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Gulf Island Getaways in British Columbia

Gulf Island Getaways

Explore BC’s Famed Southern and Northern Gulf Islands by Boat

The Southern and Northern Gulf Islands are located just off the coast of Vancouver Island. Whether you’re looking for a family wilderness adventure or a bit of pampering at one of the many resorts, the Gulf Islands deliver. Because all the islands offer their own special welcome and slice of island life, you can’t go wrong with whichever destination you choose. 

Planning a longer trip? You can easily cruise around the entire group of islands and islets starting from either the south or north set of Gulf Islands. Because of their mild Mediterranean climate and calm waters, all of the Gulf Islands are great to visit anytime. They’re the busiest from May-September when visitors flock to the endless stretch of sandy beach at Hornby Island’s Tribune Bay, or the lively market at Ganges Village on Saltspring Island. 

For private moorage, try Cabbage Island or Wallace Island. These are located just between Saturna and Galiano Islands and boast their own white-sand beaches and incredible sunsets. A fantastic spot for a picnic and to snorkel and scuba, these tiny islands will have you feeling like you’re alone in the world. Read on for more about visiting the Gulf Islands.

Major Gulf Islands to Explore

Gabriola IslandGabriola Island - Gulf Islands, BC

Just 5 kilometres from Nanaimo’s harbour, Gabriola Island provides a great starting point for any Gulf Island exploration. With gorgeous beaches, warm water and a growing residential community, Gabriola is known as Isle of the Arts, offering annual studio tours and the opportunity to meet one on one with its many artisans. With great moorage and a variety of accommodations, you can easily settle in for a day or a week on this laid-back island.

 

Galiano IslandGaliano Island - Gulf Islands, BC

Called the Gem of the Salish Sea, Galiano Island offers beaches created from sandstone galleries, hiking, whale watching, golfing and spa accommodations. Montague Marine Park is one of the oldest Provincial Parks in all the Gulf Islands and is still the most popular with its unique white shell beach. Montague Marina and Harbour is ideal for small craft with power and a fuel dock and is a good starting point for exploring all Galiano has to offer.

 

Pender Islandpender island - Gulf Islands, BC

For access to all amenities and slips for boats up to 100 feet, Pender Island is the perfect place to moor. For excellent dining and a cozy sleep on land, book a stay at Poet’s Cove. At this 4-star resort, you’ll enjoy outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs, the Susurrus Spa, eucalyptus steam cave and your choice of cottage, villa or lodge room. Enjoy 5 freshwater lakes on North and South Pender Islands, fish for cod, flounder, snapper, salmon and trout, hit the links at the golf course, meander along gentle hills or hike up Mt. Daniel for rewarding views of the harbour. 

 

Salt Spring IslandSalt Spring Island BC

Salt Spring Island has become a world-class destination and a mecca for everything from artisans to luxury resorts. First developed on apple orchards and farming, Salt Spring offers a wide variety of activities, luxury accommodations, gorgeous beaches and top-quality farm to table organic food and wine. Visitors to Saltspring can moor at any one of its three marinas: Ganges, Musgrave Landing, or Salt Spring Marina. Salt Spring Island is also home to a large sailing club, so you’ll always be in good company. 

 

Saturna Island - Gulf Islands, BC

Saturna Island

Saturna Island offers boat launches at Lyall Harbour and Winter Cove. With a tiny population of 350 year-round residents and limited accommodations, it’s recommended to reserve your trip well in advance. Enjoy clear views of Mt. Baker, seal-watch at East Point Park, and relax in the sand at Thomson Park. A much more remote getaway that’s still mainly undeveloped, Saturna is an excellent spot to unwind.

 

Thetis IslandThetis Island - Gulf Islands, BC

Originally joined with Penelakut (Kuper) Island, Thetis become its own island when a shallow cut was dredged back in 1905 to allow boat traffic. Today, what’s known as “The Cut” is a stunning passage between the two islands, allowing access to popular Telegraph Harbour. If you’re going to be cruising through The Cut, it’s important to watch tides carefully in this shallow passage. With roughly the same population as Saturna, Thetis is home to a close-knit community, sandstone beaches and two marinas (Telegraph Harbour and Thetis Island Marina and Pub.) 

 

Denman IslandDenman Island - Gulf Island, BC

10 minutes from Buckley Bay, Denman and Hornby Island provide some excellent island-hopping opportunities. The Denman Island Community Dock is a public wharf just down the hill from the main village, making it a great place to moor and restock supplies at the General Store, or grab a freshly baked treat from Irma’s Kitchen. 

 

Hornby IslandHornby Island - Gulf Islands, BC

Hornby Island is decidedly more developed and has something for every member of the family.  Sometimes called Canada’s Hawaii, it features long stretches of smooth sandy beaches and crystal-clear water for world-famous diving. Spend the day picnicking and playing on the warm sand, exploring the forest, practicing yoga with the locals and then wind down with a visit to Island Stars for some guided stargazing. Spend the night rocking in the gentle waves at Ford’s Cove or book a stay with one of the nearby resorts or B&B’s.

 

Texada IslandTexada Island - Gulf Islands, BC

The largest of the Gulf Islands, Texada is known as “the rock” and is home to a full range of amenities including moorage at Sturt (Marble) Bay. Ideal for watching whales and dolphins from the shore, Texada is a naturalist’s paradise as well. Discover incredible archeological sites, see the waterfalls at Stromberg Falls, or hike around one (or two!) of the ten lakes on the island.  You can also explore the secluded bays and coves of nearby Jedediah Island. 

 

We live in an incredible area of the world, with limitless options for outdoor recreation, wildlife watching, fishing and more. Thinking about upgrading your boat before the new season begins? We offer a wide variety of new luxury Pursuit boats as well as pre-loved yachts and cruisers. Whether you’re looking for a yacht big enough to host a large party, or for a cozy getaway for two, our team at Van Isle Marina looks forward to helping you find the perfect boat for your next trip. Contact us via phone or web form to get started or come see us in sunny Sidney, BC.

*Please note some destinations have been intentionally left off the list due to Covid-19 visitor regulations. Because conditions and closures are set to change at any time, please check current Gulf Islands closures.

Spending Xmas on Board Your Boat

Celebrating Christmas On Board Your Yacht

Thinking about doing Christmas a little differently this year? If you can’t get away for your usual warm-weather vacation, consider celebrating out on the water.

Celebrating Christmas on board your boat

Just imagine waking up nestled all snug in your berth, cuddled up to the one you love. The boat gently rocking, the tabletop Christmas tree aglow, and coffee percolating on the stovetop. You’re anchored at your favourite quiet harbour. No one else is around and you feel total peace and tranquility.

Do you feel more relaxed already? Why not try a scaled-down Christmas celebration on your boat? Make sure your boat is winter-ready, then string some lights, grab a 2-foot tree and get ready to create a truly unforgettable holiday!

Décor and Ambience

Décor is quintessential to really feeling that holiday spirit. There’s nothing quite like the twinkling of lights and the scents of spice and cedar in the air to evoke nostalgia and joy. Some ideas:

  • String up a live or faux garland around the cabin. You can make your own fragrant garland with dried orange peels, popcorn and scented pinecones
  • Hang a fresh cedar bough or wreath from the cabin door
  • If you have the table space, consider a tabletop tree. A potted ornamental is a great option for a live tree. Decorate it with cute miniature ornaments and twinkle lightsSpending Christmas Aboard Your Boat
  • Add faux tea light candles to an unbreakable candleholder for instant ambience
  • Hang lights inside and out. Hang a single string or go all out and create an eye-catching display. The newer LED lights don’t get hot, making them a safe option for any space. *One note: LED’s are extremely efficient, but always make sure that your generator can support the additional load created from having lights on. Alternatively, you can use battery operated lights
  • Change up your pillow covers and bedding. Plaids are always stylish for winter, without being too garish, and they really add a warm, cozy feeling. Add a knitted or faux fur throw for an extra layer of comfort
  • Don’t forget the music! Holiday tunes are an essential part of that Christmassy feeling. Impressive audio systems now come standard with many newer boats and include features like built in speakers throughout

Gifting

Space is at a premium on pretty much any boat, unless you are the proud owner of a superyacht or megayacht.

Some gift ideas for kids from one to ninety-two

  • E-book gift card or bookchristmas on board your boat - giving gifts
  • Board or card game for everyone to bond over
  • Magnetic building blocks
  • Animal figurines
  • Flashlights
  • Fishing gear (tackle box, floats, etc…)
  • Watersports gear
  • Pocket knife / multi-tool
  • Walkie talkies
  • Fish finder
  • Fishing rod

Boatmodo also has some other very cool and practical gift ideas for boaters right here.

Food and Drink

The beauty of having an intimate Christmas is that you can serve something as simple as turkey burgers with cranberry sauce. You can also go bigger and barbecue a roast, chicken or ham to really emulate the feeling of a decadent feast. There’s probably nothing better for the avid fisherperson than spending Christmas Day fishing then pairing the catch with festive side dishes.

Other ideas for a modern, downsized holiday feast, courtesy of The Spruce Eats

Pan Roasted Fillet of Duck Breast– Make the sauce in advance and it’s a snap to create a luxurious breast of duck in lieu of turkey or chicken. As long as you have a skillet and an oven, you can easily make this

Pear Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola– Skip the prepackaged salad mix and make your own quick and easy pear salad. There’s no cooking required, so it goes from fridge to plate in no time.

Christmas food on your boat - Garlic Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower-Easy to make ahead or roast on your barbecue, roasted cauliflower is nothing like the bland, soggy cauliflower you might remember from your childhood holidays. Instead, it shines with a few simple ingredients.

For a carefree meal, prep ingredients or even just cook your favourite sides ahead of time and just store them in your fridge, freezer, or insulated storage. Reheat using your oven or microwave once the main part of the meal is cooked so the meat has time to rest and everything is hot and delicious.

Cooking in a galley is obviously a lot different from cooking in the average kitchen. There’s not as much surface area, the boat is moving, you’re carefully conserving propane, and more. To make it simpler, here are 13 tips for cooking on your boat, courtesy of the boatgalley.com.

If you’re ready to make this dream a reality, it might be time to treat yourself to a new or upgraded boat this holiday season! The gift that keeps on giving, a new boat is guaranteed to be at the centre of your adventures for years to come. Contact our knowledgeable team of broker elves or stop by our world-class sales dock to take a look at our selection of luxurious Pursuit Boats and new and pre-owned yachts today. At Van Isle Marina, we’ll help you find the perfect boat for your fishing, cruising and holidaying wishes.

Vancouver Island Anchorages

Vancouver Island Anchorages

How to Sail Around Vancouver Island

The largest island off the West Coast of North America, Vancouver Island is a boater’s dream come true, offering every vista and experience you can possibly imagine. Sail alongside a pod of pacific white-sided dolphins, explore ancient petroglyphs on shore and toast spectacular sunsets as your yacht bobs in the waves.

If you’re up for a longer trip, it will take anywhere from 3-6 weeks to circumnavigate the entire island if you sail with the Northwest winds (counter-clockwise.) Some boaters take months to slowly explore every inch of Vancouver Island and its many coves and inlets.

Using the example of a full circle route of the Island, we’ve chosen anchorages in secluded coves as well as busier marinas and harbours. Whether you cruise around the Gulf Islands or go further afield to more remote locations, this list highlights key anchorages around Vancouver Island.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - British Columbia's Bedwell Harbour

Gulf Islands

The group of Gulf Islands has many excellent anchorages. Bedwell Harbour off South Pender Island is a great choice as a sheltered anchorage with plenty of amenities including resorts and a Canadian Customs office.

If you don’t need any amenities and want a quiet spot instead, try Cabbage Island, a small island that usually has plenty of room to anchor.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - East Coast of Vancouver Island

East Coast of Vancouver Island

If you’re heading into Stuart Channel and Dodd Narrows, Genoa Bay is ideal for waiting out the tide and avoiding the heavy traffic around Chemainus’ Telegraph Harbour. If you need to restock any supplies or refuel, however, Telegraph Harbour is a good place to stop.

Further up, Mark Bay on Newcastle Island’s (Saysutshun’s) south side is a quiet place to anchor for a night or two.

Sailing around Vancouver Island - Discovery Passage

Discovery Passage

Discovery Passage connects the Strait of Georgia with Johnstone Strait. A long and narrow stretch, Discovery Passage is where casual boaters tend to turn around, since navigating the congested waters of the passage can be a challenge. It’s worth the challenge though, since the Discovery Passage is the start of true wilderness, leading to Desolation Sound.

Anchor in Campbell River or at Brown Bay or Granite Bay on Quadra Island (part of the Discovery Islands trio) while you plan your route northward. Campbell River and Comox are the last large cities you’ll see as you head towards the Johnstone Strait.

Sailing Around Van Isle - Johnstone Strait

Johnstone Strait

Best travelled earlier in the day to avoid stronger afternoon wind, Johnstone Strait has breathtaking scenery and is home to Robson Bight Ecological Reserve, aprotective zone for orcas.

Johnstone Strait has many protected anchorages on either side, including Chatham Point– a good pit stop for checking weather and wind conditions before starting into the Strait. Favourite anchorages in the Strait include the Walkem Islands, the large Port Harvey and Humpback Bay.

Queen Charlotte Strait - Walker Group Anchorage

Queen Charlotte Strait (East)

The Eastern Queen Charlotte Strait is a fishing mecca. With very productive waters, there are remote resorts, and hundreds of uninhabited and secluded coves to drop anchor. As you enter Retreat Passage, there are several islands and coves for anchorage, su

ch as Heath Bay and Laura Cove.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - Sointula on Malcolm Island - Queen Charlotte Strait

Queen Charlotte Strait (West)

In Telegraph Cove, the Village of Sointula on Malcolm Island has food, gas, and a marine hardware store. Malcolm Island offers wonderful whale watching opportunities and protected anchorages. Back on mainland Vancouver Island, Port McNeill and Port Hardy are the last two small cities in Vancouver Island North and are popular anchorage spots.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - Bull Harbour

West Coast of Vancouver Island

A challenging trip at the best of times, the Inside Passage (leading to Alaska) or Cape Scott are the two routes to take to go around the northernmost tip of the island. If you decide to go around Cape Scott, plan carefully. On Hope Island, Bull Harbour is a good place to stop and get your bearings before continuing onward.

Nahwitti Bar leads to Cape Scott and can only be crossed when the wind and water are calm, and this area shouldn’t be attempted by small crafts. A good way to ensure a safe crossing is to follow behind a fishing boat or to follow Tatnall Reefs, a calmer channel along the shore. That route will add a few nautical miles, but it’s worth it to avoid the fast current and swells. Once you’ve reached the start of Cape Scott, take the time to enjoy the awe-inspiring Cape Scott Provincial Park.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - Cape Scott - West Coast Vancouver Island

Cape Scott

Continuing along Cape Scott there are no anchorages, so you must boat all the way through until you reach Quatsino Sound. You’ll always be in the company of commercial fishing boats, but it’s very important to be aware of the current, dangerous rocks and winds. Once you see the lighthouse, the toughest part of the journey is over.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - Quatsino Sound

Quatsino Sound

Largely uninhabited and wild, Quatsino Sound is a rugged area that deserves to be explored. Hansen Bay is a historic site, sandy San Josef Bay offers three spots for anchorage– Hanna Point Bight, San Josef Inner Bay North and San Josef Inner Bay South.

Winter Harbour is a gorgeous place and a popular anchorage with a fully stocked store. Inner Quatsino Sound is the first large sound on the West Coast and offers plenty of protected harbour as well as access to Hwy 19 back down the Island.

Van Isle Anchorages - Checleset Bay

Brooks Bay, Brooks Peninsula and Checleset Bay

The best anchorage in the Brooks Bay,

Brooks Peninsula and Checleset Bay areas is Clerke Point, in the southern end of the peninsula. Brooks Bay itself is a tough area to cross, with no anchorages in the narrow and deep Klaskino Inlet and Klashkish Narrows.

In comparison, Checleset Bay is much calmer and easier to navigate, and you can go further out to sea or stay closer to Nasparti Inlet and anchorages in Columbia and Baidarka Coves.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - Kyuquot Sound

Kyuquot Sound

Walters Cove Resort is an ideal place to anchor at the public wharf and stock up on supplies. There are many places for anchorage within the Sound and it’s best to access these via Kyuquot Channel, rather than Crowther Channel. Kyuquot Bay on Union Island is a popular anchorage, as well as Surprise Island.

Van Isle Anchorages - Nootka Sound

Nootka Sound

Tahsis Narrows leads to Tahsis Inlet and many calm and quiet anchorages with amazing scenery. Many of these are meant for small boats, like Santa Gertrudis Cove and Jewett Cove on Strange Island. The village of Tahsis has anchorage and some amenities. Deeper waters can be found in Tlupana Inlet, better suited for larger craft. Critter Cove and Galiano Bay are just two of many protected anchorages in the area.

Clayoquot SoundVancouver Island Anchorages - Clayoquot Sound

To reach Clayoquot Sound, you must go through Estevan Point first. It can be a challenge with rougher waters, but that quickly settles once you reach Hesquiat Harbour. The water can get very busy along Flores, Vargas and Meares Island, but there are still many little anchorages in Sydney Inlet like Riley Cove and Young Bay.

Tranquilito Cove in Tranquil Inlet lives up to its name with a more remote location and warm, protected waters. The village of Tofino has anchorage, including their public wharf.

Vancouver Island Anchorages - Barkley Sound

Barkley Sound

A very popular tourist destination, Barkley Sound is the busiest Sound on Vancouver Island’s West Coast. Many boaters prefer to anchor and explore the many islands and islets from a dinghy. Ucluelet Inlet and Bamfield Inlet are more open and easier to access than Alberni Inlet, which is best for small crafts that can navigate the steep and narrow topography.

Cape BealeVancouver Island Anchorages - Cape Beale

Leading back to the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Cape Beale will take you to the northern entrance of the Juan de Fuca Strait.  Prevailing winds that pick up in the afternoons make it best to cross this passage in the morning. The best anchorage sites are Sooke Harbour and Sooke Basin in the Sooke Inlet. Further south, downtown Victoria offers plenty of moorage and all the amenities you could want or need. The last stretch along Haro Strait leads to the Saanich Peninsula, where our full service marina awaits you.

 

The Gateway to Vancouver Island, Sidney is home to Van Isle Marina, where we offer covered and uncovered moorage available annually, monthly or nightly. Do you have questions about trip planning and logistics? Need to fuel up? Our dock store located on the fuel dock is fully stocked with cruising guides, charts, tide books and many other supplies needed for a successful trip. Come visit us at 2320 Harbour Rd in Sidney, BC.

Boat Only Destinations Around Vancouver Island

Secret Secluded Areas off the Beaten Path

Touring Vancouver Island – 8 Secluded Destinations You Can Get to by Boat

 

Owning a boat is like having a ticket to the most exclusive locations around Vancouver Island. From jaw-dropping coves and inlets to trails leading to hidden crystal-clear lakes, stunning ocean vistas and serene campsites, boating here means you can experience the power and beauty of the coast firsthand. Landing in places where RVers cannot or do not dare to go, your yacht will let you access secluded spots where you can moor for a few hours or a few days, or even go ashore and experience wilderness camping.

Vancouver Island and Coastal BC is a haven for natural wonders, so your chances are very good that no matter which location you choose to venture to, you’ll find a quiet space to enjoy. Remember that there is always an empty shoreline around the next corner.

The diverse geography, tidal patterns and landscapes of Desolation Sound, the Gulf Islands and the Sunshine Coast create an incredibly varied ecosystem with endless opportunities for exploration.

Eight Secluded Destinations

Cabbage Island, BC

Cabbage Island Marine Park

Not many boaters make the journey to Cabbage Island and with its white sand beaches, you’ll feel like you’re in paradise when you land. Part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Cabbage Island is a tiny island that neighbours Tumbo and Saturna Islands. The Anchorage has 10 mooring buoys and while relatively sheltered, there can be some strong winds off the Strait of Georgia. On Cabbage Island you can sunbathe, picnic, scuba dive among the reefs and fish the day away.

 

Desolation Sound, BC

Desolation Sound

With over 6,000 acres of shoreline, Desolation Sound is the largest marine park in BC and the perfect place to find your new favourite anchorage spot. Most anchorage locations are sheltered and enclosed by topography that ranges from low shoreline to mountainsides. Despite its name, coined by Cpt. George Vancouver for its forbidding-looking terrain, Desolation Sound has warm water for swimming, scuba diving, paddling and salmon fishing. It’s a yachter’s paradise thanks to the calm waters and many sheltered bays, as well as endless islands and archipelagos to explore.

 

Pirates Cove Marine Provincial Park, De Courcy Island, British Columbia, Canada.

Pirates Cove (Decourcy Island)

While Pirates Cove is popular among boaters, the sheltered anchorage makes it ideal for mooring off the coastline. Another great way to experience the Southern Gulf Islands, Decourcy Island has two dinghy docks and has picnic facilities, non-potable cold water via hand pump, pit toilets, and 6 walk-in campsites. This is a great starting point for off the beaten path exploration.

 

Savary Island, BCSavary Island

In the Sunshine Coast, Savary Island feels almost tropical, with white sandy beaches and a warm southern tide. Only 7.5 KM long, Savary is home to sand dunes, ancient forest and dune meadows, making it one of the most diverse (and sensitive) ecosystems on the coast. Savary has no power or public camping and only a handful of accommodations for overnight guests—designed to maintain the natural beauty of the island. At the entrance to Desolation Sound, Savary Island has been known as a cottage destination since the 1930’s and has about 100 permanent residents.

 

Thurston Bay Marine Park

Thurston Bay Marine Provincial Park (Sonora Island)

In Johnstone Strait, Thurston Bay Provincial Park provides sheltered anchorage and is undeveloped, with no facilities. Random camping and small campfires are allowed. Small, scenic beaches and a trail leading to Florence Lake (great for swimming and fishing) make this an ideal place to anchor and explore.

 

Wallace Island, BCWallace Island Provincial Park

Between Saltspring and Galiano Islands, Wallace Island Provincial Park is an ideal place to explore the Southern Gulf Islands at a quieter port. It is open for day use and camping at its 18 walk-in campsites which have basic facilities, a small dock at Conover Cove and sheltered anchorage with stern tie ups at Conover Cove as well as Princess Bay. For vessels less than 11 m (36 ft), anchorage is further out in the cove. Wallace Island Park offers swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and hiking as well as access to many coves and beaches – just one more way to enjoy this park. Note that due to reefs, shoals and low tides in the cove, boaters must use caution to avoid grounding.

 

Walsh Cove Provincial ParkWalsh Cove Provincial Park (West Redonda Island)

Though named a Provincial Park, Walsh Cove is undeveloped and very secluded. It’s excellent for swimming, diving, fishing and kayaking and is a safe, scenic place to anchor. North of Desolation Sound on the Waddington Channel, it’s one of several marine parks in the Sound.

 

Whaleboat Island Marine ParkWhaleboat Island Marine Provincial Park

Open for day use, this is an islet in the Decourcy group of islands. Tiny Whaleboat Island is undeveloped and features a stunning, sheltered intertidal shoreline that is perfect for boating and paddling. Between Ruxton and Pylades, it’s a great spot to watch for transient Orcas as well as watch the flocks of Cormorants and Oystercatchers.

To help you plan your trip off the beaten path, take a look at our guide to prepping for long boat trips for information on everything from preparing your yacht, stocking your boat with the best foods and all the essentials, as well as planning your route. Pick up a tide chart at the Dock Store as backup for your navigation system and top up at the fuel dock before you set out.

If you’re looking for a new boat or yacht to see even more of what the West Coast has to offer, our team at Van Isle Marina is happy to help match you with the perfect boat for your needs, whether that’s for fishing, scuba diving, or island-hopping. Come down to our world-class sales dock at 2320 Harbour Road near the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal and explore our wide range of pre-owned yachts and boats for sale.

best nature spots on vancouver island

Best Nature Spots on Vancouver Island

Top Nature Destinations from South to North Vancouver Island

A haven for natural wonders, Vancouver Island has so many incredible places to experience. Depending on whether you’re looking for a day trip or a multi-day exploration, a coastal or an inland excursion, we’ve created a list of nature spots that you might not hear about every day. Teeming with wildlife, these tend to be quieter since they’re just a bit more off the beaten path.  Whether you hike, bike, meander, spelunk, dive, or paddle, there’s something here for everyone, from ancient rainforest to magnificent sandy beaches.

Mystic Beach, Vancouver Island, BC

Mystic Beach

An hour and a half from Victoria, Mystic Beach is one of the most scenic beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At the end of a short 2 km rainforest trail with a suspension bridge, Mystic is home to sandstone cliffs topped by cedar and fir trees. A waterfall from the cliffs makes its way into every traveller’s photo and a rope swing dares visitors to swing into the ocean below. Time your visit with the low tide so you can walk under the waterfall and explore the galleries and tidepools.

Avatar Grove, Vancouver Island, BCAvatar Grove

Visit Avatar Grove along the Gordon River, and you’ll leave feeling humbled. Walk amongst the giants in this stand of protected cedars and firs. Just 20 minutes from the small community of Port Renfrew, Avatar Grove is a 50-hectare area of old-growth forest. It’s home to newly famous trees such as Canada’s Gnarliest Tree and Big Lonely Doug—the last giant left standing among a former clear cut. The upper and lower hikes are easy loops that take about 15-20 minutes along moss-covered trails, board walks and stairs, but most visitors meander much longer than that, awed by what they find. If you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can explore further up the road to find old Lonely Doug and a stunning view of the Gordon River Canyon.

Castle GroveCastle Grove, Vancouver Island, BC

Home to the Upper and Lower Wahlbran Falls along the Upper Wahlbran River, this stand of ancient Red Cedars is south of Lake Cowichan and Honeymoon Bay. Largely undiscovered by tourists, Castle Grove is a true back-to-nature paradise where hikers can enjoy a half-day hike (3-4 hours for the full loop) complete with Emerald Pools for swimming and exploring. Camp along the Lower Falls or backpack along a 13 km trail to Anderson Lake.

Chemainus River Estuary, Vancouver Island Aerial Photography, British Columbia, Canada.Chemainus River Estuary

Estuaries are a hotbed of natural activity where the lines between the land, river and ocean blend. From explosions of wildflowers in the spring to warm wading pools in the summer, there’s so much to see at the Chemainus River Estuary. Easily accessible from Chemainus Rd, it’s just a short walk along a network of trails leading to grassy marshes and coastal views. Owned by Ducks Unlimited, the 200-hectare estuary is a hidden treasure and home to a wide variety of raptors, shore birds, waterfowl, mammals and fish.

The Dark Side Trail (the Grotto)Dark Side Trail, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

A short 1 km hike following the south side of the Nanaimo River in Cassidy, there is so much to see in a small space. The Dark Side isn’t so much as a hike as it is an exploration, with multiple bridges, ladders to climb, boulders to crawl over and caves to explore. It’s a favourite spot for local climbers as well, with clips already installed in a few spots along the rock faces. Bring a lunch to enjoy while you take in the riverside views. Check out more great Central Island hiking spots.

Moorecroft Regional Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaMoorecroft Regional Park

Located in Nanoose Bay, Moorecroft is the former site of a summer/year-round camp. Picnic in the meadow, search for owls along the groomed trails lined with craggy old Garry Oaks, explore tide pools and swim or paddle in the calm waters of the bay. You can often see sealions and seals off the shoreline while taking in panoramic views of the Coastal Mountains. It’s easy to while away an entire day at Moorecroft Regional Park and there’s always something new to discover in this oceanfront park.

China BowlsChina Bowls, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Located on Perseverance Creek (also known as Perseverance Potholes) in Cumberland, the China Bowls is a small but dramatic landscape with plenty to explore. Accessed by a well-groomed 4 km loop, the “bowls” are made of carved rock formations of all shapes and sizes. With caramel coloured swirls and a smooth surface, this is a great example of the power of nature changing the landscape over thousands/millions of years.

San Josef Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CanadaSan Josef Bay

San Josef Bay, affectionately known as San Jo Bay by North Islanders, this vast sandy beach is located within Cape Scott Provincial Park. Easy to access via a 45-minute trail, the soft sand, sea stacks topped by ancient trees, caves and tidal pools are just waiting to be explored. The trail is the most popular hike in Cape Scott, but the beach is so quiet it feels undiscovered in comparison to the other sandy hotspots on the Island.

Looking for unique experiences on the water? Expand your horizons and cruise Vancouver Island’s coastline and lakes with a new boat. At Van Isle Marina, our certified yacht brokers can match you up with a motor or sailing yacht that’s perfect for on-board fun. Explore our wide selection of new and used yachts, contact our friendly and knowledgeable team, or come down and visit our world-class sales dock to see our top-of-the-line Pursuit boats.

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.

preparing for long boat trips

Prepping for Long Boat Trips

Tips & Tricks for Setting Sail for Weeks or Months at a Time

 

In times like these, when the world is encouraging you to stay safe, there is no reason staying safe cannot mean setting sail and living on your boat for awhile. After all, we see an extended boating trip as the perfect answer to self-isolation and physical distancing.

longer yacht trips - enjoying the lifestyle

So, whether you have been thinking about taking a longer boating trip for awhile now, or the idea has just come to you, here’s how to prepare for extended trips on your boat or yacht. We will cover things like:

  • planning your route,
  • getting the boat ready,
  • provisioning and packing supplies, and
  • making sure your home on land is looked after

Below are the most common types of preparations involved when planning for your extended boating trip.

 

Planning Your Route

The best part of planning a boating trip happens right at the start, with the planning of the trip itself. This includes coming up with a loose itinerary, picking the majority of the stops you would like to make, highlighting any new spots you would like to visit, and noting any friends or family who you want to meet up with along the way, either on water or on land.

The specifics of your trip will depend on a few things, such as:long yacht trip - leaving canada

  • If you’ll be crossing international waters, you’ll need passports for everyone on board, as well as an updated insurance policy that covers you in the countries you are planning on visiting.
  • If you’ll be travelling with your family or travelling with pets, you’ll have extra considerations to make for each situation.
  • If the weather or climate is unpredictable where you’re headed, you’ll need clothing and possibly extra equipment for the unexpected.
  • If you’ll be docking up at a marina for overnight stays rather than anchoring offshore, you’ll need to budget for this.
  • If you’ll be packing most of your own groceries, follow our guide to stocking the best foods for your yacht.

While planning your route, it can be handy to consult those who have been there before you, and those boaters are happy to share their experiences. Meet other boaters at your local marina and through yachting and cruising groups and forums on social media. Follow your favourite boating websites, and pick up physical copies of boating magazines, cruising guides, and annotated charts. You should stay on the lookout for localized information on:

  • Top-rated routes, tracks, and safe passages
  • Notable depth and shoaling challenges
  • Placements of navigational markers
  • Tides and currents
  • Locations and opening times of locks and gates
  • Nearby marinas and potential anchorages

Always have a Plan B when planning your itinerary (the B stands for Backup). Unpredictable weather or issues with the boat might mean you have to change course from time to time. Talk to any experienced boater and they will all tell you the same thing: don’t travel on a set schedule. Pressing ahead through dicey weather conditions just to get somewhere “on time” is just not worth the risk, so don’t be rigid with your scheduling.

Lastly, remember to download the latest charts and update any related software that relates to the regions you will be cruising to before leaving the dock.

 

Prepping the Boat

Once you have a vague idea of where you’ll be going and for how long, it’s time to turn your attention to your boat. Depending on the age of your vessel, how often it gets out, and how it is stored, a mechanical or maintenance check might provide peace of mind.

Prepping the boat typically means inspecting the entire vessel for any potential mechanical problems or safety issues, as well as topping up your tanks. More specifically, preparing your boat involves:

  • Topping up all fluid levels
  • Checking all hoses and lines for leaks or crackslong boat trips - sailing around the world
  • Inspecting your hull for cracks or other damage
  • Checking all navigational equipment
  • Making sure your VHF radio is in good working order
  • Fuelling up the boat
  • Fuelling up and inspecting the tender for any issues
  • Filling up the water tanks
  • Cleaning the strainers
  • Checking the AC filter
  • Checking your generator and battery power
  • Ensuring your spare parts are on board
  • Ensuring you have both your travel and dock lines

Also check up on your required safety equipment, such as life jackets, to make sure they’re all accounted for and in good working order. Things like fire extinguishers and flares expire, for example, and first aid kits have been known to get depleted from time to time, so it’s important to check these things before any length of boating trip.

You might also consider cruising with additional safety equipment like a life raft, a satellite phone, and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. Transport Canada has more information on preparing your boat for long boating trips in its Safe Boating Guide.

 

Provisioning and Packing

The next category of long boat trip planning has to do with packing all the right supplies. This involves a certain amount of provisioning and creative packing solutions.

prepping for long boat trips - stocking your galley

Packing just the right amount of food, clothing, and entertainment options takes a bit of trial and error. There is a bit of an art to packing just enough, packing only what you’ll use, and packing only what you have room for.

You’ll pick up tips and tricks along the way, but for now the three biggest tips we have for you are to:

  • Pack everything in soft-sided luggage rather than hard-cased luggage, as soft luggage is much easier to store in tight spaces.
  • Get rid of as much packaging as you can before setting sail, especially if you’re packing new toys for the kids, new tubes of toothpaste, and flat packs of pops and juice – leave the cardboard behind!
  • Check on your provisions from last season, and toss anything that might be past its due date.

If you’re stocking your boat for the first time, check out our guide to stocking your galley with the best foods, cleaning supplies, and more. Also check out our list of important items to bring on your boat, which should assist greatly during this step.

 

Securing the Homefront

Just like any standard vacation, an extended period away from your home on land requires some preparation. Be sure to make these arrangements ahead of time:

  • Arrange from a neighbour or family member to regularly check on your house, water your plants, and collect your mail.
  • Book any necessary medical appointments to fill prescriptions and see your dentist.
  • Clean up the yard and stow away anything that could tempt a thief.
  • Winterize your home if you’re planning a winter get-away.

 

Once you have these items checked off your to-do list, all there is left to do is hope for the best weather possible as you set sail for your big adventure.

For more boating tips from Van Isle Marina, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.

yacht renovations - how to

Renovating an Older Yacht

Thinking About Renovating a Yacht as a Hobby Project?
Here’s What to Expect

 

There are many different scenarios that might see you one day staring down a decades-old boat on land from bow to stern, wondering, “Where do I even start?” Perhaps you’ve recently bought a pre-owned boat and are looking to make it your own. Or maybe your existing boat needs a few repairs and modern enhancements. It might even be that you have just inherited a boat that’s been in storage for so long and needs a little work before she is seaworthy again.

Whatever the case may be, restoring an older yacht can be a fun, rewarding endeavour. Just keep the following steps in mind to know what to expect when it comes to restoring an older boat or tackling your upcoming yacht restoration project.

renovating yachts - tools required

Step 1. Take an Inventory of Your Tools and Workspace

Before you begin, take a look at your tools and workspace. Do you have what it takes to pull this off (an electric buffer, demolition tools, etc.)? Do your friends and family have tools to lend you? If not, having to acquire these tools will factor into your restoration budget.

Step 2. Wash the Entire Vesselrenovating yacht - clean the boat

Thoroughly clean your boat from top to bottom, and from stem to stern to get a sense of what exactly you are working with. This includes removing all the water, leaves, and other organic matter from the boat.

Pro Tip: If you’ve purchased your pre-owned boat from a broker, this step has likely been done already.

Step 3. Take a Visual Inspection of What Needs Fixing and Replacing

Start identifying everything that is visually broken, damaged, or otherwise falling apart, and make a list! This could include things like:

  • Crazed and cracked fibreglass
  • Torn, ripped, or mouldy upholstery
  • Rotting or decaying wood components
  • A shabby-looking cabin or galley
  • A dull, chalky looking hull
  • Peeling no-slip paint on the deck
  • A cracked or foggy windshield
  • Rusty components

Depending on time and budget, you might have to pick and choose what DIY projects you realistically want to take on. For example, if your hull has just lost its shine but is in otherwise good condition, you are likely able to buff it back to life yourself. However, if your upholstery needs work too, this is a more challenging DIY project and a professional re-upholstery company will be worth every penny.

Step 4. Inspect the Vessel’s Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Components

Examine the mechanical components of the boat and continue adding to your list of repairs. Check all the electrical components, including all the vessel’s lights, electrical outlets, heating and cooling systems, appliances, sinks, toilets, and shower. Ensure you’ve removed any old fuel from the fuel tank and any lingering oil from the engine and gear case. Replace any old belts and hoses on the engine.

Pro Tip: A marine technician can complete this step for you and provide a more comprehensive report on the vessel’s power systems. In many cases this is done prior to the purchase of a used boat, giving you a better idea of what the project will entail.

Step 5. Pay Special Attention to the Hull

Another area to pay special attention to is not just the cosmetics of the hull, but the through-hull fittings. Make sure they are rust-free and are still properly sealed. While you’re in the area, check the conditions of the seacocks and the cleats. If any appear to be rusted, broken, or missing altogether, these items are all relatively cheap to replace.

Step 6. Make a Wishlist of Features, Amenities, and Upgrades

If time and budget are on your side, make another list of all the add-ons you’d love to have on this boat. Keep things in scope by first thinking ahead to your intended uses for the boat. If this boat will mainly be used for fishing excursions, brainstorm all the fishing amenities you’d like to see such as rod holders, rod storage, and a livewell.

If you’ll be living in the boat part-time on the water, consider upgrading or adding to the appliances in the galley. You can also look at things like adding a laundry closet, carving out more storage space if you’re doing a deep reno, and adding newer navigational equipment.

Not sure what add-ons are even possible? Check out the floor plans of today’s modern luxury motor yachts on the market that are within the same size as what you’re working with, and you’ll get a sense of all the potential layouts, amenities, and modern touches you might want to add to this boat. Think about things like USB phone chargers, LED TVs, and sound systems that will make owning a boat that much more enjoyable.renovating yachts - strip the paint and varnish

Step 7. Get Started on the Project

With your lists in hand, it’s time to get started with your restoration project! At this point you can re-evaluate the items you want to tackle yourself, or start to call in the experts. A lot of help can be found on YouTube, on boating forums, and by talking to other boat owners who have already been where you are. Look at boating magazines and different boats for sale on the internet for visual inspiration of what’s possible.

Finding the Right Boat to Restore

Finding a boat to restore is similar to buying a boat you plan on enjoying right away. You need to consider things like what you plan to use the boat for, where you plan on storing the boat when it’s not in use, and what size and age of boat your budget will realistically afford you. All of these things are considerations for any boat purchase.

For a restoration project, storage considerations and budget should be looked at a lot more closely, as does your skill level. Be realistic about how long the boat project will take you, and where your skill level is at if the restoration is going to be a true DIY. If you think 3 months, and it ends up being 3 years due to life’s circumstances interfering with things, then that’s a lot of additional storage time you have to consider if you’re paying to store the vessel somewhere. And depending on the make and model, there could be too much depreciation if you’re planning to resell.

If budget, time, and skill level are factors, start small. The smaller the boat, the quicker the retrofit in most cases. And, if you’re just starting out, definitely avoid boats with no salvageable equipment. If the boat is just a shell, replacing gear, seating, and fibreglass components is going to far exceed the end value of the boat. Also avoid boats with major structural defects. The repair job on these types of boats is likely to be beyond cosmetic and require more equipment than the average DIYer has at home in the garage.

Likewise, if you’re looking to fix the boat up to eventually resell it, check the market before settling on something. A boating expert or yacht broker will be able to help you sort out the resale value of the boat you’re looking at restoring. It might not be worth the time or money if there is no resale or no sentimental value at the end of the day.

Just like when you’re looking at renovating a house, you already have a sense of where your comforts lie and what your limitations are. Depending on the nature of your restoration project, things might be more complicated than what we have provided above, but we hope this post has inspired you to get started on your next project. However it turns out, you’ll likely feel proud of the outcome and enjoy life on a boat you’ve customized just to your liking.

Opting to restore an older yacht can be the perfect option for someone who has the time and wants to own their first boat but is limited by budget. If you’re searching for a boat to restore, let our brokers help you find what you’re looking for. While most of the boats we have for sale at our sales dock are newer, we do come across the perfect project boat from time to time, or can help you locate one from elsewhere.

At Van Isle Marina, our brokers are ready to help you navigate the purchase of your next boat or yacht. Learn more about our sales process, or contact us with any questions you might have. We look forward to helping you end up in the boat of your dreams!

Halibut & Salmon Fishing

Where & When to Go Fishing In BC for Saltwater Fish

The Best Places to Find Salmon and Halibut in British Columbia

The West Coast of BC is home to some of the world’s most amazing fishing. People come from all over the globe specifically for our pacific salmon and huge halibut. Fishing around here is culturally and commercially significant as well, and can be done year-round in our region, with July to September being the busiest time of year for fishermen.

No matter where you plan on travelling in BC, you won’t have to travel too far in search of a place to go saltwater fishing, as there are thousands of places to explore. To help you narrow it down, we’ve provided a high level list of places to check out around Vancouver Island. These destinations were chosen either for their proximity to the Island’s must-see cities and coastal communities, or their remoteness, which offers an unparalleled opportunity to see the West Coast.

Pair many of these fishing excursions with our list of top recommended Vancouver Island attractions and you should be all set for an unforgettable trip.

Note: fishing regulations throughout BC may vary so please confirm all closures with Fisheries and Oceans Canada before heading out. Also note that certain areas such as Tofino, Gulf Island, etc may have local closures due to COVID-19 so plan ahead!

Fishing Destinations Around Vancouver Island

Best Salmon and Halibut Fishing in BC - Winter Harbour

Winter Harbour and Quatsino Sound – Located close to the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, head here for open ocean and the chance to catch salmon or halibut in the summer and fall. Dedicate a few days to this trip, and take advantage of the protected inlets and bays before venturing out further.

Port Hardy – 75 kilometres from Winter Harbour is the small rustic fishing village of Port Hardy. Here is your chance for a great day out on the boat to explore the wild, remote north coast of the Island while catching salmon or halibut in the spring, summer, and fall. You’ll be joined by commercial fishermen, however, so stay alert!

Scott Islands – The 5 Scott Islands can also be found on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Great for salmon and halibut fishing, but also a remarkable opportunity for birdwatching, with more than 2 million seabirds living in the region. The weather conditions can be a bit rougher, so this trip is best suited to experienced boaters.

Best Salmon and Halibut Fishing in BC - Johnstone Strait

Johnstone Strait & Robson Bight – East of Port Hardy is the Johnstone Strait, between the Vancouver Island and mainland BC. There are plenty of islands in this region to explore, and the opportunity for some great salmon fishing (chinook, coho, and pink) in the summer. There are also resident orcas in this area, meaning you’ll be competing with them for the fish!

Read More: Guide to Whale Watching in BC

Northern Gulf Islands – Salmon and shellfish are plentiful around the 200 Gulf Islands off the coast of mainland BC, in the Johnstone Strait and the Strait of Georgia. The areas south of Denman and Hornby Islands are popular spots for salmon fishing, while Flora Island and Lambert Channel are great areas for prawn traps.

Best Salmon and Halibut Fishing in BC - Brooks Peninsula

Brooks Peninsula – Brooks Peninsula is a remote part of northwest Vancouver Island that takes awhile to get to but will lead you to salmon, halibut, bottom fish, and even tuna if you travel offshore enough. Allow a few days to make this journey. South of the peninsula is Kyuguot Village, another remote area of the island offering the same opportunities as Brooks Peninsula.

Desolation Sound – Just north of Desolation Sound near Campbell River on the east side of Vancouver Island is an excellent spot to catch some resident and migratory salmon throughout the year. Spend plenty of time in the beauty of the region’s large network of tidal channels and inlets.

Nanaimo – Get plenty of salmon fishing done year-round off the coast of Nanaimo and nearby Gabriola Island, Protection Island, and New Castle Island. Nanaimo is Vancouver Island’s second largest city, so while it is a bit quieter than Victoria, there is still lots to do there on land as well as at sea, and quite a few amenities for boaters as well. Be sure to stay clear of kayakers and the BC Ferries!

Best Salmon and Halibut Fishing in BC - Strait of Georgia

Strait of Georgia – The Straight of Georgia that flows between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC provides excellent pacific salmon fishing opportunities, around the Gulf Islands (already mentioned) and also nearby Parksville and Qualicum on Vancouver Island. You’ll have the biggest chance of making a catch between May and November, but with less lines in the water from December to April, you might just score a big one in the wintertime in this region.

Bamfield – Allow the small coastal town of Bamfield to be your starting off point for a multi-day fishing trip along the Island’s west coast. Just south of Tofino, Ucluelet, and Port Alberni,  Bamfield is a quieter location with less boating traffic. Salmon and halibut can both be found here, mainly in the summertime.

Port Alberni – On the west coast of Vancouver Island, just north of Bamfield and en route to Tofino and Ucluelet, you’ll reach Port Alberni, where chinook, coho, and chum salmon are in abundance, as they make there way back into the ocean from the Somass River. Port Alberni celebrates the Salmon Festival and Derby every September, so you know the fishing here has got to be good.

Best Salmon and Halibut Fishing in BC - Tofino BC

Tofino & Ucluelet – If you only have time for one fishing trip as you head to Vancouver Island, consider the Tofino-Ucluelet region on the West Coast of the Island for summertime salmon fishing. The backdrops are stunning, offering a range of island hopping, coastal exploration, and open ocean adventures. After a long day on the water, moor your boat as you explore the lands. The beaches of Long Beach will be bustling, as will the villages of Tofino and Ucluelet.

Victoria Harbour – Salmon fishing just outside of Victoria Harbour and in Ogden Point is a popular activity on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. It can be done from summer right into winter. BC’s capital city comes alive with tourists in summertime, making this a lively destination for more than just fishing, with many boutique and larger hotels and restaurants nearby.

Oak Bay – At the southern tip of the Island near Victoria, you’ll find spectacular Oak Bay with an English-inspired village as a backdrop on one side, and a distant view of Mt. Baker on the other. Stay awhile at Oak Bay Marina before spending the afternoon salmon and halibut fishing in the mildest region of all of Canada. Prepare for a lot of other boaters at the height of the fishing season (July-September).

For more information on any of these suggested locations, and some suggestions for shore fishing as well, check out Anglr, an initiative of the Sport Fishing Institute of BC.

Tips & Resources

Before setting out on your self-guided fishing trip in BC, note that there are specific fishing licence requirements, catch limits, and regional safety tips and seasonal closures you’ll need to know about. All of this information is provided by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

And, if you’ll have your smartphone on board with you, we highly recommend loading it up with the Fishing BC app. This free sport fishing app for tidal waters features a GPS locator, pinch-and-zoom map, and information on up-to-date official regulations including information about species, boundary maps, conservation areas, closures, contamination alerts, and more.

Also included in the app are a catch log, the opportunity to take photos of your catch and share with your social network, and a species ID guide specific to what can be found in BC’s tidal waters.

Read More:

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

Boating with Family

Planning on a Family Vacation out on the Water?
Keep These 11 Tips in Mind

The weather is warming up out there, and we know many, many happy boaters who are eager to be heading out on the water with their families to mark the official start of boating season.

A family boating vacation is the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of your everyday routine. It’s a chance to slow down, bond with your family, bond with your boat, and otherwise get back to nature.

It also just so happens that time on your yacht or motorboat is the best form of self-isolation that our Van Isle Marina staff can think of. Whether you’re practicing social distancing, or you’ve been planning this boating vacation for awhile now, here are 11 tips to help make your next trip out on the boat with your kids and teenagers a fun, memorable vacation.

1. Safety First

Practise Safety with kids on board

Depending on the ages of the children who will be on board, there are certain extra safety precautions you can take, such as adding a safety net to the deck to help everyone relax easier. Go over all the safety precautions with young children, especially to remind them of the rules of no running and throwing things.

Ensure handrails are all intact, walkways are well lit come nightfall, and the cockpit is anti-slip. And, we hope it goes without saying that a properly stocked first aid kit and properly fitted life jackets are definitely must-haves. Whenever possible, we recommend fitting and testing everyone’s life jackets in a swimming pool before packing them on the boat.

 

2. Pack the Essentials

pack essentials when boating with family

A great vacation requires packing the right supplies. On top of entertainment, which we will cover in a minute, you need to pack enough of the essentials. For everyone on board this means fresh drinking water, enough food and snacks for all to enjoy, sunscreen of various strengths, bug spray, swimsuits, and towels.

Ensure the kids are packed up with spare clothing, hats, sunglasses, proper footwear, and their favourite comfort toys – then do the same thing for yourself. Remember to stow it all in soft-sided luggage to make storage easier.

3. Hire a Crew Member

If your boat and budget can manage it, considering hiring a crew member to help you captain the boat. Bringing a crew member on board can help you relax and enjoy time with family by tending to the navigation of the boat, and maybe some cooking and cleaning as well.

When hiring an extra crew member, look for someone who is not just a skilled boater, but someone who knows the local area and can perhaps steer you towards new areas. You might learn more about your local area and tour some great new places, all while making memories with your family.

4. Relax Your Schedule

When travelling with more than two people, you may find that you’ll be better off relaxing your schedule a little bit. Throw your timetable and packed itinerary overboard!

family boating trips - Relax

Sailing is all about the journey, so don’t be in a rush to get from destination to destination. Be realistic, and if heading to the shore, give yourself enough time to explore the area and find activities that will please as many people in your group as possible.

You might set out for a destination, but never know what there is to see between point A and point B – maybe it’s a cool little island, a secret bay, or a pod of whales? You might even reach a destination that required a bit more time than you predicted it would. Of course there is always weather and the tides to navigate as well, leave yourself a lot of room to get from place to place.

All that being said, keep trips short when introducing young children to boating.

5. Entertainment

Cover your entertainment needs with water toys such as floaties, snorkeling gear, stand-up paddle boards, fishing rods

entertainment during family boating vacation

, and more. You’ll also want to ensure there are lots of indoor entertainment options as well. Think board games, card games, books, arts and crafts, music, and movies. Depending on everyone’s interest, stargazing at night, or birdwatching with binoculars in the day could al

so be fun things to try.

Have your kids pick their favourite activities to pack along, and consider keeping them reserved as special boating activities. You might also be packing along tablets and smartphones, but try and limit screen time for relaxing once the sun goes down. Be sure to invest in waterproof, floatable protective cases for your electronic devices so they don’t sink to the bottom if accidentally dropped.

6. Involve Your Kids

Involve your kids when boating

If they’re old enough and interested enough, try and involve your kids in all aspects of boating. Show them the equipment, have them steer the boat, teach them how to tie all the knots, identify all the day markers, and explain all the boating terminology you know. Even if it’s just from an observational standpoint while you’re docking, anchoring, or communicating on the VHF radio, involving your kids in the boating process will surely create fond memories for everyone.

7. Get Off the Boat

boating vacations - get off the boat

If time allows, try and get off the boat for a few hours here and there to enjoy some hiking, caving, bike riding, or local sightseeing. You might find the perfect beach for swimming, sandcastles, kayak rentals, ice cream cones, kite flying, a game of frisbee or badminton, or boutique shopping. Do a bit of research ahead of time to learn about any attractions on the coastal areas where you’ll be heading. From wildlife sanctuaries, to museums, to freshwater lakes, there is so much you can add to your boating vacation.

8. Create Kid-Friendly Hangout Areas

If boating with a teenager, it might help to give them a private space all to themselves. Likewise, a nervous young child might also appreciate having a safety zone such as a fort they create, all to themselves. And, if the boat is big enough, try to avoid kids having to share beds. Unless of course, they are siblings who happen to get along swimmingly all the time! A week or more of sharing a bed with their little brother or sister might not lead to any happy children on board.

For very young children, bring a small, portable playpen, which will come in extremely handy, especially one with a mosquito net and sunshade.

9. Tidy Up Every Day

Even a large yacht can start to feel small once a whole family starts to spread out over the course of a few hours. While at home you might leave toys out overnight, this might not be as realistic in smaller living spaces. Try and encourage kids to clean up their activities as soon as they’re done playing, or at the very least, at the end of the evening before bed. And of course, take care of wet bathing suits and towels so they are good and dry the next day.

10. Take Time For Yourself

Alone Time during family boating trips

Once the kids are asleep – which will likely be early, as a day full of swimming and fresh air is bound to tire them out – make sure you fit in some grown up time with your better half. For example, why not share a bottle of wine on the deck?

Family boating vacations need not be just for the kids! You’ll appreciate this time to unwind after a successful day on the water, and plan ahead for the next day.

11. Take Plenty of Photos and Videos

pack lifejackets on family boating trips

Taking photos and videos of your family vacation is always a good idea – boat or no boat! You’ll enjoy the memories and you get to frame your favourite ones for a year-round reminder of how great your vacation was. If you have young photographers on board, entrust them with a waterproof disposable camera they can take out on their floaties with them and snap away.

For more boating tips from Van Isle Marina, be sure to check out the rest of our blog.