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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.

Yachting with your Dog

Yachting with Your Dog

Want to Bring Your Pets with You on Your Boat?
Here’s What You Need to Know

Because dogs are such a big part of many of our clients’ lives, we thought it was time to cover the topic of yachting with pets, especially if you’ll be spending longer periods of time on your boat to practice social distancing and no longer want to kennel your best friends while you’re away.

boating with pets

So, whether you have welcomed a new pet into your life since owning a boat, or you have welcomed a new boat into your life and already have a dog (or two!), learning the ins and outs of boating with pets is essential before setting sail.

To accompany our article on Boating with Family, here are the Van Isle Marina team’s top tips for boating with animals, including a list of things to bring, and tricks for helping your dog adjust to life on the water.

Best Dog Breeds for Boating

First off, if you don’t yet have a dog and are looking to get one, compare dog breeds that are best for boating, versus dog breeds that don’t like water. Of course, every dog will be different, but a dog’s breed is often a good indicator of how much your future best friend will love going boating.

Boat Design Considerations for Pets

If you are building a new boat or are renovating an older one, consider adding accommodations for your four-legged family members from the get-go. These can include things like:

  • Real or artificial grass patches where your dog can do their businessdog on board
  • Custom-cut dog doors where needed, such as from the cabin to the cockpit
  • Light and door sensors positioned at your dog’s height
  • Extra guard rails or specialized guard rails where the space between the railings is protected by glass or grilles
  • Installation of extra-small staircase gates
  • Specialized boarding ramps if your dog is too large to carry on board
  • Dedicated dog wash stations for use after the beach
  • Protective covers for your upholstery
  • Added décor that pays homage to your pet(s)

Identification and Paperwork for your Pet

If you plan to leave the country with your pets on board your boat, you’ll need to think ahead for any required international travel documents and limitations. There will be paperwork involved, which vary from country to country, but at the very least you’ll need proof from a vet that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. Your regular vet might not know all the pet travel restrictions to some of your more exotic locations, so be sure to do your own research well before departure.

Be sure to include your phone number on your pet’s ID tag that clips onto his or her collar. Some owners also go for the extra coverage of having a microchip imbedded beneath the dog’s skin, or else a waterproof GPS device also attached to the collar.boating with your dog - don't let the dog drive the boat

Acclimatizing Your Pets

Depending on your pet’s age and temperament, they might not love boating right off the bat. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep your first boating trip with your pets extremely brief. If things are fine, keep going, but be prepared to keep things short as your dog gets more and more comfortable being on the docks and boats.

As you venture out further and further, you’ll also find out quickly if your pet is prone to seasickness. If this is the case, try and plan feeding time so they aren’t setting sail on a full stomach. This will reduce cleanup efforts on your part. Check with your vet for suitable seasickness medicine that is available for your dog’s breed and size.

Training your dog to be comfortable on the boat may involve teaching them how to swim or training them how to love the water they were once afraid of. There are many pet blogs that cover the topic of how to help your dog enjoy the water.

Dog Overboard Planyachting with your dog - make them wear dog lifejackets

There is a chance your dog could end up overboard. There’s no true way to plan for such an occurrence but making sure they can swim before you’ve even set foot on the boat will help ease everyone’s anxieties.

There are also life jackets specific to dogs, which are recommended when passing through strong currents or choppy water. Most lifejackets suited for dogs have a handle at the top so their owners can easily grip and lift them back up onto the boat. Don’t leave shore without life jackets for ALL those on board.

Likewise, when it comes to the right leash and collar, it’s best to replace the collar with a harness, which also provides a handle or other means of lifting a dog back on board. This could even be done with a boat hook if thing’s ever got to that point!

Bathroom Breaks

You’ll need to provide and then train your dog on their new place for doing their business. Housebroken pets will be reluctant to soil your boat and will have to get used to pee pads all over again.

Spend time and be patient as you coax them into using their new dedicated area, whether it is a patch of grass, carpet scraps, pee pads, or a litter box in the cockpit. Bring supplies to clean up messes as your pet adjusts, and pack plenty of treats for training.

Another alternative is to stay close enough to shore to accommodate your pet’s schedule. But this strategy will only take you so far.

Staying Cool and Hydrated

Be sure there are multiple bowls of fresh water around for your pet. Keeping your pets hydrated on board is so important, as it will prevent them from attempting to drink seawater, which could cause serious health problems.

Depending on the season, you’ll also want to ensure a cool, shaded area for your pets to hang out on board, as constant sunshine is not recommended. If bringing a kennel on board, keep it inside somewhere cool with good air circulation.

Sunscreen for your Dogdog in the sun on a yacht

You might be surprised to learn that there are entire lines of sunscreens available for your pets. At a minimum, these should be applied to your dog’s belly, as well as the insides of the hind legs. Look for a spray-on variety for easiest application, and a formula free of zinc oxide – an ingredient you don’t want your pets to be licking or ingesting.

Pet First Aid Kits

There are first aid kits designed especially for pets on the market that are small, affordable, and perfect for travelling. They include many of the same elements of a first aid kit for humans, including tweezers, gauze, gloves, and antiseptic wipes. If you’ll be doing some hiking on shore, look for a tick remover as well.

Grooming

If you’ll be going for an extended boating trip, consider making a trip to your dog’s groomer first. The shorter their hair, the easier it will be to clean your furry friend who just might be constantly wet and sandy from the beach. A good toenail clipping will also help prevent any scratches or scuffs on your upholstery or special deck surfaces and coatings.DIY dog wash station coming to Van Isle Marina

Boating with your pet can be such a great experience for everyone involved. We are extremely dog friendly here at Van Isle Marina, and love meeting your pets! So much so, in fact, that the marina will be adding a new service that’s specifically for our furry friends.  Sometime in May, we’ll be adding a DIY dog wash station so that you can clean your pets after coming back from enjoying time on your boat.  Our new fureverclean DIY dog wash station will provide an easy way for dog owners to quickly wash, dry and condition their pets.

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

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.

The Best Foods to Bring on Extended Yachting Trips

Best Foods for Extended Yachting Trips

Groceries for your Yacht

Are you about to stock your new yacht full of groceries for the first time? If so, check out our helpful guide to filling your fridge and pantry shelves before sailing off for weeks or months at a time.

The following tips are for boaters who plan to set sail for more than just a few days. The items listed below are a great place to start if you’ve never done something like this before.

Staples and Other Non-Perishables

Staples in this case refer to non-perishable items that can be used in many different ways. Some suggestions include:

  • Rice and oatsbest foods to bring on your yacht - pantry stapes
  • Beans and lentils
  • Pasta
  • White and brown sugars
  • Powdered milk for coffee, tea, or cereal
  • Cereals (if you have the space!)
  • Canned goods such as soups, veggies, and sauces

Pro Tip #1: Avoid packing bread with you and instead opt to buy it fresh whenever you can make it to a supermarket or local bakery. Bread doesn’t fair well in the humid environment of boating. Things like English muffins, tortillas, and bagels will likely work out a bit better than a loaf of sliced bread.

Pro Tip #2: For staples and snacks, shopping in the bulk section can be a huge money saver.

Pro Tip #3: Depending on where you’re headed, you might be able to score staples like beans and grains at your destination port for cheaper than you would buy them for at home.

Snacks

Snacks are essential for all different types of boating. Skippering a boat, swimming, and other watersports definitely work up an appetite, and hearty snacks can really save the day out there. So definitely bring all your favourite snacks on board.

Some snacks you might want to take aboard your boat:

best foods to bring on your boat - dried fruit

  • Nuts and dried fruits (trail mixes)
  • Granola bars and energy bars
  • Fruit snacks and fruit leathers
  • Pudding cups
  • Chips and popcorn
  • Chocolate (in some regions good chocolate can be hard to come by, so stash some of your favourite chocolate bars)

Pro Tip #4: For your storage solutions, remember to pack resealable plastic or glass containers, Ziplock bags, and chip bag clips to keep things sealed up and protected against the open sea air.

Spices & Condiments

Be selective about which condiments you bring on board. Fridge space is limited, as are some cupboards. However, the shelf life on many condiments is pretty good, so it can be worth it to spare some space for all your favourite flavour enhancers. Choose items you’re particular about cooking with, and any special items you don’t think you’ll be able to find in other countries.

Some basic condiments include:

best foods to bring on your boat - spices

  • Cooking oil
  • Vinegar
  • Grilling sauces
  • Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise
  • Soy sauce
  • Curry powder
  • Peanut butter & jam
  • Salt & pepper
  • Oregano & basil
  • Powdered bouillon cubes (chicken or beef stock)

Pro Tip #5: Portion off small amounts of spices you already own into small Ziplock bags for compact storage and to avoid having to buy duplicate bottles of anything.

Fresh Food

It’s possible to pack fresh produce on board your boat. Choose things that will last you longer than a week or two, such as apples, oranges, citrus fruit, onions, and garlic. Avoid bananas, berries, and avocados. Truly fresh produce can be obtained from the ports of the regions you visit, depending on where you’re going.

Some cheeses keep for many weeks, making them a relatively safe choice if there is room in the fridge. Butter, eggs, and yogurt also keep for awhile and would make sense to bring if you enjoy those foods.

Pro Tip #6: The more fresh food you can vacuum-pack, the better!

Drinks

Yachting can be thirsty work, so in addition to your favourite coffees and teas, be sure to bring enough non-alcoholic drink choices on board to keep life interesting while you’re away. Again, it all comes down to personal preference, but things like pop, juice, hot chocolate mix, and non-dairy milk are all nice to have on board. For ease of packing, consider drink crystals, which can be easier to lug around than flats of juice.

Depending on your method of obtaining fresh drinking water on board, you might also choose to have a flat or two of bottled water around. Each person on board should have access to no less than 1.5 litres of fresh drinking water per day.

Pro Tip #7: If your yacht does not have a wet bar with an ice box or mini fridge in the cockpit, have a cooler on deck to keep drinks cool and accessible throughout the day. This also helps avoid having to open and close your galley’s fridge all day, which can draw a lot of power.

Cleaning Supplies

Grocery shopping in order to stock the pantry includes cleaning supplies like:

  • Dish soap, hand soap
  • Dishcloths, paper towels
  • Scrubbies for pots and pans
  • Garbage bags
  • Laundry soap
  • Toilet paper
  • Broom and mop

You can pick all these items up at the supermarket, so be sure to add them to your list.

Rationing

Grocery shopping for your boating trip differs a lot depending on who will be on board with you. If it’s just going to be you and another person, things are more straightforward, since you know what you like and what your partner likes and generally how much food you both will go through during your trip.

However, if you’ll be entertaining guests, or bringing small children on board, things get trickier. For instance, kids will be tough to gauge because they will likely have larger appetites while they are out on the boat and getting tons of exercise during various water sports. The best way to ration is to plan ahead, write down how many people on board multiplied by how many meals required, and then you have something to start with.

It can be helpful to include your guests in this planning phase, perhaps by delegating some meal responsibilities. Coordinate ingredient lists and don’t worry if it feels like you’re overthinking it – getting your food right is so important and will lead to everyone having a memorable trip.

Pro Tip #8: Research make-ahead meals that might be nice to bring if your yacht has a freezer. Some online resources have recipes for bag meals, which involve tossing everything you would toss into a slow cooker into a freezer bag until you are ready to go.

Dietary Restrictions

If possible, get a list of any dietary restrictions and special diets of people who will be boarding your boat with you. Run the menu by guests beforehand if possible. Asking everyone’s preferences before setting sail helps avoid awkwardness and people going hungry until the next port.

To fill in any gaps, visit various ports to stock up on the all the fresh fruits and veggies, meats, cheeses, and breads each region is known for. You might also find that you can catch some of your meals if you remember to bring your fishing gear!

Final Tip: Many grocery stores offer delivery services nowadays, allowing you to arrange a drop-off of all your groceries for your boat right to your marina of choice!

For more things you must bring with you while boating (besides food!) check out our blog post on Sailing Essentials – What to Bring on Your Boat.

When it comes to packing the best foods for an extended boating trip, we hope the above list helps you determine what is most important to bring. Many of the yachts for sale at Van Isle Marina come with more than enough storage space for you to leave plenty of staples on board year-round. We also have storage lockers available to further assist with your boating supplies while you moor with us.

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.

The History of Yachting

From Sails to Motors: The History of Yachting

How Yachting went from a Necessity to a Lifestyle

As a boating enthusiast like us here at Van Isle Marina, you probably spend a lot of time thinking about boats, looking at boats, and being on boats at every opportunity you can seize. But have you ever wondered how today’s luxury vessels came to be?

What was there before the motorboat grew to become a luxury yacht, which further grew to become a superyacht? If you’re as curious as we were about how, when, and where the yachting lifestyle evolved, read on for our brief guide to the history of yachting.

Not sure what makes a yacht a yacht in the first place? Review our Yacht Sizes, Styles, Types & Categories post as a refresher. In short, a yacht is mainly considered to be any type of sea vessel used strictly for recreational or pleasure purposes like cruising, entertaining, water sports, or fishing. There is a wide variety of sea vessels that are classified as yachts, with the term largely representing any vessel used recreationally that is large enough to have some form of sleeping quarters for overnight trips, as well as a kitchen and bathroom.

Today’s modern luxury yachts have come along way. Let’s take a look at where it all started.

Origin of Yachting

So, where did the term yachting come from? Originally called jachtschips (hunting boats), yachts were invented by the Dutch Navy in the 14th century to catch pirates and thieves quickly in shallower waters where larger ships couldn’t be sailed.

It wasn’t long until wealthy merchants and ship owners began using these smaller and speedier boats to sail out to celebrate their returning merchant ships. Sailing yachts also became popular with royalty, and it quickly became chic to use them for pleasure cruises and inevitably, for racing. English yachting is said to have officially begun when King Charles ll sailed the Mary to Britain following his return from exile in the Netherlands.

History of Yachting - the Mary

A 20 metre (66 foot) craft, the Mary inspired Charles and his brother James, the Duke of York, to construct more yachts and begin racing. They raced for sport for the first time in 1662 on the River Thames on a 100-pound wager.

Yachting Gains Traction

After a while, yachting slowly became fashionable among the wealthy, with the first social Yacht Club (the Water Club) in Cork, Ireland, being established in 1720. It was first used as a coast guard style organization. In the Water Club, races were actually chases, where the fleet of vessels “raced” to catch a nonexistent enemy—a nod to the yachts’ original crime-fighting purpose.

Meanwhile, the first yachts used in the North American colonies were typically Pilot Schooners – fast sailing vessels with tall masts and History of Yachting - Pilot Schoonerlong, slender hulls. They were capable of reaching speeds up to 20 knots, as opposed to the 5-6 knots reached by other crafts.

These Pilot Schooners were designed to guide the cargo-carrying Clippers to safe harbour, and in order for the crew to make a living guiding cargo ships to shore, they had to be the fastest.

The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) began in 1844 and the first racing schooner, the 30.78 metre America sailed across the Atlantic. She was turned down from the races in England, but joined in a race around the Isle of Wight with 14 yachts from the Royal Yacht Squadron, winning the Hundred Guinea Cup, known today as America’s Cup. Using this new design, the NYYC won the cup every year, from 1870-1983.

Yachts Get Bigger and Faster

After 1850, when steam-powered and internal combustion engines began to replace sails as the main power source, larger yachts and paddle wheel boats were developed as pleasure craft for long-distance cruising. By the second half of the 20th century, the majority of yachts relied on internal combustion engines (motor yachts), having moved away from using sails as auxiliary power.

Governance of the Yachting Industry

In 1907, yacht racing had caught on to the point where a governing body was required to create a universal set of rules and regulations for the sport since each country and region had their own set of rules—leading to much confusion. And so the International Yacht Racing Union (IYRU) was created in Paris. It was later renamed to the International Sailing Federation in 1996. Around this time, international racing really took off, splitting yachting into the two main factions we see today—racing and cruising.

Yachting Today

Today, the yacht has continued to develop with advances in technology and materials depending on the intended use – from long-range cruising, to fishing and watersports, to being used as a home away from home. Although wooden boat purists will still insist on a wooden hull, the vast majority of today’s hulls are created from much lighter materials like fibreglass, and designs vary according to the make and model of the vessel.

History of Yachting - todays yachts

Among other advances are the multihull design (catamaran/trimaran) and special features such as computer controlled winches on sailing yachts, an auxiliary engine to power the alternator, wind, water, and solar powered generators, GPS systems, radar, electricity, tender storage, joystick steering, and much more.

On top of these features, today’s luxury yachts have endless amounts of finishing touches that we are sure would have impressed the original yachtsmen, including leather interiors, teak decking, laundry machines, kitchen appliances, and the list goes on.

Whether you’re interested in a classic motor yacht, flybridge, a larger luxury rig, or something in between for your yachting lifestyle, come visit us at Van Isle Marina where we offer a wide range of new and used models as well as a fully secure maintenance and storage facility.