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9 easy knots for boating

9 Easy Knots for Boating

9 Simple Boating & Sailing Knots You Should Know

When it comes to boating, there are many types of knots used for everything from securing line when mooring, handling heavy loads, towing and of course, adjusting your sails.

As boating experts at Van Isle Marina, we’ve narrowed it down to this list of 9 tied and true (pun intended) knots, hitches and bends. These knots will assist you with everything from anchoring to joining two different lines in a pinch. Armed with this basic knowledge, you can cast off with confidence.

Note: When in use, the end of a line is called the standing end. If hanging loose it’s known as the working end, sometimes referred to as the tail end.

The Knots

A knot is mainly used to secure a line to an object, like a piling. It is also used to form an eye, or a noose. Knots used at the end of a line can function as a stopper to keep the line from slipping away, a loop to fasten to an object, or to add weight to the line when tossing.

Bowline Knot How to tie a Bowline Knot

The bowline is the most widely used in boating. A bowline forms a fixed noose at the end of the line and can also be used to connect two lines. The bowline is a go-to because it doesn’t slip and the knot can easily be untied, no matter how tight it has become.

How to Tie a Bowline Knot

Make a loop in the line, with the working end over the standing end. The working end goes through the loop, around behind the standing end and back into the loop. To close the knot, pull tightly. To untie, turn the knot over and bend it downward to loosen it.

Video Instructions

 

how to tie figure eight knotFigure Eight Knot

The figure eight is used as a stopper knot that can easily be undone. It’s most often used to keep a line from sliding away and should never be used for bearing a load.

How to Tie a Figure Eight Knot

Pass the working end over itself to form a loop then loop under and around the standing end. Finish the knot by passing the tail of the line down through the loop.

Video Instructions

 

Heaving Line Knothow to tie heaving line knot

The heaving line knot is excellent for weighing down the end of a line, making it easier to throw the line farther and keep it under control.

How to Tie a Heaving Line Knot

Make a bight (loop) in the line and hold it so that it encloses the working end. Wrap the working end around the first two strands, then around all three to use up the line of the working end. Finish the knot by passing the working end through the loop.

Video Instructions

how to tie half hitch knotHitch

A hitch is commonly used for tying line together (bending) or tying line to an anchor or a pile. A well-tied hitch will hold tightly to whatever you need it to, and still untie quickly and easily.

Half Hitch

The half hitch is used to bear loads as well as tie line around an object. It’s also used to finish many other hitches securely.

How to Tie a Half Hitch

Form a loop around the object you want to tie on to. Pass the end around the standing end and through the loop then tighten into the completed half hitch, which is designed to take a load on the standing end.

Video Instructions

Anchor Hitchhow to tie anchor hitch knot

Used for tying anchor line to the anchor.

How to Tie an Anchor Hitch

Pass the working end twice around the post keeping the second turn slack. Pass the working end over the standing end and under the original slack turn to tie the first half hitch. Pass the line around the standing end to tie a second half hitch and finish the knot.

Video Instructions

 

how to tie a cleat hitchCleat Hitch

The cleat hitch is used to attach line to a cleat. In sailing terms, a cleat is a T-shaped piece of metal or wood to which ropes are attached.

How to Tie a Cleat Hitch

Pass the line around the bottom horn of the cleat and then around over the top. Pull the line down across the middle and then up across the top again. Twist a loop in the line and hook it on the cleat as a half hitch.

Video Instructions

Midshipman’s Hitchhow to tie midshipmans hitch knot

The midshipman’s hitch creates an adjustable loop at the end of the line. Even though the loop can be adjusted, when used in combination with a half hitch, it provides a secure hold.

How to Tie a Midshipman’s Hitch

Pass the working end around the standing end then pass it around again. Tuck it beside the first turn and pull tightly. Pass the working end around again and then tie a half hitch to complete the knot.

Video Instructions

 

Bend

how to tie sheet bend knotA bend is used to connect two lines together. In sailing terms, bend means “to join”.

Sheet Bend

A sheet bend works well for joining different sized lines.

How to Tie a Sheet Bend

Form a bight (loop) in the thicker line and hold it in one hand. Pass the thinner line through the bight and behind first the working end and then the standing end. Tuck the thinner line under itself to finish.

Video Instructions

 

Alpine Butterfly Bendhow to tie alpine butterfly bend knot

Based on interlocking overhand knots, the alpine butterfly bend is used to join similar sized lines.

How to Tie an Alpine Butterfly Bend

Join the two ends, then wind the line around your hand so the join is by your fingertips. Wind the line around your hand again, then fold the join back and up under the other lines. Push the knot off your hand and tighten. To finish the knot, release the temporary join.

Video Instructions

 

Carrick Bendhow to tie carrick bend knot

The Carrick Bend is a great solution for a load-bearing bend that can be easily untied when no longer needed.

How to Tie a Carrick Bend

With one line, form a loop with the working end under the standing end. Pass the line under the loop of the other line and then over and under. Thread the working line across the loop passing under itself. To finish, pull both standing ends to tighten the knot.

Video Instructions

 

The number of knots, bends and hitches out there is staggering. We narrowed it down to these nine sailing knots since they’re all simple to master and have many practical applications for boating. If you’d like to learn more, we recommend visiting Animated Knots for a complete list of knots used in yachting.

At Van Isle Marina, we are Western Canada’s exclusive authorized dealers for top of the line Pursuit boats and Riviera luxury yachts. If you’ve been considering upgrading your boat, browse through our wide selection of new and used yachts and boats or contact our team of expert brokers to find the perfect model for your lifestyle.

Tides & Weather - what boaters need to know

Tides & Weather: What Boaters Need to Know

Tips for Navigating the Ocean’s Tides in Your Boat or Yacht

An essential part of safely cruising the ocean on your yacht or boat is knowing about the tide levels of the areas you’ll be cruising. Even if you’ve chartered the same passage countless times, it’s good to have access to tide tables and knowledge of what types of things affect tide levels.

The topic of tides is covered in safe boating courses, but if it’s been awhile, check out our brief overview of what all boaters need to know about tides.

Key Facts About Tidesboaters and tides in bc

Tides are one of the universe’s most fascinating forces – for boaters and non-boaters alike. Simply put, tides can be defined as the rising and falling of sea levels. Here are some more key facts about tides:

  • During a changing tide, the ocean’s waters are either being pulled towards the poles of the earth or pushed towards the equator. It’s all based on the position and gravitational pull of the moon, the sun, and the rotation of the earth.
  • Along most of the earth’s coasts, tides rise and fall (go from low to high and high to low) two times per day, meaning the tide changes 4 times per day – approximately every 6 hours. These are known as semidiurnal tides.
  • In just a few places around the world, the tide rises and falls only once per day. These are known as diurnal tides.
  • In some places, the first daily high tide is a lot higher than the day’s second high tide, and these are called mixed tides.
  • Depending on the position of the moon and the sun, there are two types of tides that can occur. A spring tide appears when the moon and the sun are aligned with the earth. A neap tide is formed when the moon is at a right angle to the line between the earth and the sun.
  • When the moon is closest to the earth, tides are higher than usual. When the moon is farthest away from the earth, tides are lower.
  • Tides are influenced by the geological differences in the shape of the ocean floor as well as the shape and dynamics of the coastline – they are not consistent across different areas.
  • A narrowing inlet may increase the speed of the tidal currents, while islands in the open ocean don’t usually experience significant tides.
  • Wind and other weather conditions can have an effect on tides. For example, high-pressure systems depress sea levels, while low-pressure systems produce tides higher than predicted.

Why Do Boaters Need to Care About the Tide?

Tides essentially affect the height of the water you’re cruising on, which is subject to change based on the tide. The changing tides can cause several feet of change in the water depth (sea level), so it’s important boaters are aware of the tide’s direction (is it coming or going?) and timing whenever they are boating. Even if it seems like a minuscule level of water depth change, tides can affect things like:

  • what boaters should know about tideshow much rope you need to tie onto a dock
  • how much clearance you have to sail underneath a bridge
  • whether or not your boat bottoms out on a shoal where just a few hours ago the water was deep enough to cruise across
  • your ability or desire to cruise into a harbour where you might be moored, anchored, or docked for several hours at a time
  • how long you can safely stay anchored somewhere. If you underestimate the tide, if the tide goes out, your yacht might just end up beached in place until the next tide rolls in. If the tide rolls in and your anchor isn’t fully dug into the seabed, your boat is likely going to drift.
  • when you’ll be able to pass narrow channels. For certain channels, boaters need to plan their passages around the direction of the tidal flow. In some locales, it may be impossible to travel against the current.

Get Familiar with Tide Tables

Always familiarize yourself with the seascape you’ll be navigating and try to have access to a tide chart whenever you’re out on the water. Tide charts or tables help boaters predict the sea levels of any coastal region at any time of day. Learn how to read them (consult your safe boating books for a refresher) and you’re far less likely to experience any of the issues as noted above.

In Canada, tide tables are published by the Canadian Hydrographic Service. Each tide table shows the predicted times and heights of the high and low waters that are associated with the vertical movement of the tide. They are available in three formats – table, graphic, and text – for more than 700 hundred stations in Canada.

Tide tables are also available on third-party websites like tide-forecast.com, as well as local newspapers, television news, and radio news outlets. No matter where you find your tide tables, look for three important details on one, including the time of high tide, the time of low tide, and the heights of each. For the times in between, you’ll need to use the Rule of Twelfths to best guestimate the sea level based on the stated low and high tides.

Rule of Twelfths

Using the rule of twelfths is a good way to approximate tidal levels if you don’t have access to a complete guide that lists tide levels by the hour. For boaters on the go, this formula is all you need. The basis behind the rule of twelfths is that it takes a period of about six-plus hours for tides to get from low to high tide and vice versa. (Lunar high tides occur every 12 hours and 25 minutes, which means that it takes 6 hours and 12.5 minutes to go from high tide to low tide or vice versa.)

Therefore, the difference between high tide and low tide (the range of tides) can be divided into 1/12th units. During the first hour after low tide, the water level rises by one-twelfth of the tidal range, in the second-hour two-twelfths, and so on. Using this calculation, in the third and fourth hour there is an abundance of tidal movement, but in the first and sixth hour, there is much less.

When You Don’t Have Access to a Tide Schedule

If you find yourself out on the water with no knowledge of the tide schedule for the day, all is not lost! Simply look to the water at the shoreline. The tidal current is actually visible – watch closely and you’ll soon see the sea either flowing towards or ebbing away from the land. You can also follow what other boaters appear to be doing, and tune in to your VHF radio for advice on tides.

Getting to know the tides isn’t difficult once you get the hang of reading tide charts and seeing the tide for yourself. Unlike the weather, and whether or not the fish are biting, tides are a relatively stable, predictable part about boating. They change slightly as the moon changes – and slightly more depending on the weather – but for the most part, tides are a constant, integral part of boating. Whenever you are out boating in unfamiliar locations, try and learn as much as possible about the area, which we believe is all part of the fun!

At Van Isle Marina – your go-to boat marina in the Pacific Northwest – we regularly post snapshots of Sidney, BC’s tide schedules on our Twitter page. Our staff love to help our fellow boaters learn about all the ins and outs of boating, including all about tides and weather patterns. Give us a call, come see our boats for sale, or pull up your boat to learn more about why so many people love to moor with us.

How to Enjoy Winter on the Yacht

Winter on the Yacht

Tips & Tricks for Boating in Cold Weather

One of the things most yacht owners love is the freedom to pick up and go whenever the mood strikes – and sometimes the mood strikes during the coldest months of the year. When this happens, boating in the wintertime is fully possible, even out here on the Pacific Northwest!

In the right conditions, boating in the winter can be a true joy. So, keep your boat afloat this winter and continue to go boating or live onboard all year-round with our tips for yachting or boating in cooler temperatures.

what to wear for winter boating

Benefits of Winter Boating

  • Peaceful cruising grounds give you room to move
  • Reduced off-season rates for moorage
  • Increased opportunities to brush up on your night cruising skills
  • Keeps you tide over until the warmer weather comes again
  • Keeps your boat in a usable condition so there is less to do come summer

In no particular order, here are our top tips and tricks for winter boating.

Keep Fuel and Water Tanks Topped Up

winter boating - keep your gas tank full

Fill up your fuel and water tanks at every chance you get in the winter. You’ll want to keep both tanks filled up because fuel berth operating hours are usually reduced in the off-season, and water supplies at marinas might even be turned off completely to protect the pipes during cold snaps.

Keeping your fuel tank topped up also helps reduce condensation from forming in the tank. The fuller the tank, the less room there is for condensation to form. This reduces your chances of a diesel bug forming (microbial contamination of the diesel tank), especially when paired with an additive designed to ward off diesel bugs.

Up the Antifreeze

If you’re leaving your boat in saltwater for the season, chances are the temperature won’t get so low that any leftover water in your engine will freeze, but just to be safe, make sure your engine’s coolant has enough antifreeze in it. This is especially important if a cold snap is forecast, which does happen every now and again around the Gulf Islands. If required, consider adding some antifreeze through your raw water system as well.

Charge Your Batteries

Keep your batteries charged at all costs! This might require taking them home every so often to recharge them, or using a small solar panel if you can source one. Keeping your engine’s batteries fully charged in winter is especially important because starting a cold diesel engine in frigid temperatures uses up more power than it does in the summer.

Vacuum sealed linens for boating in winter

Stow Bedding, Linens, and Cushions Properly

If you’re planning to keep bedding, towels, and other assorted linens on board year-round, make sure to store them properly so they don’t get damp. Keeping them in a vacuum-sealed bag is your best bet. This will help keep everything dry and mildew-free.

As for your fabric cushions, there is no need to vacuum pack them, simply propping them up on their sides or placing them in slated storage is sufficient. Just make sure there is some airflow around them.

Keep Your Decks Ice-Free

Ice can form quickly on your boat’s decks. Fortunately, it’s easy to take care of – simply pour some buckets of saltwater and scrub a little bit and your decks will effortlessly be de-iced and much safer for all on board.

Don’t Stow Stuff Against the Hull

To prevent mildew from forming inside your accommodation level, do not  store stuff against the hull. Clothing, boxes, fishing tackle – you name it – these items should not be pressed up against the hull. If moisture gets trapped between your items and your hull, mildew will develop and things will start to smell.

Only Plan Short Trips

Since you only get a small window of daylight hours in the winter, we recommend planning shorter trips if you’re new to boating in the off-season. If you’d like to go out for longer, aim to leave before dawn so that it is still light outside upon your return. This is not only safer, but likely to be more enjoyable for guests.

Enjoy Hot Drinks & Warm Mealswinter boating tips - bring lots of coffee

Bring more tea, coffee, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate than you ever think you’ll need for your winter boating excursions. Have enough travel mugs for all on board to keep drinks nice and warm. Hot meals will also help. There is no such thing as too much soup when it’s cold outside, but in today’s luxury motor yachts with gourmet kitchens, the sky’s the limit!

Switch Your Gas

If you’re running butane gas, consider switching to propane for the cooler months, since propane is not as likely to freeze as butane.

Dress for Success

Pack plenty of clothing so you always have something dry to switch into. Don’t go for anything too bulky – layers are best at trapping air and keeping you warm while allowing you to move around.

Bring gloves, hats, face masks, scarves, thick socks, and spares of each. Waterproof everything, where possible. Don’t forget your sunglasses as well – the sun does peek its head from time to time during the winter, albeit a lot lower in the sky.

Read More: Sailing Essentials – Important Items to Bring on Your Boat

Pack an Icebreaker

Just in case you come across a marina located close to brackish water, which can freeze in cold weather, you’ll be happy you have a boathook handy.

Keep Lifejackets Dry and Nearby

Lifejackets are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer, probably even more so, as extreme cold temperatures reduce the amount of time you’ll be able to stay conscious in the water. Keep lifejackets dry when not in use and make sure everyone on board has one that fits them and that you all know where they are stored.

Check Your Insurance

Double check your boat’s insurance policy to make sure you are insured year-round if you plan on venturing off in the winter.

Invest in Cozy Cabin Comforts

There are plenty of things you can do to make things comfortable inside your cabin all winter, which all involve keeping condensation at bay.

  • For extra heating, consider diesel space heaters when cruising, or oil-filled radiators when using shore power. Running a small dehumidifier at night can also reduce condensation while you’re sleeping.
  • Bettering your hull’s insulation is labour intensive but might be worth doing if you plan on winter boating year after year. To do so, apply a product called Celotex to the inside of your fibreglass hull, then add headlining over top. This will also help with climate control in the summer.
  • If you can’t get to your whole hull, try adding better window coverings. They needn’t be fancy, even just some cut-to-size insulating board or old foam camping mat can make a difference.
  • A cockpit tent or enclosure can add a bit more protection from the elements while helping to reduce condensation in your cabin. It’s also great for storing wet clothing, as it keeps it away from your living space.
  • Try and use the marina’s showers whenever you can to reduce overall humidity and condensation on your boat, brought on by your onboard shower.

Do you have questions about life on a yacht during the wintertime? Wondering what boat would be best for year-round enjoyment? Contact a yacht broker at Van Isle Marina to learn more.

Old Boating Superstitions

Old Boating Superstitions

19 Things Boaters Used to Be Superstitious About

At Van Isle Marina, we have rounded up some of the most popular superstitions held by boaters. Some of these superstitions are meant to ward off bad luck, while others are meant to bring good luck to everyone on board. Many of the following superstitions date back to the earliest days of sailing – although, like most superstitions, some of their origins remain either unknown or unconfirmed.

Do you abide by any of these old superstitions while onboard your motor yacht or boat?

Bad Luck Omens

These items were said to bring bad luck, and therefore were banned from being on board.

  1. old boating superstitions - bringing bananas on boardBringing Bananas on Board

Back in the day, bananas brought boaters more than just bad luck. They also brought the breeding grounds for spiders and perished too quickly, leading to unpleasant rotting containers of fruit.

The notion of bananas being bad luck on boats is said to have started in the 1700s, during the height of the trading empire between Spain and the Caribbean, where several of the ships that disappeared were carrying banana cargos at the time of their disappearance.

  1. Changing a Boat’s Name

Changing a boat’s name is considered a huge no-no that can lead to bad luck. So, if you purchase a pre-owned vessel, it’s best to leave her name alone to avoid bad luck. The reason is based on Greek mythology, where Poseidon is said to keep a record of every vessel’s name.

If you must change the name of your boat and you are superstitious, be sure to carry through with the ceremony that involves removing all traces of the boat’s name from public record. (A little tough in the age of the Internet, however!) The paperwork with the old name ought to be burned in a wooden box, and the ashes thrown into the sea with the outgoing tide.

  1. Saying the Word “Goodbye” When Departing

Ancient mariners thought that saying the word “goodbye” actually doomed the voyage. Of all the superstitions on this list, this one is still quite popular. It’s a little bit like telling an actor to “break a leg” instead of wishing them “good luck.”

  1. Whistling Towards the Windold boating superstitions - whistling in the wind

Boaters have long believed that whistling towards the wind will “whistle up” stormy weather. We wonder if whistling on the accommodation deck poses the same risk?

  1. Redheads

It used to be believed that redheads in general were unlucky. They weren’t allowed on board, even as guests, and even a boater seeing a red-headed person right before setting sail was considered bad luck.

  1. Women

Having women onboard was also believed to be unlucky. Despite many boats being named after woman, and the presence of female sculptures being used to adorn the bows of vessels, for a time it was thought that women angered the seas, which led to dangerous voyages.

Women were also seen as distractions to ancient mariners, keeping them from their duties, which also led to dangerous voyages.

  1. Never Set Sail with Someone Who Has Debts to Payold boating superstitions - seeing a shark

If there were no other signs of bad luck to blame when things go awry on a vessel, mariners might default to blaming any seaman on board who hasn’t settled his debts before setting sail.

  1. Seeing a Shark or Manta Ray

Seeing a shark’s fin swimming near your boat was said to be a bad omen; it signified that death was near – and not necessarily by the jaws of the shark. Seeing a manta ray was just as nerve-wrecking.

  1. Setting Sail on a Thursday or a Friday

When it comes to sailing, it’s not just Friday the 13th that should be avoided – it’s all Fridays. The superstition of Friday being considered an unlucky day to start a voyage is said to have religious roots, with some people believing it’s likely because of Jesus Christ being crucified on a Friday.old boating superstitions - never set sail on a Fridays

Thursdays are also considered by some to be bad sailing days because Thursdays are “Thor’s day” – Thor being the Greek god of thunder and storms.

Good Luck Omens

These items and routines were said to bring good luck, and were therefore encouraged to be on board or practiced.

  1. Setting Sail on a Sunday

Old sailing superstitions state that Sundays are the luckiest day to set sail.

  1. Tattoos & Piercings

Gold hoops were considered not just good luck, but they also signified when a boater had sailed around the world or crossed the equator. Many boaters also believed nautical tattoos were good luck, with both piercings and tattoos warding off evil spirits.

  1. Stepping onto a Boat with Your Right Foot

Which foot you use to take the first step onto your boat before a journey is said to bring either good luck or bad luck. The right foot is the good luck foot, while stepping on with your left foot first is to be avoided.

  1. Having Cats on Boardold boating superstitions - having cats on board

Cats served the important function of rat control onboard cargo ships back in the day. Seeing one or inviting one onto your vessel was inviting good luck to come your way (and less rats!). On the flip side, a cat thrown overboard meant extreme bad luck or even death was on the horizon. Boaters strove to keep their cats content and happy for this reason.

  1. Seabirds & Dolphins

Seeing an almighty albatross was considered good luck, which meant that killing one was definitely bad luck. Likewise, swallows and gulls were also considered good luck birds. The souls of perished boaters were said to live in seabirds, so their presence was welcomed.

Seeing dolphins swimming in line with your boat was also a sign of good luck.

  1. Pouring Wine on the Deck

In the earliest days of sailing and yachting, pouring wine on the deck was said to bring good luck. Nowadays it just sounds like a mess and a waste of wine!

  1. Hanging Horseshoes

Hanging a horseshoe on a ship’s mast was done to turn away stormy weather.

  1. Tossing Coins Overboardred sky at night sailors delight

Throwing a few coins into the sea as a boat left a port was said to be the same as paying a small toll to Neptune, the Roman god of the sea, to ensure a safe voyage.

  1. Seeing Red Skies at Night

Seeing a red sky at night, as in the phrase, “red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky in morning, sailors take warning” is still considered a popular superstition, and perhaps the only one on this list based on science. A red sunset is said to indicate stable air and high pressure coming from the west. On the other hand, a red sky at dawn is a marker for rain and stormy seas.

Learn more about the history of yachting.

If you’re in the market for a new boat or yacht, there is plenty to choose from here at Van Isle Marina. We specialize in Riviera Yachts and Pursuit Boats and also showcase a wide variety of pre-owned yachts. Come visit us in Sidney, BC near Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal!

Sailing Around the world in a yacht

Tips for Long Range Cruising

Sailing Around the World? Here’s How to Prepare

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

Read More: Important Items to Bring on Your Boat

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

Be Sure the Boating Lifestyle is Right For You

enjoying life yachting around the world

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VHF Marine Radio Etiquette

VHF Marine Radio Etiquette

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Take a VHF Course & Get Certified

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

VHF marine radio etiquette

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

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

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

Now, let’s move on to radio etiquette.

10 Basic Rules to Marine Radio Etiquette

1. Keep chatter to a minimum on open channels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Learn and use the NATO phonetic alphabet.

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

8. Read numbers as single digits.

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

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

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

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

10. Watch your language

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

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

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

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!

 

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.

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.

Different Types of Anchors

Anchor Types – Part 1

Different Types of Anchors

Learn about the different styles of anchors and how to select the right anchor for your motor yacht

Knowing how to anchor your boat when necessary is an essential boating skill. In part one of our two-part post on anchoring, we share an introduction to selecting the right anchor for your boat.

Anchoring Your Boat

Anchoring your boat refers to securing it in place in the open sea for hours, days, or months at a time without the use of a dock or a moor. (See our guide to understanding the differences between anchoring, docking, and mooring). There are many instances when you might need to anchor a boat, including:

types of boat anchors

  • Spending the night at sea
  • During stormy weather
  • Taking a fishing or swimming break
  • Getting fueled up
  • Retiring the boat for the season
  • Relaxing to enjoy the scenery

How Many Anchors Do You Need?

Anchoring your boat involves dropping a large heavy object that is attached to your boat into the water, where it latches itself to the seabed with hooks and suction to keep the boat in place. You can anchor your boat anywhere you’re legally allowed to if you have an anchor cable, known as an anchor rode, that’s long enough (multiply the depth of your desired location – from the top of your bow to the bottom of the seabed – by 7, or by 5 if you have a heavier, all-chain rode to determine the scope).

Most luxury motor yachts come with built-in anchoring systems located at the bow and concealed from view, which takes the guesswork out of which size and weight of anchor is best for your vessel, but if you’ll be anchoring in rough seas and/or varying types of sea beds, we recommend carrying an additional anchor or two of varying styles and sizes.

For example, your boat’s main anchor is a great, all-purpose anchor for extended periods. However, if you’ll be making frequent stops and anchoring often, an anchor one or two sizes smaller that’s easy to deploy and pull up would be considered an asset.

Likewise, a storm anchor one or two sizes larger would provide more peace of mind during rough weather or for overnight stops. In addition, it’s always good to have at least one heavy backup in case you lose an anchor, or for situations where it’s wise to use two anchors.

Choosing the right anchor

There are several different types of boating anchors available. Each one is designed for various types of sea beds (i.e., mud, grass, sand, coral, or rock). The type of seabed you’re navigating will determine which anchor is most suitable to use. For motor yachts in the Pacific Northwest, a fluke/Danforth anchor is considered a general-purpose anchor. Carrying both a fluke anchor and a scoop style anchor is recommended.

types of anchors - fluke anchor

Fluke Anchors

The modern fluke anchor, also called the Lightweight or Danforth, works in both soft mud and hard sand. Once made out of iron, today’s fluke anchors are aluminum, lightweight and consist of two flat, pointed, pivoting flukes that extend at a 30º angle from the anchor rod. Fluke anchors stow flat and have an excellent holding-power-to-weight ratio. Fluke anchors are those iconic-looking anchors most recognized by the general population (i.e. non-boaters). They are not suitable for grassy or rocky surfaces.

Plow and Scoop Anchors anchor styles - plow anchor

Plow or scoop anchors are single point anchors that are good for grass, mud, and sand. Similar to fluke anchors, both plow and scoop anchors are heavier and have a plow-shaped wedge attached by a swivel to the shaft.

Mushroom Anchorstypes of anchors - mushroom anchor

Shaped like an upside-down mushroom, mushroom anchors don’t have any way of gripping the seabed; rather, they are heavy and burrow under sediment, which is where their holding power comes from. Mushroom anchors should only be used for small boats like inflatable boats, rowboats, and canoes in heavily weeded areas for short stops only.

Specialized Anchors

Additional anchors on the market include the Grapnel, Herreshoff anchors, Delta, and Claw:

  • Grapnel: a shank with four or more tines small enough to hook into rocky bottoms. Best used in rocky bottoms.
  • Herreshoff: has small diamond shaped flukes or palms and can be stowed in 3 pieces.
  • Delta: a plow anchor with a rigid, arched shank that is self-launching.
  • Admiralty or Fisherman Anchor: the classic anchor design that consists of a central shank with a ring or shackle for attaching the rode.
  • Bruce or claw anchor: a claw-shaped anchor that is a variation of the plow design intended to have more staying power. Best used in rocky bottoms.

If you’re unsure of what style of anchor is best for your boat, always consult with a boating expert. One of our boating experts at Van Isle Marina will be happy to answer your questions.

Anchor Weight

The size of anchor you’ll need for your vessel will be specified by the boat’s manufacturer. Note that for larger boats, a working anchor and a storm anchor are recommended, with the storm anchor being twice as heavy as the working anchor. For 30’ boats, a working anchor weight of 700 lbs is recommended, and for 60’ boats, that number jumps to 2,000 lbs for the working anchor.

We recommend using a larger anchor than specified if there is an unusual amount of weight being carried on your boat. The physical size of the anchor and its type is more important than its weight, but always go for a larger anchor when in doubt.

Anchor Quality: Although they might not seem like it, anchors are an important piece of safety equipment – always buy high-quality anchors. If you are buying a pre-owned anchor, inspect it for rust, poor welding lines, and other inconsistencies in the metal.

Deck Cleats and Rollers: You also need to have the right type of deck cleats or anchor rollers for your anchors. If you may have a bow roller mounted on your boat already, just know that each roller is only suitable for specific types of anchors. If you don’t have an anchor housing on your boat already, make sure you have strong, sturdy deck cleats for tying the anchor to.

Anchor Chain or Rope?

With your anchor selection made, it’s time to pick the anchor line you’ll attach your anchor to. This line is called the anchor rode, and is typically metal chain, nylon rope, or a combination of the two.

Metal Chain is more expensive but requires less replacement over the years. It also helps to drop the anchor more quickly.

Nylon is strong, easy to manipulate, and relatively cheap to use. It also works well during sudden wind and current changes. However, it can snag or tear more easily and need to be replaced more often than chain.

Many boaters opt for using a combination of both materials and are more concerned with having the rode be of sufficient diameter. For example, aim for nylon rope should be 3/16″ (4.8mm) in diameter for a vessel under 10′ (3m) in length and 3/8″ (9.5mm) for a vessel under 20′ (6m). Increase the diameter by an additional eighth of an inch for each additional 10 feet of your vessel length.

When you buy a boat or yacht through Van Isle Marina, our boating experts will help familiarize you with your yacht’s anchoring system, so you feel confident you are prepared for anything when out on the water.

Give us a call or stop by to learn more about how we can help you develop your boating skills.