check the outer layer of control cables. Any cracking or swelling can be signs of a problem


As boaters, we rely heavily on electrical equipment for a safe and comfortable experience. Go through each of the electrical components on your boat to make sure everything’s in good working order.

  • Check all connections for corrosion and cleanliness
  • Remove battery terminals, clean connections with wire brushDe-Winterization of your Boat Checklist - Helm
  • 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 or air conditioner on hot and cold

Engine and Fuel System

The heart of your boat, you won’t get very far without the engine! We recommend a regular inspection by a trained boat technician, ideally at the start and end of the boating season.

  • Check transom mounts (outboard)
  • Check for any smoke
  • Check transmission
  • Check levers on every seacock
  • Check raw water intake and strainer
  • Inspect connections, hoses and tanks for damage or leaks
  • Replace spark plugs and other components as needed
  • Check that all clamps and fittings are tight
  • Check that exhaust, engine and ventilation systems are working well

Fluid Levels

Topped-up fluids will keep your engine and steering column going strong. Replace any expired fluids and top up everything else as needed.

  • Check coolant
  • Check engine oil
  • Check power steering fluid
  • Check power trim reservoirs
  • Check coolant levels
  • Change engine oil, filter and drive lubricants as needed

Hull and Exterior

The key to prolonging the life of your boat, the hull should be kept clean and waxed, with any damage taken care of right away.Spring Checklist for your boat - Hull

  • Check hull for blisters, distortions and cracks
  • Clean the hull, deck and topsides
  • Check that the drain plug is secure *Put a backup drain plug somewhere safe on board
  • Check for cracks or damage around fittings
  • Check for damage on or around the hatches
  • Check upholstery for any mold / mildew / tears
  • Check the livewells


The living space and head are a cozy place to crash at the end of a busy day of fishing and water sports. Take a few minutes to check lighting, appliances and water, to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

  • Check for water pressure and quality
  • Check for damage to doors and portholes
  • Check lights and switchesboat spring checklist - interior
  • Check for leaks in fridge
  • Check temperature in fridge / freezer
  • Test the appliances
  • Check lights and switches
  • Check TV, speakers and any other extras


A damaged propeller can’t work as efficiently as an undamaged one. If you see any marks or chips / dings that are concerning, talk to a pro about repair or replacement.

  • Check propellers for any damage
  • Make sure propeller is secure and replace bearings if needed

Safety Equipment and Gear

Up-to-date safety equipment is a huge part of any vessel. We recommend booking a safety inspection by the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (CPS-ECP) if available.

  • Check the flares
  • Check marine radio
  • Check condition of heaving line and lifebuoy(s)
  • Check condition of first aid kit
  • Check life jackets and replace any expired jackets
  • Check the fire extinguishers. Replace if expired
  • Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Replace batteries

Water System

For washing up and drinking, clean water is essential.

  • If you added antifreeze, flush it out now
  • Empty the grey and black tanks
  • Refill the fresh-water tank

Clean the Boat

Give your boat a good spring clean to get it off to the best possible start this season.De-winterizing your boat checklist - Cleaning

  • Clean the hull, scrubbing away any rusty spots or fuel drips
  • Scrub any areas where mold may have started over the winter
  • Clean the carpets and vacuum any debris
  • Wash the windows
  • Disinfect hard and soft surfaces using a gentle spray solution
  • Spray a fabric protector on any vinyl to block harsh UV light

At Van Isle Marina, we offer moorage with annual, monthly and guest options. Conveniently located in sunny Sidney, BC on the Haro Strait, we’re just a quick cruise away from a variety of fantastic destinations. With amenities like storage lockers, car parking, and a full-service marine fueling station and dock store, you’ll find everything you could need to start and end your trip. Are you as excited for the summer boating season as we are? Come down and see us, or request services/moorage information by calling (250) 656-1138 or via email.