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


12 Things to Do on Your Riviera 64 Sports Motor Yacht

The new 64 Sports Motor Yacht Model from Riviera is set to premiere in 2020

At Van Isle Marina, we are extremely excited and looking forward to the launch of the newest yacht from Riviera – the 64 Sports Motor Yacht, debuting in 2020.

The 64 Sports Motor Yacht is the latest addition to Riviera’s long range cruising family, featuring the collection’s signature spacious cockpit, sporty looks, and sporting performance. The model’s incredible hull was designed in partnership with esteemed naval architects, Mulder Design of the Netherlands, who have created some of the world’s fastest super yachts, so we have a strong feeling this yacht is going to exceed all expectations.Riviera 64 Sports Motor Yacht

In addition to your four entertainment areas onboard, including the impressive mezzanine and cockpit, saloon, enclosed flybridge, and foredeck, the 64’ gives you the choice of three or four staterooms and the option of an aft crew cabin or extra storage space.

With so many of the luxurious features that Riviera is known for also on board, you and your loved ones will be able to enjoy all of your favourite yachting activities in comfort and class. While the number of things you will be able to do on board your new 64’ is virtually limitless, here are our top 12 suggestions.

1. Reel in a Big One

The 64’ Sports Motor Yacht from Riviera is an angler’s dream with its large self-draining cockpit, eight rod holders on the aft rail, and an enormous amount of storage space for your tackle and daily catches. There are large tackle lockers in the transom, more lockers in the side coaming, and deep fish bins in the floor.

For the more serious fishermen, an optional live bait tank can be plumbed right into the transom in lieu of the standard wet locker.

2. Go for a Swim

Enjoy the large swimming platform off the back of your yacht after dropping anchor near or far from the shoreline. The wide and deep boarding and swimming platform comes with an inbuilt swim ladder, making swimming off the back of your yacht a breeze. Just add some floaties and you’re good to go!

Remember to always keep an eye on the children onboard, wear waterproof sunscreen, and encourage wearing life jackets.

3. Prepare Home-cooked Meals

Whether it’s in your thoughtfully laid-out gourmet galley, or outdoors grilling up the catch of the day in the BBQ centre, cooking onboard the 64’ Sports Motor Yacht will be just like cooking at home, or better!

Cook up a huge feast for all your guests in your C-shaped kitchen equipped with a full-height refrigerator with two freezer drawers, a three-burner electric cooktop, twin sinks, dishwasher, and microwave convection oven.

The triangular working area is so efficiently set up on this model and the nearby saloon means plenty of room for you to socialize with guests while preparing the dinner.

4. Day Trip the Beach

front of the 64 riviera sports motor yachtWhile cruising up and down the coastlines, why not head back to shore for a few hours? Doing so is easy using your 3.6-metre tender with 50hp jet. Simply launch it via a low-profile davit from your foredeck.

Stuck on where to go? From Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC – where you will be acquainted with your new yacht as soon as she arrives from Australia – head north to any of our favourite boat-only destinations on and around Vancouver Island.

From any of our spectacular beaches, you can go for a hike, do some birdwatching, and simply appreciate the beautiful nature all around you.

5. Watersports

The 64’ Sports Motor Yacht is designed for the ultimate mix of watersports by delivering a ton of storage space for your water toys, including your stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and snorkelling and diving equipment.

6. Whale Watching

Watch for whales from practically anywhere on your yacht, but especially the foredeck, where there is a large lounge area and ample leg room for all. Don’t forget the binoculars and a camera to take photos or videos!

7. Cool Off

Life on a yacht typically means a lot of time spent outdoors. After eating breakfast, followed by hours in the sun, at the end of the day you’re likely to want a place to cool off.

Not to worry, the 64’ allows plenty of shelter from the sun, while still allowing you to view the outdoors with the one-way-vision glass panels extending from the cabin superstructure.

Additionally, the mezzanine can be enclosed and the air-conditioning cranked for maximum cooling comfort when you’re craving the cold. You can find similar relief in any of the staterooms.

8. Cocktail Party

Turn your cockpit into a cocktail party easily enough with the nearby wet bar that includes a 190-litre refrigerator, 100-litre icebox, and sink.

An adjacent BBQ centre with twin barbecue plates and fibreglass benchtop ensure there’s enough space to prepare appetizers to go with the cocktails. The conversation will soon be flowing around the folding feature teak  table.

If it’s wine you would rather, choose something from your 27-bottle wine fridge within your galley – where there is also a glass storage area.

9. Host a Child’s Birthday Party

Be the coolest mom, dad, or grandparent around by hosting your child or grandchild’s birthday party on board your yacht this year. We believe it will be one of the most memorable parties they’ve ever had!

After an afternoon of fun in the sun, there’s plenty enough room to keep everyone together for games and snacks with the galley, foredeck, or mezzanine. You’ll be able to keep an eye on everyone from the saloon. For supervising the littles ones, there is plush seating for four or five guests on the port side of the saloon, along with three director’s chairs and more seating at the starboard-side dinette.

64 sports motor yacht

10. Retreat to Relaxation

After a long day enjoying the water, head up to the enclosed flybridge to your first-class lounge where you can sit back, relax, and marvel at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastlines all around you. When you’re ready to tune-out completely, you can do so with your favourite show or sports team on the flybridge’s large flat screen TV – which is just one of a few TVs onboard.

11. Go Bluewater Cruising

The Riviera 64’ Sports Motor Yacht is designed for some serious bluewater cruising, with a massive 22.5kW genset, 6500-litre fuel tank capacity, and standard twin MAN V8 1300hp (970 kW) diesels.

And did we say storage? On top of the storage mentioned in the cockpit, the staterooms offer 9 storage areas in total, while the foredeck offers heaps more storage space so you’ll be able to store everything you need for weeks and months out on the open water.

For safety’s sake, take comfort in the model’s life raft and safety cell, which are housed at the rear of the bridge.

12. Do Your Laundry & Sleep Soundly

If you’ll be yachting for extended periods – just what the 64’ Sports Motor Yacht is designed for – you’ll appreciate the model’s large laundry closet with separate washer and dryer.

Exhausted from a day outdoors, when you retire for the evening, you’ll find the accommodations onboard the 64’ to be spacious, luxurious, and comfortable. You’ll feel so well rested after being lulled to sleep in your full-beam master stateroom complete with a central king-sized bed with plush headboard.

You’ll also appreciate the comfort of the room’s lush carpet, elegant LED lighting overhead, bedside tables, 40-inch LED TV, and large hull picture windows. Your guests are also sure to sleep well in their VIP guest stateroom with a queen-sized bed or the additional guest stateroom with two adult-sized single beds.

To learn more about this exciting new model, contact our yacht brokers at 250.656.1138.

Read More:

More Information on the Riviera Sports Motor Yacht Collection

With the addition of the 64’ coming in 2020, the Riviera Sports Motor Yacht Line is now up to four models. The new 64’ fits nicely in between the 68 Sports Motor Yacht, which debuted in 2017, and the 72 Sports Motor Yacht, which debuted in 2018, giving new owners a more mid-size option.

So why add to the line? Riviera saw plenty of success with its earlier Sports Motor Yacht models, and the 64’ is already garnering plenty of interest worldwide.

“The Sports Motor Yacht philosophy has been well embraced the world over, with over 20 yachts purchased by owners in Europe, the Americas, New Zealand and Australia over the past 18 months,” stated Rodney Longhurst, Riviera Australia owner, in a press release. “Our highly experienced international design team has risen to the challenge of optimizing the onboard space, ensuring the yacht offers beauty, amenity and functionality,” he adds.

As with all Riviera models, this newest addition also has a glass cockpit, touchscreen displays, fingertip joystick control, electric steering, and state of the art electronic and engine systems. You won’t believe how incredibly fun and easy to operate Riviera Sports Motor Yachts can be!

Additional Riviera Collections

In addition to the Sports Motor Yacht collection, Riviera offers models in the Open and Enclosed Flybridge Collections, the Sports Yacht Collection, and the SUV Collection. As Western Canada’s exclusive authorized dealer of Riviera Australia’s luxury motor yachts, Van Isle Marina’s yacht brokers would be pleased to match you with the best Riviera yacht to suit your needs.

Find more information on each of Riviera yachts on our website, or contact one of our Yacht Sales Brokers, at 250.656.1138. You can also come to Sidney, BC to see us in person. We look forward to showing you our boats!


Types of Trout in British Columbia Waters

Kinds of Trout in BC Waters

Types of Trout You’ll Find in Waters Around British Columbia

With so many species of fish to fish for in BC waters, there is something to catch at practically anytime of year. In addition to pacific salmon, another extremely popular fish that draws anglers to our region is trout. You’ll find this post on the different types of trout helpful if you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, or if you are a local who just wants to freshen up on your familiarity of the main types of trout in British Columbia.

What Makes a Trout a Trout?

“Trout” is a common name for several different species of freshwater fish that belong  to the genera Oncorhynchus, Salmo, and Salvelinus. These genera are members of the sub-family Salmoninae (of the family Salmonidae).

How are Trout and Salmon Different?

Trout and salmon are closely related – so much so that some anglers and scientists have difficulties classifying each individual species. To the untrained eye, a trout can resemble a salmon and vice versa. As such, some anglers refer to trout as salmon, which isn’t technically wrong, but generally in the fishing community, a trout is a trout and a salmon is a salmon (a salmon being 1 of the 5 pacific salmon native to BC waters).

However, there is still an ongoing debate among some fishermen on whether steelhead are salmon or not, due to them having similar migration patterns to saltwater – unlike the other trout, most of which are freshwater fish. Just like salmon, there are certain species of trout native to the BC region.

Salmon and trout have many similarities – they are both considered oily fish, they are both regulated in BC, and they both taste great, with trout being slightly bonier and often being cooked whole. And they are all a joy to catch! Because salmon and trout are so similar, anglers are happy catching either one when out on the lake or river.

Salmon vs. Trout – Visual Differences

Salmon and trout look similar, but there are key differences, mainly:

  1. The tail of a trout is square, or slightly convex, rather than concave, like that of a salmon.
  2. A trout has a large number of markings below its lateral line, whereas a salmon has very few.
  3. A trout has a wide tail base, with no noticeable wrist, while a salmon’s tail base in narrow and has a noticeable wrist.

Another way to tell the difference between salmon and trout is by counting the rays on the anal fin. Trout have 12 or less rays, while salmon have 13+

Different Types of Trout

trout in bc waters - rainbow troutRainbow Trout are among the most popular target species for recreational freshwater anglers. Several lakes across BC are regularly and heavily stocked with rainbow trout for this reason. They can be caught year-round in streams, lakes, and estuaries. They taste great and are a source of pride to catch given that they can be aggressive, strong feeders.

Rainbow trout come in all sizes, shapes, and colours, and weigh anywhere from 1 to 10 lbs. They are generally characterized by the small spots on the dorsal section, usually above the lateral line, and their bold red stripe running the length of their body. There are four strains of rainbow trout cultured at hatcheries in BC: Fraser Valley, Pennask, Blackwater, and Gerrard rainbow trout.


Trout in British Columbia Waters - Steelhead Trout

Steelhead Trout are actually sea-run rainbow trout popular for their size, strength, speed, and stamina. These larger, anadromous rainbow trout can weigh anywhere from 5-25 lbs. when returning from the ocean. There are both winter-run steelhead and summer-run steelhead characterized by their elongated, metallic silver bodies during their ocean phase.

They have small black spots along their back above the lateral line and square tails. Historically, steelhead trout were called steelhead salmon or salmon trout.


Trout around BC - Cutthroat TroutCoastal Cutthroat Trout or “coastal cutties” have blue or greenish backs, heavily spotted bodies, and a faint red-orange slash of colour under the jaw, giving them a unique appearance. They are about 10-16 inches long. They have been known to mingle in saltwater every now and then, but they are highly mobile and have irregular lifecycles, making them an elusive, challenging catch.


Trout found in BC - Westslope Cutthroat TroutWestslope Cutthroat Trout have bright orange to red slashes underneath their gill plate as well, and a heavily spotted body (more so on the posterior half of the body), but their colouring is orange, yellow or olive. Their large mouth extends well past their eye. They are generally between 10 and 20 inches in length, although occasionally bigger fish can be encountered.


BC's Trout - BulltroutBull Trout are lesser known than other fish species on this list, but they are making a comeback. They can be detected by the whitish and pinkish spots along their entire body, and large, broadened heads, oval, snakelike bodies, and white leading edges on lower fins. They often get confused with another trout species – the dolly varden.


Dolly Varden Trout - in and around BCDolly Varden have small heads and oval, snake-like bodies. They have whitish to pinkish spots, and no worm-like markings on the dorsal fin. Dolly varden resemble bull trout and for many years it was believed they were the same fish.


Trout found in BC waters - Brook troutBrook Trout are native to eastern Canada and have recently been brought to BC to stock lakes. They are short in length but girthy and grow to weigh about 1-4 lbs. They are relatively easy to catch with simple spoons and spinners.


Trout in British Columbia - Kokanee TroutKokanee are actually considered landlocked sockeye salmon, although they are significantly smaller and never make it out of freshwater. They are simple enough to catch but are quite feisty and hard to keep on the line.

If you’re new to fishing, a fish identification guide will help you accurately identify the species of fish you catch in order to stay within your daily catch limits.


Daily Quotas: Wild Origin vs Hatchery Origin Trout

To help protect trout populations in BC, daily quotas of 4 hatchery-origin trout are in place around Vancouver Island. Only 1 over 50 cm is allowed, or 2 hatchery steelhead over 50 cm are allowed.

You must release:

  • All wild steelhead
  • All wild trout from streams
  • All char (includes Dolly Varden)

Note: There is no general minimum size limit for trout in lakes or hatchery origin trout in streams. Learn how to identify a wild trout vs a hatchery origin trout.

Know Before You Go: Be sure you’re aware of the freshwater and saltwater fishing regulations put forth by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) before heading out fishing anywhere in Canada.

Tips for Eating Trout

Trout is usually eaten as a whole fish but can be filleted or chopped as well in a pinch. A fresh, healthy whole trout will be shiny, smell OK, and have firm flesh and clear eyes. The skin of trout is safe and nutritious to consume, unless the trout is really big and old and has lived in polluted water.

For more information on what other types of fish can be found in BC’s lakes, rivers, and coastlines, check out the provincial government’s list of the most common sport fish in BC.

Read More: The 5 Types of Salmon in BC Waters

Looking for a new boat for trout fishing in BC? Van Isle Marina has a wide range of boat services and boats and yachts for sale moored at our docks. We can also tell you our favourite spots for catching fish by boat. Learn more about our boats online, or come see us at 2320 Harbour Road in Sidney, British Columbia near Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

marine navigation basics

Basics of Marine Navigation

Marine Navigation Basics – How to Navigate a Boat

Whether your watercraft of choice is a speedboat, yacht, or something in between, knowing the basics of marine navigation is absolutely essential when you’re spending time on the water. Below is Van Isle Marina staff’s quick guide to the basics of navigation. We’ve included some short definitions to go with our roundup of the traditional manual tools that truly experienced sailors swear by, as well as electronic devices with all the bells and whistles.Navigation buoys

Marine Navigation – Learning Your Directions

Latitude & Longitude – A coordinate system that allows you to pinpoint exactly where you are on Earth, whether on land or at sea. Latitude measures north & south, while longitude measures east & west.

True North – Also known as geodetic north, this marks the position of the geographic North Pole according to the position of the Earth’s axis. Not to be confused with the magnetic North Pole, which shifts by kilometres every year due to moving sea ice, the geographic North Pole is where the lines of longitude converge. The same is true for the South Pole.

Knots – 1 knot or kn is 1.15 mph or 1.852 km/h, a measure of speed for boats and aircraft.  This unit of measurement has been used since the 17th century, when the speed of ships was measured by a rudimentary device made of coiled rope with evenly spaced knots.

This rope was attached to a pie-shaped piece of wood that floated behind the ship and was let out for a certain amount of time. When the line was pulled back in, the number of knots (roughly the speed of the ship) between the wood and the ship were counted.

Nautical Mile – A nautical mile is equal to one minute of latitude and is based on the Earth’s circumference. One nautical mile equals 1.1508 statute (land measured) miles.

Marine Navigation – Tools Marine Navigation - magnetic compass

Magnetic Compass – Tried and true, and something that every sailor should have on hand since it doesn’t require any electricity to operate. The magnetic compass points to magnetic north and you can read your direction using the needle or the “lubber line.” There are 360 degrees, with 0 degrees to the north, 180 degrees to the south, 90 degrees to the east, and 270 degrees to the west. The direction your boat is heading in measured in degrees relative to magnetic north.

Rules – A set of parallel rulers that determine the angle (degrees) between the starting point and destination. They are attached by swivelling arms that you can “walk” across a nautical chart, while maintaining the correct angle.

Dividers – Used to measure distance on a nautical chart, dividers are used to separate two points on the chart to represent one or many nautical miles.

GPS – Global Positioning System (GPS) devices receive signals from satellites to pinpoint your position, plot your course, and determine speed. They’re increasingly popular among boaters for their simplicity, ranging from very basic to high end, complete with depth alarms and chart plotters, among other extras.

Marine Navigational Aids

marine navigation - buoys

Buoy – An anchored buoy serves as a marker for watercraft. Port hand buoys are green and mark the left side of a passage, or an obstruction in the water. Starboard hand buoys are red and mark the right side of a passage, or an obstruction in the water. A simple rule is to keep green buoys on the left side and red buoys on the right to keep with traffic and avoid hazards. Buoys also come in different shapes and sizes.

Cardinal Marks – There are north, south, east, and west cardinal buoys, which mark the safest direction to travel. These may have a white light on top that each follow a specific pattern, and they’re coloured for easy direction identification:

  • North- Painted black on top, yellow on bottom
  • South- Painted yellow on top, black on bottom
  • East- Painted black on top and bottom, yellow in the middle
  • West- Painted yellow on top and bottom, black in the middle

See complete details on the different types of marks.

Lights – Lights used on buoys for marine navigation are all assigned specific patterns of speed and number of flashes. Cardinal buoys have white lights with a flashing speed and pattern that corresponds to the position on an analog clock. For instance, east buoys flash at a rate of 3 times every 10 seconds.  Special types of buoys, like anchorage buoys and cautionary buoys have a yellow light that flashes once every 4 seconds.

marine navigation - paper charts

Paper Charts – A paper chart is still the most reliable form of charting when on the water and is used to plot courses between point A and point B, determine depth of water, any charted obstructions, navigation aids, and information on currents and tides.

Electronic Charts –  The Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) uses computer software and databases to provide details for charting when on the water, ENC’s use a dynamic map that shows your location in real time. The most complex are Vector charts, which allow you to filter out any layers of

Marine Navigation - Electronic charts

information you may not need at all times, such as location of buoys, direction of current or depth of water.  This navigational tool can be used on a waterproof chart plotter, smartphone or tablet, and laptop.

Read More: Important Items to Bring on Your Boat


Whether you’re brand new to boating or a seasoned skipper, we at Van Isle Marina believe it never hurts to brush up on the basics to ensure everyone has a great—and safe—time on the water. Rely on our expertise to help you choose the navigation tools and equipment that are right for you, and pick up a cruising guide, chart or tide book, or other supplies for your aquatic adventures at our Dock Store.

Come and see us – we are your Pacific Northwest boating experts!


Exploring the Caves of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island Caves

Exploring the Caves of Vancouver Island

You might be surprised to learn that caves are everywhere on Vancouver Island, ranging from barely accessible fractures leading to extensive underground networks, to the well-known caves in Horne Lake Provincial Park. Because Vancouver Island is partially formed out of karst limestone, a unique topography that results in caverns, springs, and disappearing streams, there are over 1600 known caves, with countless more sure to be discovered by enthusiastic spelunkers.


Artlish Caves on Vancouver Island

Artlish Caves Provincial Park

Getting to Artlish Caves is half the adventure. Located 80 km south of Port McNeill, and about the same distance northwest of Woss, there are no developed trails in this remote location. With two large entrances and an underground river that snakes through serene old-growth forest, these caves are a sensitive, protected area, and their unique karst features offer a true wilderness caving experience. These are challenging caves with hazards like sinkholes, so only well-experienced cavers should explore this system.  Visit BC Parks for more information and updates on accessibility.


Gordon River CavesGordon River Caves on Vancouver Island

Because the Cowichan region also features the Karst geology found all over the island, it’s home to a southern network of impressive caves that hide in plain sight. Near Gordon River, there are Mudslick, Stream, Hourglass, Easter, Big Bear, Banana Split, and Woodhole caves, each with varying degrees of difficulty and extra “features” like the need to use rope, rappelling skills, and bushwhacking. Not for beginners, this network of impressive and beautiful caves offers up endless exploration opportunities.


Horne Lake Caves Provincial ParkHorne Lake Caves on Vancouver Island

The most widely known and used caving system on Vancouver Island, Qualicum’s Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park provides the opportunity to explore the caves yourself, or experience a guided tour, and rappelling, year-round. The Riverbend cave provides a taste of caving without having to climb or crawl, and the Main cave is a tighter squeeze with ladders and climbs. Self-guided explorers can adventure through the lower cave, Andres Annex, or the first 20m of the main cave during park hours. While at the park, check out Phil Whitfield’s Fossil Geology trail, a moderately difficult 1.5 km loop named in honour of one of the park’s founders.


Little Huson Regional ParkVancouver Island - Huson Regional Park and Caves

Often described as magical with disappearing waterfalls and rivers, and an emerald green lake, the Quatsino system near Zeballos offers an incredible opportunity to explore the underground world nestled between the Nimpkish Valley and Strathcona Provincial Park. Little Huson is popular with beginning cavers with easy access and well-marked trails leading to several key areas to explore, including the Vanishing River, and the Reappearing River. Openings to the beautiful limestone caves are dotted along the banks of the Atluck Creek.


Vancouver Island's Nitnat cavesNitinat Caves

This series of caves in Cowichan’s Looper Creek Canyon lies just east of Nitinat Lake. It’s accessible by a short steep ravine, and a short walk upstream where a crack in the limestone leads in to a series of large caves. Some swimming is required, and the water is icy cold even on the hottest summer day, so plan accordingly with a wetsuit and shoes with good grip. Even if you don’t opt to go caving, the Looper Creek Canyon itself is an incredible sight made up of a 100-foot vertical limestone karst formation.


Sea Caves at Owen PointVan Isle's Owen Point Sea Caves

A different form of cave, the sandstone sea caves at Owen Point can be explored along the West Coast Trail when tides are below 1.8 m. These caves have been carved out by the repeated wave action of the Pacific Ocean, which has broken down the softer and weaker materials in the rock face, resulting in stunning caverns along the shore.


Upana CavesUpana Caves on Vancouver Island British Columbia

Upana Caves is a huge system of over 100 known caves in Nootka Sound, about 17 km west of Gold River. Upana is the most accessible of all the cave systems in the area, with fifteen known entrances. The caves can vary in size from a single cavern to a full network of darkened corridors. These caves are the deepest ones north of Mexico and can dip more than 610 metres underground so it does get quite cold. Guided tours of the “White Ridge” caverns and the underground river are available, or the cave system can be independently explored by even casual cavers.


Whether you’ve never set foot in a cave or have decades of experience in the subterranean world, Vancouver Island is an adventurer’s dream with caves galore to explore. To have the most fun, always bring the proper gear, and never go caving alone. We hope you get the opportunity to explore some of the most awe-inspiring terrain in the world, and when you’re ready to relax, we invite you to enjoy the views and ambiance here at Van Isle Marina in beautiful Sidney, BC.

Yacht Tender Safety Tips

Dinghy / Tender Yacht Safety Tips

All You Need to Know About Your Yacht’s Dinghy / Tender

At Van Isle Marina, many of the yachts we list for sale have tender (aka dinghy) garages or tender storage options onboard so we felt it was time to post an overview about tender safety and general usage of your vessel’s service boat.

What is a Tender?

There are many different types of tenders available for your yacht, depending on your vessel’s size and function. Yacht tenders range from small dinghies towed behind sailboats, to larger dinghies stowed onboard classic motor yachts, to high-speed luxury craft stowed in the hulls of superyachts. The terms ‘tender’ and ‘dinghy’ are used interchangeably amongst most yacht owners.

In the boating industry, a tender is any type of smaller vessel onboard your yacht that is used to service your larger vessel. Tenders are often used when you are anchored at sea or moored far from shore and want to make quick trips to shore.

Tenders are essential for the following activities:

  • Quicker and easier supply runs
  • Picking up guests from the dock or shore
  • Entertainment purposes like cruising small coves and bays
  • Visiting neighbouring yachts in the harbour
  • Lifesaving purposes in the event there are no other dedicated lifesaving vessels on board

Unlike in the Pacific Northwest, in many cruising areas around the world, such as in the tropics, marinas are few and far between, meaning you’ll need to rely on a good, sturdy dinghy for multiple shore runs.

Tender Storageproper yacht tender storage

On a superyacht or megayacht, the tender is usually a small powerboat that is stored in the yacht’s haul – a boat within a boat. It’s usually kept near all the other toys, like the jet skis and helicopter.

On a standard-sized motor yacht, tenders range from small rubber dinghies with oars to rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB) with outboard motors. On yachts that have a dedicated tender garage, the tender garage can usually be found near the transom, tucked under the cockpit, as with the Riviera 4800 Sport Yacht. With this layout, the tender garage door raises on electric actuators at the push of a button and the tender (RHIB) can be slipped right into the water.

On other yacht models, there are foredeck options that allow plenty of space for tender storage, where a davit for launching and retrieval would be outfitted.

No Dedicated Tender Storage Space?

If your yacht is an express cruiser, you might not have a tender garage, a.k.a. designated dinghy berth, onboard your yacht. However, this shouldn’t limit you from having a dinghy. You can always create a makeshift tender area on board and stow a dinghy on your deck, bow, or stern.

Many yacht owners will also choose to secure it behind the boat on or near the swim platform. The key is choosing a location that does not block your access to critical things like your anchoring station or fishing tackle. Sailboats 23 feet and below must tow their tender – usually a small dinghy – behind their vessel.

You will want to find an area where you can safely secure your tender from flying away, and where you can batten down all of its accessories. Make sure everyone on board knows where the tender is located, in case of emergency, and ensure nothing is obstructing its access.

Getting From Yacht to Tendergetting to and from your yacht's tender

The range of difficulty in loading and unloading your tender – a seemingly easy task – varies with where on your yacht you store your tender. When the dinghy is stored on a davit on the swimming platform, you simply turn the crank, lowering the tender into the water from a vertical position in the air to a horizontal position on the water. Then you unclip the tender, step in the vessel, and you’re off. Likewise, if the tender is stored lying flat on the swimming platform via chocks, simply lower the swim platform, untie the tender, and you’re stepping into your tender in no time.

Similarly, if your tender is stored in a tender garage near the cockpit, the lid or cover is lifted electrically, the tender is pulled backwards, unclipped, and slid into the water off the swimming platform and away you go. This is easier with more than one person.

If your tender is stored on the foredeck, using the tender is a bit more of a process, but it’s simple once you get the hang of it. Most yachts that have the option of adding foredeck tender storage will come equipped with the appropriate davit (the pulley system used to lower the tender up and down from the water). Davits can be permanently mounted or removable and are either manual, electric, or hydraulic.

Once lowered into the water from the bow, it’s tempting to jump into your tender and get going, but this is not recommended as it’s a long way down and is not safe – you could hurt yourself and your tender in the process. Instead, use your yacht’s side decks if possible and a line attached to the lowered vessel to walk it down the length of the hull in the water to your transom.

Watch this video from Riviera on how easy it is to safely access your tender from your boat’s side deck:

General Yacht Tender Safety Tips

Yacht owners usually end up spending more time than they think they will aboard their tenders. However short and uneventful each trip may be, they add up over time. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind a few safety protocols, most of which relate to having the right equipment on board with you at all times, as well as:

  • Be aware of the tides and the weather forecast for the duration of your planned use of the tender, and plan accordingly.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, especially as they pertain to the size of your outboard motor and load limits (i.e. Don’t overload your boat with occupants or supplies)
  • Always wear a lifejacket.
  • Always use a kill cord for your outboard.
  • Always check your fuel levels before setting offchoosing the right tender for your yacht
  • Service the engine seasonally and inspect for damages

Essential Items to Keep On a Tender

  • Oars (in case your outboard fails)
  • Mobile phone or handheld VHF for emergency communication
  • Waterproof torch
  • Foot pump and pressure gauge
  • Spare kill cords
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Spare tube inflation valves

Buying the Right Tender

The right tender for your yacht is one that is safe, dry, comfortable, and the right size to match your storage space on board. The weight and the dimensions of your tender are what matter the most.

Ask yourself:

  • Will the shape and size fit the space you have available? A tender or dinghy that accommodates two to three people should be all that is needed.
  • Will the vessel be light enough that you will be able to get it on and off-board as needed? If a davit won’t be used for loading and unloading the tender from your yacht, consider a lighter weight option if possible.

There are many types of tenders and dinghies on the market. For example, consider the type of flooring, such as slatted or inflated. Solid floors make storage more of an issue, but they are easier to balance in and can carry more gear. If you’re using an outboard, a solid transom is highly recommended but will add bulk and affect storage considerations.

In most cases with new yachts, the tender is usually a separate purchase. This allows you to find a tender with all of the features you need. With pre-owned yachts, sellers usually sell their tenders with their yacht as a package deal.

Curious to learn more? The yachting and boating experts at Van Isle Marina would be pleased to help guide you in your quest for a tender that will suit your new yacht. To further discuss what type of yacht and tender would best fit your needs, contact one of our yacht brokers, who can give you firsthand information and advice on the most suitable vessel(s) for you.

Vancouver Island Flora

Flowers, Plants, and Trees on 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 beautiful array of plant life surrounding you. Vancouver Island is a naturalist’s dream, with so many different types of flowers, plants, and trees growing from the rugged coastal shorelines to the deepest, lushest rainforests.

Here is a quick look at some of the flora you’re likely to spot while boating in the Pacific Northwest around Vancouver Island.

Trees on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is home to some of the largest trees and most impressive old-growth forests in the world—well worth a day trip inland. Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park features some of the world’s largest and oldest Spruce and Cedar trees. Easier to access, though much busier — is Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park with towering Douglas

flowers plants and trees of vancouver island -Sitka Spruce

Firs that reach up to 9 metres in circumference.

Sitka Spruce: An iconic image on the West Coast, the Sitka Spruce is an evergreen coniferous tree with thin, scaly bark. It can be identified by its flat, sharp needles and 5-9 cm long cones that range from yellowish brown to reddish brown.


flowers plants and trees of vancouver island -Western Red CedarWestern Red Cedar: The Provincial tree of BC, the Western Red Cedar is another evergreen coniferous tree. For many years, the Native groups of Vancouver Island have used the lumber and pliable bark for making everything from clothing to dugout canoes. This tree prefers a cool, coastal climate and can live up to 1,000 years.


flowers plants and trees of vancouver island - Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir: Actually a type of pine, the Douglas Fir has bright yellowish-green needles, and can be identified by the spiral pattern of needles on the twigs. The cones are typically a purplish-brown colour, with an interesting pattern of rounded scales and three-pronged “bracts” which look almost like the back legs and tails of little mice.


flowers plants and trees of vancouver island - ArbutusArbutus: The eye-catching Arbutus is a broadleaf evergreen which can be easily identified by its crooked stature, reddish, peeling bark and smooth leaves. Arbutus prefer sun and dry soil and grow along rocky bluffs and outcrops. White bell-shaped flowers bloom in late spring, and an orange, waxy fruit appears in the fall.


flowers plants and trees of vancouver island - Garry OakGarry Oak: The only native oak species in the province, it’s quite rare and found only along the Pacific Northwest and in California. Like the Arbutus, it prefers dry, rocky hillsides and plenty of sun. Also like the Arbutus, it has a twisted, dramatic looking trunk and branches. In the fall, the tree produces small acorns, and its shiny green leaves turn yellow.


Flowers on Vancouver Island

plants of vancouver island - Wild Ginger

Wild ginger: This groundcover has shiny green heart-shaped leaves. One flower, ranging in colour from deep red to light green, grows between two of these leaves. This plant is commonly found in forested areas and is named for the strong gingery taste of its roots.


flowers, plants and trees of vancouver island - Ocean SprayOceanspray: Typically about 3-10 feet high, Oceanspray is a dramatic shrub with cascades of white/cream coloured blossoms. It can grow just about anywhere—from dry rocky soil to the moist rainforest. Its wood is known as ironwood since it becomes stronger when heated in fire.


flowers plants and trees of vancouver island - Nootka Rose

Nootka Rose: A perennial beauty, this plant grows 2-10 feet high and can be very invasive. It produces plenty of pink flowers that fill the air with a delicate floral scent, as well as rosehips that can be used to make teas, jams, or jellies.


flowers plants and trees of vancouver island - Western Trillium
Western Trillium:
Trilliums on the West Coast take up to 10 years to bloom and flourish in the spring. The older the plant gets, the deeper the three-petaled blossom becomes, changing from white to pink to a deep burgundy.


flora on vancouver island - Pacific Bleeding HeartPacific Bleeding Heart: With fern-like leaves and heart-shaped flowers, this plant typically grows 10-20 inches tall and can be found blooming in late spring, surrounded by ferns. A great source of food for hummingbirds and butterflies, it grows at sea level and midway up mountains.


plants on vancouver island - Salal

Plants on Vancouver Island

Salal: An evergreen shrub and traditional food plant, salal is found near the coast all the way into the deepest rainforests. The edible dark berries can be eaten fresh or used to make jams and jellies. It’s also a top pick for florists, with a thick, waxy green leaf that retains its colour long after cutting.


flora of vancouver island - Sword Fern

Sword Fern: Invasive but beautiful, this evergreen grows up to 5 feet tall and each plant spreads to about 4 feet wide. Its textured green fronds grow in a triangular shape and cover the shaded forest floor.


flora of vancouver island - Sea Asparagus
Sea Asparagus:
Found on calm shorelines growing between rocks, this perennial has fleshy stems that reach up to 30 cm long. Like many plant species found in the Pacific Northwest, it can also be used in all kinds of recipes, and is typically pickled and paired with seafood.


plants of vancouver island -Bear BerryKinnikinnik (Bear Berry): A low evergreen shrub with rounded leaves, this plant is found in dryer areas and grows up to a maximum of 15 cm high. It produces white/pink flowers in the spring and red berries in the winter, but these dry, mealy berries are best left to the birds and bears.


plants on vancouver island - Coastal StrawberryCoastal Strawberry: Native to the Pacific Northwest, this plant looks like a typical garden strawberry plant, but the small, juicy berries are a lot sweeter, making them a great treat if you’re out for a hike in the woods. For a true Coastal Strawberry, look for white blossoms and red fruit with yellow seeds.


plants of vancouver island - Tall Oregon Grape

Tall Oregon Grape: Up to 8 feet tall, these plants resemble holly, with their shiny, spiked leaves, but the resemblance ends there. The leaves change to a bronze or purple colour in the winter, and it produces clusters of bright yellow flowers as well as sour dark blue berries in the spring and summer months.


These are just a few of the hundreds of species that can be spotted on the coast and surrounding woodlands. Though many are edible, please use caution and be sure you can identify the plant first. To learn more, there are plenty of great guides both in print and online that list the many native plants on the West Coast.

At Van Isle Marina, we have decades of experience out on the water and have spotted plenty of the plants listed above, both from shoreline excursions, and 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!

Riviera Yacht Owner Spotlight

Riviera Yacht Owner Spotlight

Riviera Yacht Owners Sandy and Beth Seney

Riviera Yacht Owners - Beth and Sandy Seney

Riviera Yachts are designed and built in Queensland, Australia, at the largest luxury yacht building facility in the Southern Hemisphere.  Their yachts are highly sought after around the world for their high performance, fuel efficiency, luxurious finishing touches, smart layouts, and soft-riding, sure-footed hulls.

As Western Canada’s exclusive authorized dealer of Riviera Australia motor yachts, we at Van Isle Marina are here to help you find the best Rivera model to meet your needs, just like we helped Sandy and Beth Seney, who were recently featured in Experience, Riviera’s digital magazine.

Riviera & Belize Yachts

Avid motor yacht enthusiasts from Vancouver, BC, the couple shared their story of how they came to be the proud owners of a brand new Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge. Our team at Van Isle Marina was pleased to support them in their journey to becoming Riviera owners.

“We saw the Riviera 52 at a local boat show and immediately decided she was what we wanted,” Sandy recalls of how they decided which motor yacht would meet all of their needs.Sandy and Beths Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge

One of the standout features of the 52 Enclosed Flybridge model that appealed to Sandy and Beth was the internal staircase to the flybridge, as well as the glass-enclosed flybridge itself. “No more plastic windows!” Sandy noted.

The flybridge of the 52 also features forward and rear lounges, a wet bar, and twin seats in the helm – another standout feature for the couple, who appreciate that there is no helm station in the saloon, giving them more space in the living area.

Additional features on the Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge motor yacht include three staterooms, two bathrooms, large boarding platform, barbeque and wet bar station, laundry closet, wide side decks, anchoring station, rear glass bulkhead, premium finishes, the best brands in audio and video equipment, and joystick steering that makes operating this model extra simple. In all, the layout of Riviera’s enclosed flybridges offer plenty of space, with the galley aft and dinette and lounge forward all on the same level.

“And we can’t get over how fast she is with the twin Volvo Penta engines and pod drives,” Sandy adds, referring to their Volvo Penta D11-IPS950s delivering 750 hp each.

The inverter, generator, and water capacity of Sandy and Beth’s desired yacht was also important to them, given they seldom go into marinas or tie up to docks. “We prefer to anchor somewhere on our own,” Sandy says.

Sandy and Beth named their new Riviera 52 Enclosed Flybridge ‘Sweet Thing’, after an expression Beth’s mother once used to describe Sandy. She tells Riviera magazine: “My mother referred to everyone as either a ‘sweet thing’ or an ‘interesting character’. It was not good to be known as an ‘interesting character’! “Fortunately, she referred to Sandy as a ‘sweet thing’. Hence the name,” Beth shares.

After selecting the 52 Enclosed Flybridge out from a crowd of other boats during a boat show, the pair enlisted the services of Van Isle Marina to help them acquire the yacht and make it theirs. They visited the Riviera yard in Australia on a number of occasions, taking a keen interest in the build of their investment. Riviera offers this option to owners who have bought brand new and are customizing their models, which is all part of the exclusive Riviera Experience.

The couple spent some time inspecting the build of their new yacht as she was being built at the company’s headquarters in south-east Queensland, Australia. Their final visit to the yard was to sea trial the motor yacht before her delivery to Canada. With the sea trial proving more than successful, the last step was simply waiting patiently for her delivery.

Sandy and Beth’s motor yacht was delivered to us here at Van Isle Marina, where we presented it to our very happy clients who were eager to get out exploring. And with all the comforts and conveniences Riviera is known for, it’s easy to see how Sandy and Beth were able to spend eight weeks out on the water exploring the Pacific Northwest upon receiving their Riviera.

One of their first anchorages was Princess Louisa Inlet, a small narrow fjord nearly 100 nautical miles north of Vancouver. Then they headed north to Desolation Sound, a vast, protected waterway with seemingly endless small islands to navigate.

Continuing north, they traveled through Johnstone Strait and on to the Broughton Archipelago, leading toward Pierre’s Echo Bay Marina. These are just a few of several stops the pair made during their maiden voyage – the first of many to come.

Sandy and Beth look forward to sharing their Riviera with their children and their grandchildren this summer as they explore even more of the hidden gems around the west coast, especially all the protected and spectacular bays, inlets, and sounds that make up the waterways of the Pacific Northwest.

Riviera Yacht Owners RendezvousAnnual Riviera Rendezvous

If you decide to follow Sandy and Beth’s path and come to own a Riviera yacht, you’ll be joining a growing group of ecstatic yacht owners who meet regularly to share their adventures and boating knowledge. One such event is called the annual Riviera Rendezvous that takes place each year in June.

At this highly anticipated event, dozens of Riviera yacht owners meet up for an entire weekend to catch up with old friends and welcome new Riviera yacht owners into the family. The 2019 Riviera Rendezvous took place on June 7-9 with Emerald Pacific Yachts in Roche Harbor, a sheltered harbor on the northwest side of San Juan Island in San Juan County, Washington.

Check out the recap from the 2019 Riviera Rendezvous.

As always, the Riviera Rendezvous was an outstanding success bringing together Riviera owners from the Pacific Northwest to enjoy a festive weekend together. With more than 160 people and 44 Riviera Yachts in attendance, proud owners celebrated the ‘Silver Screen’ as movie stars with a potluck, dock parties, seminars, and a catered dinner. It was entertaining and an excellent opportunity to connect with the Riviera family.

The entire Van Isle Marina team is looking forward to celebrating Riviera’s 40th anniversary at the next Riviera Rendezvous happening in June 2020.

Read More: 8 Things You’ll Love About Living on a Yacht

Riviera’s 15th Motor Yacht

Riviera has 14 – soon to be 15 – different motor yacht models available across 5 distinct collections, including the Open and Enclosed Flybridge Collections, the Sport Yacht and the Sport Motor Yacht Collections, and the SUV Collection. As Western Canada’s exclusive authorized dealer of Riviera Australia’s luxury motor yachts, Van Isle Marina’s yacht brokers would be pleased to present you with more information.

You can also read about each of Riviera’s models on our website.

To help you discover what type of Riviera yacht may be right for you, Van Isle Marina is here to help. Please contact one of our Yacht Sales Brokers, call us at 250.656.1138, or come to Sidney BC to see us in person. We look forward to showing you our boats!

5 types of pacific salmon in british columbia

Kinds of Salmon in BC

The 5 Types of Pacific Salmon in British Columbia Waters

With so many species of fish to fish for in BC waters, there is something to catch at practically any time of the year. One of the most popular fish that draws anglers to our region is salmon. You’ll find this post on the different types of salmon helpful if you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, or if you are a local who just wants to freshen up on your familiarity of the 5 main types of Pacific salmon in British Columbia.

What Makes a Salmon a Salmon?

It’s no secret that British Columbia is best known for our salmon fishing, both freshwater and saltwater. So, what makes a salmon, a salmon? The name “salmon” covers several species of ray-finned fish in the Salmonidae family. (Trout, char, grayling, and whitefish are also in the Salmonidae family and will be covered in a future post).

Pacific salmon are anadromous, which means they are born in freshwater streams, then migrate to the ocean for most of their lives before returning to the same freshwater stream in which they were born, to reproduce (spawn). Pacific salmon are also semelparous, which means they die after reproduction and become a food source for other life forms in BC’s coastal ecosystems.

There are 5 Pacific salmon species indigenous to the coastal waters of British Columbia. They are Chinook, Chum, Sockeye, Coho, and Pink. There are also two additional species of Pacific salmon – masu and amago – that are indigenous to Asia and cannot be found in BC. It should also be noted that Pacific salmon are distantly related to Atlantic salmon but have different amounts of chromosomes.

ChinookDifferent kinds of salmon in BC - Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon (also called “King” or “Spring” salmon) are the largest and rarest of the Pacific salmon, weighing upwards of 50 kg and measuring up to 40 or more inches long. Chinook that weigh over 30 lbs are called “ Tyee”. Tyee salmon are highly sought after and popular amongst anglers because they are big, strong, and taste great – especially when grilled or prepared as smoked salmon. You can identify chum by their dark mouths, black gums, and V-shaped, silver tails that are often covered in spots. Anglers are allowed to catch up to 30 chinook per year and must log each catch.

Saltwater chinook fishing is best done from your boat or yacht between May and September using baitfish like herring or anchovies. Lure casting, trolling, and float fishing are all common methods used to catch chinook, whether you are on a boat or fishing for chinook salmon from lakes and rivers as well.  Use big spoons, jigs, hootchies, or spin ‘n’ glows to get started.

Chum5 Types of BC Salmon - Chum

Chum Salmon (or “Dog” Salmon, nicknamed for their canine-like teeth) are the second largest of the Pacific salmon and are easy to spot due to each of them having a dark horizontal stripe running down each of their sides. They also have large pupils, white jaws, and a somewhat forked, spotted tail. Chum can be 20 inches long or more and weigh 10 to 30 lbs. They are strong and highly abundant, but not as tasty as the other Pacific salmon. They are best when poached or steamed to enhance texture and taste.

Chum can be caught in saltwater before October, when they start to migrate back to freshwater between October and December. Note that they are easier to catch than they are to reel in, and for this reason, a heavier rod, reel, and line are recommended. Try out various techniques like drift fishing with a float, spinning with spoons or spinners, or trolling in the ocean using hootchies.

SockeyeTypes of Salmon in British Columbia - Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye Salmon (or “Red” salmon) are medium-sized, silver/blue salmon that have small black speckles on their bodies. When they migrate back to their home streams, the bodies of sockeye become reddish in colour with bright green heads. They have pink gums, large eyes, and slightly forked tails without spots. Sockeye measure about 24-32 inch long and weigh around 6-18 lbs. They are delicious fish, with grilling and eating raw as sushi or as a salmon poke bowl being very popular.

Around the Vancouver Island region, sockeye salmon fishing season is usually July to early September. You will have a lot of success trolling for sockeye in the Georgia Strait and the mouth of the Fraser River using colourful hootchies or spoons.

CohoTypes of salmon in BC - Coho Salmon

Coho Salmon, also commonly known as “silvers” or “bluebacks” because they stay a nice chrome colour for almost their entire lives, are the most populous of the Pacific salmon. They are modestly sized, at 20-24 inches long and topping out at around about 25-30 lbs. They have white mouths and gums and a squared tail. Coho are a favourite amongst anglers because they are tasty and a tad tricky to catch with their aggressive behaviour and acrobatic skills.

Coho salmon fishing in both ocean and rivers is common. They like to hang out in kelp beds in search of smaller fish. A number of techniques can be used to target coho salmon, with trolling, spincasting, mooching, flyfishing, and barfishing all offering their own perks. Silver or copper spoons and spinners are recommended.

5 Kinds of BC Salmon - Pink Salmon


Pink salmon are the smallest of the five Pacific salmon, weighing in at just 4-7 lbs each. Their flesh is a nice pink colour, meaning they are aptly named. Mature male pinks have a large, humped back and large oval black spots on their backs and V-shaped tail fins. Pink salmon are the only salmon without silver in their tails.

Despite their smaller size, pinks are a popular sportfish for beginners because they readily bite at all kinds of lures and flies and are light enough for young children to have no problem reeling in. A lightweight fishing rod and line is all that is needed, as well as any type of colourful artificial lure. Pink salmon fishing season is from July to September.

Learn More

For an illustrative guide to these 5 pacific salmon species, check out the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s salmon poster. All proceeds go to charity.

For more information on what other types of fish can be found in BC’s lakes, rivers, and coastlines, check out the provincial government’s list of the most common sport fish in BC.

No matter what type of salmon you set out to catch, make sure you’re aware of the freshwater and saltwater fishing regulations put forth by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

Finally, find out how to prepare any of the 5 species of Pacific salmon with these great salmon recipe suggestions.

Read More:

If you need a new boat or yacht for salmon fishing in BC, Van Isle Marina has a wide range of yacht services and yachts for sale moored at our docks. We’ll also share our favourite spots for catching salmon by boat. Check out our selection online or come and see us in person. We are located at 2320 Harbour Road in Sidney, British Columbia near Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal.

A Guide to Anchoring Your Boat (1)

Anchors Part 2 – Anchoring Your Boat

A Guide to Anchoring Your Boat

Learn what is involved when it comes time to anchor your motor yacht

Knowing how to anchor your boat when necessary is an essential boating skill. In part two of our two-part post on anchoring, we’ll provide some tips & tricks on how to anchor your boat.

How to Anchor Your Boat

There are three main components to anchoring a boat, including:

Choosing the Right Anchor

We covered how to choose the right anchor in Part One of our two-part series on anchoring. To recap, there are several types of anchors available, and it’s important to pick the right kind based on the type of seabed you’ll be covering (sand, rock, seaweed, coral, etc.). Choosing the right anchor has more to do with the seabed below than the size of your vessel.

Choosing the Best Spot to Anchor

A big component of anchoring your boat successfully is knowing where to best anchor the boat so it is safe and secure. Doing so comes down to good old-fashioned intuition, as well as knowing what’s below you. Let’s jump right into it…

First, refer to your charts to know the depth of the water below. Aim for a flat bottom that is suitable for your anchor type. In a perfect world, you end up finding a spot that is soft and weed-free, where the water is calm and there isn’t a lot of wind.

If the area is crowded with other boaters, you’ll also need to be mindful of other boats in the area, making sure your boat’s swing radius won’t intersect with other boats. If possible, ask other boat owners where their anchors are dropped and how long their rodes are if you can’t tell.

Measuring Your Rode

To know if you have enough rode to anchor securely, measure the depth at your desired location from your bow (not the water surface) to the bottom, and multiply by 7, or by 5 is you have a heavier, all-chain rode.

The resulting number is the scope, and it refers to the ratio between the length of your rode and the distance from the bow to the bottom. The scope indicates approximately how far your boat will drift from your anchor. Increase your scope to 10:1 or more for stormy conditions. The longer the scope, the more horizontal your rode is, and the more tightly you will be anchored.

Knowing that if the wind or current changes, your boat could swing every which way from the anchor point, so keep a wide berth from all obstacles (a complete radius from the anchor point). Before dropping anchor, double check there are no hidden shallow areas within your anchor radius.

Also remember to check the weather and tide information so you’re not caught off-guard. If high winds are expected in the time you’ll be anchored, or if a loose anchor could cause a collision with other anchored boats in the area, use your heavier storm anchor. For most situations, your general purpose main anchor will be enough. In extremely rough seas, consider anchoring both your bow and your stern if possible.

Dropping Anchor

With the perfect spot selected, it’s time to drop your anchor. Approach your selected spot slowly from downwind and stop the boat when you’re on top of the selected spot. Allow the current or wind to move you back slightly away from the spot.

Before dropping anchor, determine and let out how much rode you’ll need, then use a cleat hitch to tie it at that distance. Drop your anchor over the bow slowly, keeping the anchor rode tight at first to avoid tangling your rode. This also helps you aim the anchor until you feel it hit bottom. Slowly let out the rode at about the same speed as the boat is moving.

Once one-third of the rode has been let out, cinch it off and let the boat straighten. Your boat will probably turn across the current or wind as you move. This will straighten the rode you’ve let out and gently set the anchor into the bottom. If your boat won’t straighten out, your anchor is drifting and you need to try again. Pick another spot if possible, if multiple attempts fail.

Continue to let out the scope and straighten the boat twice more. Uncinch the anchor rode and let it out as the boat once again drifts backward. Cinch it again once a total of 2/3 the rode length has been played out. Let the boat’s momentum straighten it out and set the anchor more firmly. Repeat this process one more time, letting out the rest of the rode length you determined was necessary.

Tie off the line around a bow cleat and voila!

Snubbing the Anchor

To further ensure you’re anchored, you can give the anchor a final hard set by reversing hard until the rode straightens out. This sudden jerk will jam an already set anchor even more firmly into the seabed. This is called snubbing the anchor.

Making Sure You’re Anchored

To make sure you’ve anchored successfully, select a couple of stationary reference points on land. Note their positions relative to each other from your perspective, then reverse your boat until the rode straightens and allow your boat to drift back to a stationary position. The two objects you had your eye on should be in the same position relative to each other as they were before you reversed.

For peace of mind, we recommend taking compass bearings immediately after anchoring, and then 15-20 minutes after anchoring to make sure you’re anchored. For even more peace of mind, many GPS units have an alarm to alert you if you drift.

Anchoring Safety Tips

  • Be careful your hands or feet don’t get caught in the rode.
  • Wear a personal flotation device when dropping or retrieving an anchor.
  • Instruct passengers whenever you’ll be anchoring.
  • Keep kids and animals out of the anchoring area.
  • When using more than one anchor, do not drop an anchor from the stern before anchoring the bow – doing so could cause your boat to capsize.
  • To make sure you stay anchored during an overnight trip, try to find a stationary object that is lit to use as a reference point. Otherwise, use a GPS unit that will alert you if you start to drift.

Learn More: See how anchoring is different than mooring and docking.

To learn even more about anchoring your boat, we recommend talking to your local boating experts. The team here at Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC are here to help you anchor your new boat with confidence. Give us a call or stop by to learn more about how we can help you develop your boating skills.

Boat Only Destinations Around Vancouver Island Canada

Boat Access Only Tourist Spots

Best Boat Only Destinations Around Vancouver Island

Who doesn’t love the beauty and serenity that a secluded beach, only accessible by boat, provides? At Van Isle Marina, we love spending days or weeks at a time aboard our boats exploring the Pacific Northwest, particularly the many islands and coves around Vancouver Island.

Sometimes, the best places are stumbled upon by accident, when you weren’t even looking for them, but there are a few places that should definitely be on your boating bucket list. Here are our top places around Vancouver Island that you can only get to by boat:

Snake Islandsnake island - accessible by boat only

Snake Island, about 6 km from Nanaimo’s Departure Bay, is a small, uninhabited island that’s popular with kayakers and canoers. Directly in the path of BC Ferries, be on high alert when navigating this region. Snake Island offers amazing diving experiences, a little lighthouse, a large population of harbour seals, beautiful sandstone overhangs, and great birdwatching opportunities.

Rugged Point Marine Park

If you’re looking for plenty of park amenities such as camping, canoeing, fishing, windsurfing, and hiking, check out Rugged Point. This provincial park is located on the west coast of northern Vancouver Island on the southwest end of Kyuquot Channel in the mouth of Kyuquot Sound. There are a variety of safe places to anchor at Rugged Point, or in nearby Dixie Cove, making this a popular destination for boaters.

Clayoquot Wilderness ResortClayoquot, Vancouver Island, Canada

For a night or two on land, consider a stay at the seasonally-operated Clayoquot Wilderness Resort – an “all-inclusive eco-safari resort” about 30 minutes by boat from Tofino. At this wilderness retreat you get the chance to stay in one of 25 great white canvas, fully-equipped prospector-style tents, and enjoy artfully prepared coastal gourmet cuisine, a spa and more.

Broken Island Group

The Broken Group of Islands in the middle of Barkley Sound is nestled in the Alberni Inlet and close to the Pacific Rim National Park – one of Canada’s most acclaimed parks. Allow several days of boating here, where you’ll enjoy 50 kilometers of fine sand beaches at the national park before or after exploring the Broken Group Islands. If you’re into fishing, check out Eagle Nook Resort for world-class, all-inclusive salmon and fishing charters. Located amongst the Broken Group of Islands and accessible only by boat or seaplane, this remote 5-star fishing vacation is certainly something you’ll want to add to your itinerary.

Grant Bay

Grant Bay, located on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island near Port Hardy, is a white sand secluded beach that technically can be accessed by a drive and a hike, but we believe it’s much more fun to bypass all that by using a boat.

To get there from Winter Harbour, where there is a boat launch if need be, bear right at Mathews Island, continue up the inlet, bear left, tie up safely on the beach and follow the trail through the forest about 30 minutes. You’re there when you see a wide expanse of West Coast sandy beach. You might also see whales and sea otters, both of which are common in the area.

Sandy Island

Sandy Island Marine Park, known locally as Tree Island, is located on the northern tip of Denman Island. Access is boat-only, or by foot from Denman Island at low tide. Sandy Island offers great birdwatching and sandy beaches suitable for sunbathing and swimming.

Ahousahtboat only access to Ahousaht Flores Island

Ahousaht, located in a small bay on the east side of Flores Island in Clayoquot Sound, is the largest of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations with more than 2,000 members. At Ahousaht you’ll also find the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve, home to a diverse ecosystem and a rare ancient temperate rain forest. Take a reprieve from life at sea. Moor the boat and take a stay at the Aauuknuk Lodge or the Lone Cone Hostel and Campground located on Meares Island.

Vargas Island Provincial Park

Vargas Island Provincial Park in Clayoquot Sound is located immediately northwest of Tofino and west of Meares Island on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This park offers great paddling, camping, and wildlife viewing. Also be on the lookout for Gray whales around Ahous Bay in the spring.

On the shorelines of Vargas Island, you’ll see an exposed rocky coast, sandy beaches, sheltered channels and bays, an intertidal lagoon, and ancient sand berms – rows of crescent-shaped sand mounds that indicate earlier sea levels.

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial ParkDesolation Sound - accessible by boat

Chances are you’ve already heard about or been to Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park – a boater’s paradise, with its calm waters, vistas, and more than 60 km of shoreline to discover. There are three major destination anchorages that make up Desolation Sound: Prideaux Haven, Tenedo’s Bay and Grace Harbour. This place is popular, but there is plenty of room for everyone.

Refuge Cove

Refuge Cove in the heart of Desolation Sound is a remote community of around 30 full-time residents with a great summertime burger joint, general store, and campsites. They also offer free four-hour moorage, or overnight stays for a small fee.

Roscoe Bay and Squirrel CoveSquirrel Cove - arrive by boat

While near Desolation Sound, we also recommend visiting nearby Roscoe Bay and Squirrel Cove, both northwest of Desolation. Note that swimming in Roscoe Bay isn’t recommended. Instead, take a 1-2 hour hike and enjoy a freshwater swim at nearby Black Lake.

Lasqueti Island

Lasqueti Island lies off the east coast of Vancouver Island in the Powell River Regional District. It has a population of around 500 people who all live off-grid. There are no public campgrounds on the island, but there are numerous provincial parks on the perimeters of the island, including Squitty Bay Provincial Park. The waters around this area are ideal for cold water scuba diving.

Protection Island

Protection Island, about a 15-minute ferry ride from the harbour city of Nanaimo, is home to around 350 full-time residents. The main mode of transportation on the island is golf carts. On Protection Island you’ll definitely have to check out the Dinghy Dock pub, which is Canada’s only floating pub. There are also tons of beaches and wildlife viewing opportunities on this small island.

New Castle and Gabriola Islands

Also in the Nanaimo area is New Castle Island, a popular place for kayakers who are launching from Nanaimo, and Gabriola Island, or Isle of the Arts, which is a small town of around 4,000 people, including many artists.

Mudge Island

Between Vancouver Island and Gabriola Island you’ll also find Mudge Island, a small island with 50-65 full-time residents and a public park (South Beach), but no ferry service or stores. Mudge is on the northern tip of Dodd Narrows, which means strong currents, whirlpools and back eddies, so proceed with caution! Also be mindful of the reef running through nearby False Narrows.

Hot Springs Coveboat or plane only access - Hot Springs Cove, Vancouver Island

Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Provincial Park northwest of Tofino in Clayoquot Sound – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – are geothermal hot springs backed by amazing scenery. To access the hot springs, anchor the boat and then enjoy a 2km walk along well-maintained boardwalks and wooden stairs through lush rainforest to get to the natural hot springs. There, you can take a long soak.

Additional Destinations Recommended by Pacific Yachting

In addition to the items on our list, check out Pacific Yachting’s 7 Best Boat-Access-Only Beaches in the Gulf Islands, which features:

The boating experts here at Van Isle Marina are very familiar with these and many other great destinations for boating in the Pacific Northwest. We’d also love to hear about the places you love boating around Vancouver Island! We look forward to welcoming you to our docks and helping you find the best new or pre-owned boat or yacht to match your boating lifestyle.