marine navigation basics

Basics of Marine Navigation

Marine Navigation Basics – How to Navigate a Boat

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

Marine Navigation – Learning Your Directions

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

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

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

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

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

Marine Navigation – Tools Marine Navigation - magnetic compass

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

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

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

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

Marine Navigational Aids

marine navigation - buoys

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

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

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

See complete details on the different types of marks.

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

marine navigation - paper charts

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

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

Marine Navigation - Electronic charts

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

Read More: Important Items to Bring on Your Boat


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

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


Yacht Tender Safety Tips

Dinghy / Tender Yacht Safety Tips

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

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

What is a Tender?

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

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

Tenders are essential for the following activities:

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

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

Tender Storageproper yacht tender storage

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

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

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

No Dedicated Tender Storage Space?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Yacht Tender Safety Tips

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

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

Essential Items to Keep On a Tender

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

Buying the Right Tender

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

Ask yourself:

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

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

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

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

Riviera Yacht Owner Spotlight

Riviera Yacht Owner Spotlight

Riviera Yacht Owners Sandy and Beth Seney

Riviera Yacht Owners - Beth and Sandy Seney

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

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

Riviera & Belize Yachts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riviera Yacht Owners RendezvousAnnual Riviera Rendezvous

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

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

Check out the recap from the 2019 Riviera Rendezvous.

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

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

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

Riviera’s 15th Motor Yacht

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

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

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

A Guide to Anchoring Your Boat (1)

Anchors Part 2 – Anchoring Your Boat

A Guide to Anchoring Your Boat

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

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

How to Anchor Your Boat

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

Choosing the Right Anchor

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

Choosing the Best Spot to Anchor

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

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

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

Measuring Your Rode

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

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

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

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

Dropping Anchor

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

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

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

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

Tie off the line around a bow cleat and voila!

Snubbing the Anchor

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

Making Sure You’re Anchored

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

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

Anchoring Safety Tips

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

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

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

Boat Only Destinations Around Vancouver Island Canada

Boat Access Only Tourist Spots

Best Boat Only Destinations Around Vancouver Island

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

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

Snake Islandsnake island - accessible by boat only

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

Rugged Point Marine Park

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

Clayoquot Wilderness ResortClayoquot, Vancouver Island, Canada

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

Broken Island Group

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

Grant Bay

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

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

Sandy Island

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

Ahousahtboat only access to Ahousaht Flores Island

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

Vargas Island Provincial Park

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

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

Desolation Sound Marine Provincial ParkDesolation Sound - accessible by boat

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

Refuge Cove

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

Roscoe Bay and Squirrel CoveSquirrel Cove - arrive by boat

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

Lasqueti Island

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

Protection Island

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

New Castle and Gabriola Islands

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

Mudge Island

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

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

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

Additional Destinations Recommended by Pacific Yachting

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

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

Different Types of Anchors

Anchor Types – Part 1

Different Types of Anchors

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

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

Anchoring Your Boat

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

types of boat anchors

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

How Many Anchors Do You Need?

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

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

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

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

Choosing the right anchor

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

types of anchors - fluke anchor

Fluke Anchors

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

Plow and Scoop Anchors anchor styles - plow anchor

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

Mushroom Anchorstypes of anchors - mushroom anchor

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

Specialized Anchors

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

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

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

Anchor Weight

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

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

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

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

Anchor Chain or Rope?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sailing Essentials Important Items to Bring on Your Boat

Sailing Essentials

Important Items to Bring on Your Boat

Packing for a boating trip is not unlike packing for an airplane ride. It begins with creating a list, packing your bags, and then anxiously hoping you haven’t forgotten anything!

If you’re new to boating, use our list below as a starting point, noting that the items you’ll wish to bring will vary based on the length of your trip and the current and forecasted weather conditions.

Here’s a list of items that you absolutely need to have with you every time you’re out on a boat.

Passport & Boating Documents

Make sure your insurance papers, boating licence, and registration are all on board, as well as some form of photo ID, particularly your passport if you will be boating internationally.  Read about what type of boating licences are required.

Soft-sided Luggage

Try and get everything into soft-sided luggage like a duffel bag or backpack in order to maximize storage space on board. Hard luggage is more difficult to fit into closets and cabinets.

Smaller Grab-Bag

Items of importance, such as your wallet, cash, keys, passport, prescription meds, credit cards, and phone should all be stored in a small bag that is easy to grab and go in the case of an emergency. Also include in this bag a printed list of emergency contact names and phone numbers, your insurance policy number and number, and doctor names and numbers.

Sunscreenyachting essentials - sunscreen

We hope this one goes without saying! Always pack more sunscreen than you ever think you’ll need. Choose non-oil-based sunscreens in order to protect your yacht’s upholstery and wooden finishes as much as possible. Lip balm with SPF and insect repellent are also recommended.


While sunglasses are recommended for passengers, they are essentially a must-have for drivers.  The sun can be particularly blinding while boating as the rays reflect off the water. Sunglasses also shield a boat operator’s eyes from splashing water so they can stay focused on the task at hand.

Polaroid sunglasses with UV protection can further reduce the amount of glare coming into your eyes from reflected light, allowing your iris to stay open wider and improving your sight.

Some sailors even swear by having goggles on board for when the weather turns really bad and you need protection from heavy rains but without the shaded lenses. 

Ziplock Bagsyachting essential - dry bag

Ziplock bags or dry bags are great for more than just keeping money and electronics dry during day trips to the beach. You can also use Ziplock bags for dirty or wet clothes, and for sealing opened bags of snacks! Never underestimate all the uses there are for Ziplock bags on any type of trip.

Prescriptions & Seasickness Pills

If you’re prone to seasickness – and many people are no matter how often they go boating – consider packing seasickness or anti-nausea medication. Remember to also bring enough of your prescription medications for longer trips.

First Aid Kit

Always make sure your watertight or waterproof first aid kit is fully stocked before heading out, and includes all the usual suspects such as gauze, bandages, aspirin, antibiotic ointment and gloves. Flares, matches, a water-resistant flashlight and fire extinguishers are also a must.

When you buy a yacht through Van Isle Marina, our yacht brokers will make sure you know about all of the safety gear you are required to have on board.


Speaking of flashlights, bring an additional light on board that is kept separate from the first aid kit. Even better, a headband light for hands-free chart navigation and engine space inspections is extremely handy. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries!


Consider bringing DVDs and CDs with you to enjoy, which are more reliable than streaming services and don’t require special devices that need recharging. By all means, bring your tablet and smartphones too – most yachts will have a charging station or two. Also remember games, playing cards, pens and paper, and a few books and magazines.

Binoculars and cameras can also come in handy; binoculars for birdwatching and cameras for sunsets.yachting essentials - binoculars

Sailing Knife and Marlinspike

For safety and convenience, consider carrying a knife and marlinspike secured to your belt with a lanyard. The knife is handy for cutting through sailing rope and the marlinspike can help pry open strands of rope for splicing. Folding knives with a three-inch blade and marlinspike work in a pinch, but a straight blade rigging knife and a separate marlinspike in a sheath is better in emergencies.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Make sure there are enough PFDs for everyone on board, in the appropriate sizes. Inform everyone on board where the PFDs are stowed.


Bring more than one cap or hat on board to protect you from the sun, cold, and rain. Consider a large-brimmed hat for sunny weather, and a breathable, microfibre material cap for nighttime watches to keep you warm.

Spare Clothes

Without overpacking to the extreme, we recommend bringing spare clothing, like a spare pair of shoes and a backup bathing suit. In the event that things get wet (as they happen to do aboard a boat!) and don’t have a chance to dry out, having extra sets will certainly increase your comfort on board.

Rainy Weather Gear

When it rains, you’ll want more than just a hat. For longer boating trips, bring a raincoat, bib-pants, thick socks, and sea boots geared to the conditions in which you’ll be cruising. Whether it’s warm or cold weather, go for modern microfiber synthetic layers, including thermal underwear and a neck warmer for better comfort.


If you’ll be sailing and using sailing lines, gloves are going to be a must to prevent blistered, rope-burned hands. Full-length sailing gloves cover everything except the tips of your fingers and provide the best protection when working sailing sheets, halyards, and anchoring rode.

Personal Locator Beacon

A Personal Locator Beacon or Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) is a small hand-held device that allows you to transmit a distress signal directly to the authorities in case of an emergency. Your yacht comes equipped with an EPIRP, but personal EPIRPs are available as added peace of mind.

Some types of these devices are available with strobe lights, which can greatly assist during man-overboard situations.

Hand-held GPS Unit

A hand-held GPS unit could be handy for anyone acting as backup to the skipper, or for use on shore for day hikes, for example.


Unless you plan on catching your own food every day that you’re on board, make sure your galley is stocked with enough sustenance for the duration of your trip, or enough to get you to the nearest port.

Fishing Tackle

Does your tackle box need a top up?

Items to Leave on Your Boat

Some items only have to be packed onto your boat once, when you first acquire your boat:

  • Kitchen supplies like cookware, utensils, cups, plates, bowls etc
  • Beach towels and bathing towels
  • Cleaning supplies (vacuum cleaner and mop)
  • Toiletries

When it comes to packing for a 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 some of these items on board year-round. We also have storage lockers available to further assist with your boating supplies while you moor with us.

Anchoring Mooring Docking - Van Isle Marina

Anchoring, Mooring & Docking

Learning the (Getting) Ins and Outs of Boating

Let’s look at the differences between anchoring, mooring, and docking. While they all refer to ways of securing your boat in place when necessary, these 3 nautical terms all mean something slightly different.

An essential part of learning how to navigate a new vessel is learning all the options you have for stopping your boat whenever the need arises, such as when you’re:

  • Preparing for an overnight at sea
  • Waiting for a storm to pass
  • Stopping to cast a line
  • Taking a swimming break
  • Retiring the boat for the season
  • Getting fueled up

To secure your yacht in place for any length of time, your choices include anchoring, mooring, or docking the boat. All these terms refer to securing your boat in position on the water – for hours, days, or months at a time.

Anchoring Your BoatAnchoring - Van Isle Marina, Sidney BC

Anchoring your boat refers to dropping a large heavy object that is attached to your boat into the water, where it latches itself to the seabed with hooks and suction to keep the boat in place. You can anchor your boat anywhere if you have an anchor cable (known as an anchor rode) that’s long enough. To figure out how long your anchor rode should be, multiply the deepest water you might anchor in by eight.

Many modern motor yachts come with built-in anchoring systems. For example, like on most Riviera luxury yachts, the anchoring station on board the Riviera 57 Enclosed Flybridge is located at the bow, concealed from view, and comes with a remote control, fresh and saltwater washdown outlets, and a rope locker.

Having your yacht come with an anchoring station takes the guesswork out of which size and weight of anchor is best for your vessel, but there is a greater science behind anchoring that you’ll want to be aware of if you’re a new boat owner, especially if you’ll be anchoring in varying types of sea beds.

For additional anchoring security, many boaters carry two anchors of different styles – a fluke/Danforth style and a plow/scoop variety. The type of seabed you’re navigating, such as mud, grass, sand, coral, or rock, will determine which anchor is most suitable to use. Research your anchoring options before sailing too far from shore and make sure you’re confident with how the process works.

Mooring Your BoatMooring - Van Isle Marina, Sidney BC

Mooring refers to lassoing, tethering, tying, or otherwise securing your boat to a fixed object, such as a mooring buoy, rather than dropping an anchor to secure your vessel anywhere you fancy. You can moor your boat to a mooring buoy, dock, quay, wharf, jetty, or pier.

If mooring at a dock or pier with many other boats, such as at Van Isle Marina, there is a chance your boat will be occupying a dock or dock space that is the width of your boat, rather than the length. However, you will always have your own strip of docking walkway for easy loading and unloading.

Mooring your boat (sometimes called berthing) is done a few different ways and might take some trial and error until you perfect this skill. Mooring in a tight space amongst many other boaters proves to be intimidating for many new boaters.

To moor a boat at a mooring buoy out in open water, you’ll need something to grab hold of the buoy with, such as a boat hook or a line. You can either lasso the buoy with your line and pull your boat towards it to further secure it or use a boat hook to reach out and grab the buoy.

At these types of mooring locations, there will most likely be the mooring anchor, mooring chain, and mooring buoy – all you need to supply is the line or the hook to help your boat attach to the mooring area.

  • mooring anchor – this is a regular anchor in a fixed position that keeps your boat steady while it is being moored. Use one that is three times the weight of your service anchor.
  • mooring chain – this line connects the anchor to the floating buoy. We recommend three times the length of depth, and a quarter-inch larger than your service chain.
  • mooring buoy – a floating device that connects to the anchor and marks the place where the boat is moored.

If you find a vacant mooring anchor and buoy, simply pull up as close to it as possible and attach your line and mooring buoy accordingly – using your lasso technique or the boat hook. If the buoy is not public property, be prepared to vacate at short notice if the owner turns up. To tell if the buoy is strong enough to moor your yacht, consider the size of boats on similar buoys nearby and use your best judgment.

If you have enough hands on-deck, backing the boat up will likely get you close enough to the mooring point via the stern rather than the bow, making things a little simpler, depending on the shape of your boat.

Van Isle Marina offers moorage for boats of all sizes at competitive rates per square foot.

A Word on Rafting Up: Sometimes you might come across boats that are tied together on the water. This is known as “rafting up” and is essentially a boat moored to another boat. It can come in handy when every other moorage station is full, in emergencies, or if you’re just looking to socialize with another boat on the water. If you’re looking to raft up with another boat, whether it’s moored already or you’re both out on the open sea, the proper etiquette is to ask first, and have your fenders in place and an anchor ready to drop.

Docking Your BoatDocking - Van Isle Marina, Sidney, BC

Docking your boat refers to pulling your vessel up to a dock as parallel as you can, and then using ropes (dock lines) and nautical knots to secure (fasten) the boat to the dock.

In addition to the docking line, to dock your boat safely, you’ll require four or more fenders – large plastic or rubber devices that act as a buffer between the boat and the dock or pier and other boats, protecting both from damage. Using a couple large fenders close together at the front of your boat when coming into dock can act as a bumper, further protecting your yacht during this procedure.

When you’re docking a boat, the boat will be close enough for guests to easily disembark the vessel onto the dock (land). Docking usually means the length of your boat (bow and stern) will be secured to the dock, giving you a maximum amount of space for loading and unloading of supplies, as well as maintenance and cleanup of your vessel.

Docking is made easier when there is someone already on the dock to help you, and when the winds and the tide are cooperating. However, just like parallel parking a car, docking a boat gets easier and easier each time you do it. At Van Isle Marina, one of our experienced boaters can show you how it’s done.

Van Isle Marina in Sidney, BC is your go-to boat marina in the Pacific Northwest. We love to help fellow boaters just like us learn more about all the ins and outs of boating, including anchoring, mooring, and docking. If you’re interested in buying or selling a boat or moorage at our marina, give us a call or stop by to find out why so many people love to moor with us.


What people have to say about mooring with Van Isle Marina:

Impeccable facilities, moorage for 100’+ yachts down to small fishing boats, always helpful and alert staff, 24 hour video security, full service boatyard, large dry stowage yard, two sided fuel dock, Canada Customs dock, pumpout dock, laundry, showers and the best restaurant in town all located just 15 minutes from Victoria International Airport (YYJ) and on the door step to one of the best cruising grounds on Earth.  ~ EZBob Vincent


Great spot for moorage. Friendly staff, excellent facilities with updated docks.  ~ Scott Hutchinson

boat types - when is a yacht a yacht

When is a Boat a Yacht?

Yacht Sizes, Types, Styles & Categories

With so many different types of yachts to choose from, it can be hard to know your Flybridges from your Tri-Decks if you’re just starting your search. Although there is a growing number of terms used to describe the different types of yachts out there, many of the terms overlap or are used interchangeably.

If you’re on the market for a yacht, the team here at Van Isle Marina has compiled a review of the different terms you’ll likely come across when cruising through yachts for sale.

definition of a yacht - megayacht

a luxury motoryacht

Below is our brief guide to understanding the different terms the boating community has been known to use to describe yachts.

Definition of a Yacht

What exactly makes a yacht a yacht, and not just a big boat? There is no nailed down definition of what makes a yacht a yacht, but most boaters consider a yacht to be any type of sea vessel that is used strictly for recreational or pleasure purposes like cruising, entertaining, water sports, fishing, or year-round accommodations.

Yachts are usually large enough to have some form of sleeping quarters (cabin) on board for overnight trips as well as a kitchen (galley) and a bathroom (head). They are also large enough that they require more than human inputs (i.e rowing) to propel forward.

Yachts are classed by many things, including their mode of propulsion, size, style, amenities, and function.

General Types of Yachts

Definition of a Yacht - Sailing Yacht

a sailing yacht

A yacht is first defined either as a sailing yacht, motor yacht, or gulet yacht, and then as a sports or luxury yacht.

  • Sailing Yacht: a yacht mainly propelled via wind and sails
  • Motor Yacht: a yacht propelled via one or more motors
  • Gulet Yacht: a hybrid yacht with both sails and motors
  • Open Yacht, Cruiser, Cabin Cruiser, Express Cruiser: an otherwise uncategorized standard yacht for cruising and entertaining
  • Luxury Yacht: a yacht that includes high-end finishes and features and the latest in modern performance technology. The term ‘luxury’ can precede any type of yacht, i.e. “luxury motor yacht”, “luxury sailing yacht”, etc.
  • Sports Yacht: a yacht geared towards fishing, water sports, or cruising with a sleeker design and more powerful motor for faster cruising speeds. The term ‘sports’ can precede other types of yachts as well, i.e. “sports motor yacht”.
  • Catamaran Yacht: a yacht with two hulls (pontoons) often made of fiberglass that can be used in shallow waters.

    Definition of a yacht - Catamaran

    a catamaran

Yacht Sizes

Yachts can further be defined as a superyacht or megayacht, depending on their size.

  • Superyachts are typically 24 meters (78 feet) and above.
  • Megayachts are typically over 80 meters (260 feet).

Most motor yachts on the market are typically 24 meters (78 feet) or less.  There are only a handful of megayachts in the world due to their extravagant price tag.

Yacht Style Categories

Yachts can further be grouped or defined according to their form and function, such as with flybridge, sedan, pilot house, and sportfish yachts, for example.

  • Classic Motor Yacht: a yacht that was built between the 1920s and 1970s (before today’s modern technology began dominating modern yacht manufacturing). A modern yacht can be built based on the classic motor yacht style.
  • Sedan: a popular yacht style with deck space above the hull and living quarters below. The living quarters of a sedan yacht are enclosed and single-level.
  • Flybridge: a sedan-style yacht with an open deck and more comfortable living space above the main bridge of a vessel.
  • Daybridge: a multi-level yacht that is even more open than a flybridge. Belize Motoryachts are known for creating this distinctive style of yacht.
  • Open or Enclosed: a term used to describe the layout of and access to the flybridge. In an enclosed flybridge, access to the above flybridge is enclosed inside the living space. In an open flybridge, access to the flybridge above is open to the elements.
  • Downeast Style: a low-profile yacht with a large working cockpit and small helm station. This highly recognizable style is inspired by the mid-1900s traditional Maine lobster boat. Back Cove yachts are a shining example of downeast-style inspired yachts.
  • Pilothouse: A multi-deck yacht like a flybridge with a larger interior main deck.
  • Sky Lounge: an enclosed area at the top of the vessel that provides the benefits of the view but with several amenities, protection from the elements, expansive windows and sometimes a sunroof.
  • Cockpit Motor Yacht: a yacht with more cockpit space than deck space.
  • Sportfish or Sport Fishing Yacht: A yacht used for fishing with a large cockpit, storage space, and the ability to handle rougher seas. These can also be referred to as Flybridge Sportfish or Sportfish Express and are built for longer durations out on the water.
  • Convertible: a yacht that combines features of a standard motor yacht with a sportfish yacht to have entertaining space when you need it, and also fishing space when you need it.
  • SUV: a yacht that combines features of a standard motor yacht and sport yacht.
  • Tri-Decks: a superyacht with three levels of staggered, enclosed living space.
  • Expedition Yachts: a large yacht with a deeper displacement hull for more stability and comfort during longer-range trips.

Read a few descriptions of yachts for sale and you’ll soon realize the boating community sometimes seems to have its own language. To accompany this roundup of yacht types, check out our Parts of a Boat post for more information, or jump right into checking out some of the models we at Van Isle Marina have for sale right now.

cleaning fish on a boat

Cleaning Fish on a Boat

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Clean a Fish While On Your Boat

It’s never the best part of the fishing experience, and it’s often a thankless task, but someone on board the boat has got to do it. We’re talking about cleaning your catch. Knowing how to clean a fish properly is something every fisherman should know how to do. It’s the first step in getting your fish to taste delicious, after all.

When do you need to clean your fish?

Try and clean your fish within an hour or two of catching it, or at the very least, on the day you catch it – this is true even if you are planning on freezing the fish eventually. If you’ll be out fishing for several days on your yacht, it will be important you have everything you need on board to easily clean your catch right there on the boat. Fortunately, you don’t need much to clean a fish.

Here’s our quick guide to cleaning a fish on board your boat:

To clean a fish, you’ll need a:

how to clean a fish on your boat

  • Sanitary work station
  • Dull butter knife, spoon or fork for removing scales
  • Sharp knife for gutting your fish
  • Bucket to collect your fish guts
  • Clean ice bucket to collect your clean fish
  • Newspaper or plastic lining (optional)
  • Clean running water
  • A fish or two worthy of getting your hands dirty

Cleaning a fish in 7 easy steps

Step 1: Bleed the Fish

A fish should be bled when you first catch it to preserve the flavour of the meat and to make for a cleaner gutting experience. To do so, make a shallow incision under the fish’s gills. Snap its head back, breaking the spinal cord, then thread a rope through its mouth and out the gills. Allow the fish to bleed out into the water. Put the fresh catch on ice. Keep it there until you’re ready for the next steps.

Step 2: Prepare Your Materials

Lay out some newspaper on your sanitized workspace to help absorb liquids spilling from the fish and onto the floor. Do your fish cleaning outdoors if possible as it’s going to get messy! Use gloves if you prefer and have them handy.

Have your bag or bucket nearby to collect the bones, fins, head, and guts of the fish.

Inspect your fish for signs of diseases, including spots, sores, wounds, and discolouration before proceeding.

Step 3: Remove Scales

Remove the scales from your cold fish using a dull knife, fork, or spoon. From the tail towards the head, use a raking motion working against the direction of the scales. Do both sides of the fish, as well as the top and bottom.

Don’t worry if you can’t remove all the scales (they are not harmful to consume) – just aim for most of them because they don’t taste very good.

If you’re dealing with a thick-skinned fish, consider skinning it instead of descaling. To do this, cut a 1-inch notch where the top of the fish’s head connects to its body. Grip the fish at the head and simply peel the skin down to the tail. Pliers might be needed if the skin is tough.

Step 4: Remove Guts

It’s time to gut your fish. To do so, cut a long, shallow incision along the belly of the fish from the anus to the base of the gills. The incision must be shallow, or you’ll nick the intestines, making them harder and much messier to remove.

Remove the fish guts from the abdominal cavity with your fingers or scoop them out with a spoon. We told you it wasn’t going to be fun! The guts should be easy to remove, albeit unpleasant. Don’t miss anything! There might be darker membranes remaining in certain types of fish. Be sure to scrape these out as well to prevent a strong flavour and aroma from making its way into your meal.

Step 5: Remove Fins and Head

Remove the head of the fish if you plan on doing so. Cut it off from directly behind the gills. Some people choose to leave the head on the fish, and in some cooking methods – for trout especially – the head adds flavour and depth to your dish.

Next, remove the dorsal fin at the bottom of the fish (also optional) by quickly pulling it firmly towards the head. Removing the dorsal fin, if done in a swift motion, removes many small bones from your fish. You can also just cut it off.

Dispose of your fish guts responsibly. The cleaning station at the marina should have disposal bins. If you’re out on the open ocean, toss the guts back in, but if you’re in a residential area/smaller lake, it’s best to wrap these up in the newspaper and dispose of them when you’re back on shore.

Step 6: Rinse or Wipe Down the Fish

Quickly rinse the fish in cold water – inside and out – specifically rinsing off any blood, sticky scales, and other random fish bits. There are no cleaning chemicals required here – just water ought to do it. However, don’t overdo it with the water, or else you end up washing away the flavour of the fish. If you prefer, you can gently wipe the fish with a paper towel rather than rinsing it.

Step 7: Cook Your Fishhow to clean fish on a boat - salmon

Depending on your preferred cooking method, you might have more prep work to do before you can cook your fish, like filleting or cutting it into steaks, and removing its backbone prior to cooking (if you’re not BBQing or baking it whole).

Either way, you’re done cleaning and are well on your way to enjoying your catch of the day!

For tips on how to hook the fish in the first place, check out our Lures or Bait debate.

And if you think it might be a while until you catch something, why not prepare a few meals ahead of time before setting sail? Board your boat with these 5 Make-Ahead Boating Meals to tide you over until your big catch.

At Van Isle Marina in Victoria, BC, we are a big boating community who know their fish. Looking for the best fishing boat to help you catch fish in more style and comfort? Check out some of the yachts we have available for sale. We specialize in new Back Cove, Riviera, and Belize motor yachts, in addition to the many pre-owned boats for sale at our marina.