Here are some basic boating terms which may be of
• Port - The left side when facing the bow.
• Starboard - The right side when facing the bow.
• Windward - The direction from which the wind is
• Leeward - The direction in which the wind is going, side away
from the wind
• Amidships - the mid point of the boat between bow and stern,
from side to
• Abeam - A direction to either side of the boat at right angles
a line from bow to
• Ahead - in front of the boat.
• Astern - behind the boat.
• Underway - when the boat is not moored, anchored or
It is floating free
from the earth.
• Leeway - the motion of the boat to leeward.
• No way - when the boat is not moving.
• Making way - when the boat is moving.
While a map gives information about the land, a chart gives
information about the water and the sea bottom.
On a marine chart, the colors have significance. White is
deep water, light blue is shallow water, dark blue is really shallow and green is land that covers and
uncovers with the tide. The dry land is a light tan color. Remember to operate your boat in
the white area, anchor your boat in the light blue and go for a walk on the tan.
What is the difference between a cross, a snowflake and a cross
with 4 dots?
These are rocks of differing heights which are explained
Rock which covers and uncovers with tide, with height above
Rock awash at chart datum
Underwater rock of unknown depth, dangerous to surface
No anchorage area
Kelp Kelp is nature's warning of shallow water. Kelp
usually is found in waters of less then 9 metres(30 feet). The reason is not enough sunlight
penetrates deeper water to enable the kelp to start growing.
Submarine cable Do not anchor in the area and possibly
snag the cable with your anchor.
What do the letters in the water mean?
The letters describe the type of bottom, useful when you are
selecting an anchorage. The composition of the bottom is given with the main ingredient listed
first. Therefore, MSSh is primarily Mud, some Sand and a little Shell.
Stone s St
These symbols are contained in Symbols, Abbreviations,
Terms, Chart 1, available from any chart dealer. It is also available online in either html or PDF
format See Appendix 1 http://www.charts.gc.ca/publications/chart1-carte1/index-eng.asp
How can one determine "upstream" and "downstream" in deciding
to leave markers on port or starboard?
There are six definitions for the "upstream direction".
This is the direction taken by a vessel when proceeding from seaward, upstream in a river, towards the
headwaters of a lake, into a harbour, or with the flood current direction. In general, the upstream
direction is clockwise around North America or in a northerly direction on the Pacific Coast.
Bruce's seventh rule is "Look at the chart" The chart will
always show you the location of the hazard and the safe water. There are at least two locations
near Sidney where if you assume you know what the Aids to Navigation are indicating, you can easily go aground.
When a vessel is proceeding in the upstream direction,
starboard hand aids (Red) must be kept to starboard and port hand aids (Green) must be kept to
port. The basic rule is Red, Right Returning. This rule applies in Area B which includes
North and South America, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Philippines. The rest of the world is
Area A and the colors are reversed.
What is the difference between an Aid to Navigation and a
An Aid to Navigation is located outside the vessel.
Examples are buoys, day beacons, ranges and lighthouses. A Navigation Aid is aboard your vessel
such as compass, depth sounder, timepiece, radar, GPS, and binoculars.
What's the difference between tide tables and current
Tide is the vertical motion of the water caused mainly by the
gravitational effects of the sun and the moon. When there is no vertical motion this is referred to as
stand. Current, or more correctly, tidal stream is the horizontal flow of the water. The current coming
in from the sea is called a flood current while the current flowing out to sea is the ebb current. When
there is no horizontal movement it is referred to as slack, slack water
or the turn. So remember:
Slack water, not slack tide
Flood or ebb current, not flood or ebb tide
Tides rise and fall, currents flood and ebb.
“Commonly used expressions like “flood tide” and “ebb tide”
should be avoided, as they confuse the horizontal motions of tidal currents with the vertical
displacements of the tide” Oceanography of the British Columbia Coast – Richard E
Thomson Published by Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
It is critical to understand that the time of low water stand
and the time of the turn to flood do not normally occur at the same time. In the Sidney area, the
difference of the time of low water stand and the turn to flood in Sidney Channel can be 1 hour and 40
minutes or greater. Likewise the time of high water stand and the turn to ebb do not
How do tide and current affect my navigation?
You need to know the height of the tide, whether it is rising
or falling and by what amount. With this knowledge, you can determine the minimum depth under your
vessel and make an informed decision. Many times we have seen boaters who did not check the tide
and they wake up with their vessel aground. Years ago we were docked at Sidney Spit Marine Park for
the night. Upon checking the tide, we discovered that by 0930 we would be aground. We arose
early, had breakfast, moved the boat to the anchorage and then did the dishes and got
Tides are so important to the safety of your boat and crew. I
witnessed two boats rafted at anchor in Montague Harbour. At the time of anchoring the tide, being
high, provided adequate depth. By 7 a.m. the boats were hard aground when the tide fell
overnight. They had anchors out from their mastheads. Logs served as props under the hulls keeping
the boats from toppling over. By rough calculation they were likely aground between 3 and 4 a.m.
and could not expect the tide to float them off for several hours.
Currents are important when planning your direction of travel
and time of departure. By reading the current tables the night before, you can plan your departure
to take advantage of a favorable current. There is no point getting up early so you can battle an
opposing current for most of the morning. Knowing the direction of the current is of major
importance if you are sailing in the summer when the winds are light.
Even on a power vessel the currents can play a large
factor. On one trip from Sidney to Victoria and return, the current was ebbing with us in the
morning and flooding with us for the return in the afternoon. The client owned a Meridian 38' twin
engine powerboat. The normal cruise speed is 12.1 knots. When we were out in Sidney Channel,
the owner noted our ground speed was 14.2 knots. This was an
increase of over 17% saving fuel and travel time.
By careful planning to take maximum advantage of the currents,
you can minimize your impact on the environment and also your wallet.
Regulations and Licensing
Do I need a license to operate a boat?
Since September, 2009, every operator of a power-driven vessel
in Canada is required to carry proof of proficiency with them. Proof may take three
1. proof of having successfully completed a boating safety
course in Canada prior to April 1, 1999;
2. a pleasure craft operator card issued following the successful completion of a Transport Canada accredited
3. a completed rental-boat safety checklist. The checklist will be provided by the boat rental company
and covers such items as safety equipment, vessel operation and local hazards. A staff member will go
through the list with you prior to departure, both of you will sign and you will be given a copy to show to any
In addition to Proof of Proficiency, a number of insurance
companies have required a minimum number of hours of instruction or CYA certification before they are
allowed to operate on their own.
Besides the Pleasure Craft Operators Certificate, are there any
other certifications required by law for pleasure craft sail and power boaters?
Proof of Proficiency is the only legal requirement to operate a
pleasure vessel, of any size. You will also need photo ID so the Enforcement Officer may verify your
What are the minimum legal requirements to operate a vessel
commercially - eg. fishing guide, tour boat operator or taking paid passengers?
Commercial vessels are now referred to as Non-Pleasure
Operating a non-pleasure vessel falls under Transport Canada
regulations. The requirements vary if you are:
Carrying passengers or only cargo,
Carrying more than 12 passengers,
Operating a vessel of over 5 Gross Tons, approximately 8.5
metres in length,
Operating in sheltered water
Two of the certificates you may need are Marine Emergencies
Duties (MED) and Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP).
The MED A3 is a Basic Safety Course for Operators and Crews
-Small Non-Pleasure vessels of not more that 150 GT,
-not more than 12 passengers,
-without berthed accommodation,
-operating not more that 25 nautical miles from shore, in any waters.
If you are a fishing guide, crew boat or water taxi operator, or operate a non-pleasure vessel for an employer,
you need to have this certificate.
GT is Gross Tonnage which is a measure of the internal volume of the vessel and is not related to the weight of
SVOP is a 26 hour Transport Canada accredited course for
operators of Small Non-Pleasure Vessels. The course meets the
requirements of a stand-alone course which addresses the need for minimum training of operators of
commercial (non-pleasure) vessels, other than tugs and fishing vessels,
- up to 5 gross tonnage engaged on a near coastal, class 2 or a sheltered watersvoyage,
- and for fishing vessels up to 15 gross tonnage or 12 meters overall length engaged on a near coastal,
class 2 (including an inland voyage on Lake Superior or Lake Huron)
- or a sheltered waters voyage.
Most operators will require both a MED
certificate as well as SVOP.
In the Gulf Islands, the RCMP is patrolling and checking that
operators and vessels are properly equipped and have the correct certifications.
If you are considering advertising skippered charters and have
any questions relating to what certificate you may need, contact your Local Transport Canada
office. In the United States, contact the US Coast Guard.
Near Coastal 1
Near Coastal 2
> 2 nautical miles from shore
< 2 nautical miles from shore
Passenger-Carrying Vessels (<12
> 5 GT
Master 150 GT
(Domestic) (if endorsed for limited, contiguous waters)
Limited Master < 60 GT
Limited Master < 60 GT
Limited Master < 60 GT
≤ 5 GT and >
> 6 passengers and ≤; 8 m
≤ 6 passengers and ≤ 8 m
> 5 GT
Master 150 GT
(Domestic) (if endorsed for limited, contiguous waters)
Limited Master < 60 GT
Limited Master < 60 GT
Limited Master < 60 GT
≤ 5 GT and > 8m
≤ 8m (except tugs)
Limited Master < 60 GT
Limited Master < 60 GT
Limited Master < 60 GT
This table is for the convenience of users. If any discrepancy is found between the Marine Personnel Regulations and the table, the Regulations shall
SVOP - Small
Vessel Operator Proficiency training certificate
PCOC - Pleasure Craft Operator Card
GT - gross tonnage
m - metres
> - greater than
< - less than
≤ - less than or equal to Implementation dates for the table are as follows:
≤ 10 GT
≤ 5 GT or ≥ 8m
Nov 7, 2009
Where do I place the vessel license numbers?
As near as possible to the bow, in contrasting color to the
background, in block letters of minimum height of 3”. In Canada pleasure vessel licenses are
obtained from Service Canada. Non-pleasure vessels would apply to Transport Canada.
What do I do if the Coast Guard wants to board my
You shall invite them aboard. Under the Small Vessel
Regulations, Part VII, #46,”An Enforcement Officer may, in order to verify and ensure
compliance with these Regulations
(a) go on board a vessel;
(b) examine a vessel and its equipment;
(c) require that the owner or the master or other person who is
in charge or appears to be in charge of the vessel produce, forthwith,
(ii) any license,
document or plate required by these Regulations; and
(d) ask any pertinent questions of, and demand all reasonable
assistance from, the owner or the master or other person who is in charge or appears to be in charge, of
#47 an enforcement officer may, in order to ensure compliance with
these Regulations or in the interests of public safety, direct or prohibit the movement of vessels or
direct the operator of a vessel to stop it.
What papers are important to have on board to prove ownership,
registration, competency, etc.?
You will need photo ID, proof of competency, a Pleasure Craft
Operator Card is one form, and the license or registration certificate for the vessel. If you have
a VHF radio, you should also have your Radio Operator's Certificate,ROC(M).
Regulations for the
Prevention of Collisions
There are 46 Rules and 4 Annexes contained in these
Regulations. Every boater should be familiar with the content of the Regulations.
Following are a few of the Rules:
Rule 5 Lookout – Every vessel shall at all time maintain a
proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing
circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of
collision. This means if you vessel is equipped with radar, it shall be on and be
Rule 7 Risk of Collision – Every vessel shall use all
available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of
collision exists. If the is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist. When you detect a
vessel approaching, you must use all means available, visual bearing, compass bearings and radar, to
determine if there is a risk of collision. If you are not sure, you must assume there is a risk of
Rule 8 Action to avoid Collision – Any action taken to avoid
collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due
regard to the observance of good seamanship. Any alteration or course or speed shall be readily
apparent to another vessel. Remember – make it big and make it early.
Section II – Conduct of Vessels in Sight of One
Rule 12 – Sailing Vessels
a) When two sailing vessels are approaching one another, so
as to involve risk of collision, one of them shall keep out of the way of the other as
i. when each has the wind on a different side, the vessel which
has the wind on the port side shall keep out of the way of the other, Port tack gives way to Starboard tack
ii. when both vessels have the wind on the same, the vessel which
is to windward shall keep out of the way of the vessel which is to leeward
iii. if a vessel with the wind on the port side sees a vessel to
windward and cannot determine with certainty whether the other vessel has
the wind on the port or on the starboard side, she shall keep out of the way of the other.
b) For the purpose of the Rule the windward side shall be
deemed to be the side opposite to that on which the mainsail is carried. One easy way to remember is
to ask yourself which side of the mainsail are you looking at. If it is the port side you are on
The following three Rules are the same as the Rules on the
Rule 13 Overtaking-International
a) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Rules of Part
B, Sections I and II, any vessel overtaking any other vessel shall keep out of the way of the vessel
being overtaken. Keep clear of the vessel you are overtaking.
Rule 14 Head-on Situation
When two power-drive vessels are meeting on reciprocal or
nearly reciprocal courses so as to involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass on the
port side of the other. This is the narrow road rule.
Rule 15 Crossing Situation-International
(a) When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve
risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and
shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other
vessel. This is the person on the right rule.
Rule 16 Action by Give-way Vessel
Every vessel which is directed to keep out of the way of
another vessel shall, so far as possible, take early and substantial action to keep well
Rule 17 Action by Stand-on Vessel
(a) (i) Where one of two vessels is to keep out of the way of
the other shall, so far as possible, take early and substantial action to keep clear.
(ii)The latter vessel may however take
action to avoid collision by her manoeuvre alone, as soon as it becomes apparent to her that the vessel
required to keep out of the way is not taking appropriate action in compliance with these
What do the various horn/sound signals mean?
Rule 32 Definitions
a) the word “whistle” means any sound signalling appliance
capable of producing the prescribed blasts and which complies with the specifications in Annex II to the
b) The term “short blast” means a blast of about on second's
c) The term “prolonged blast” means a blast of from four to six
Rule 34 Manoeuvring and Warning
(a) When vessels are in sight of one another, a power-driven
vessel underway, when manoeuvring as authorized or required by these Rules, shall indicate that manoeuvre
by the following signals on her whistle:
– one short blast to mean”I am altering my course to
– two short blasts to mean “I am altering my course to
– three short blasts to mean “I am operating astern
Rule 35 Sound Signals in Restricted
The following signals shall be sounded at intervals of not more
than 2 minutes.
In or near an area of restricted visibility, whether by day or
night, the signals prescribed in this Rule shall be used as follows:
A power-driven vessel making way through the water shall sound
one prolonged blast
A power-driven underway but stopped and making no way through
the water shall sound two prolonged blasts in succession with an interval of about 2 seconds between
(c) A vessel not under command, a vessel restricted in her ability
to manoeuvre, a vessel constrained by her draught, a sailing vessel, a vessel engaged in fishing, and a
vessel engaged in towing or pushing another vessel shall, instead of the signals prescribed in paragraph
(a) or (b) of this Rule, sound three blasts in succession, namely one prolonged followed by two short
What do I need to bareboat charter a vessel?
Bareboat charter means you are renting a boat without a skipper
or crew, similar to renting a car. The charterer must have the qualifications to operate the boat
safely. Some charter companies ask that a second person also be qualified in case the primary
skipper is unable to operate the boat.
Most charter companies will look favorably at your
experience. As a former charter fleet operator, I was looking for
experience as an owner or operator of a similar sized vessel to the one they are wanting to
charter. How many days have you spent operating your vessel, how
many nights have you spent at anchor and what waters have you cruised are all questions you may be
asked. Some charter companies consider that Basic, Intermediate and Coastal Navigation are required
to charter. The American Sailing Association calls the Intermediate Standard "Bareboat
Can you answer "YES" to the following questions?
• Am I confident handling a boat of this size in tidal
• Have I the navigational skills to safely pilot a
• Do I have copies of any certification showing my
Do you have any suggestions for an
itinerary to cruise the Gulf Islands departing from Sidney, BC?
First day - the quaint settlement of Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island or anchor at Portland Island.
Second day - Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island. If you are lucky the Dall Porpoises may play around
the bow of the boat as you cross Boundary Pass. Either stay at Beaumont Marine Park on a mooring or at anchor
or docked at Poets Cove Resort. Time for a shower and a swim in the outdoor pool.
Third day - cruise to Montague Harbour Marine Park on Galiano Island. If the winds are light or you want
a short day, you could stay the night at Otter Bay Marina on North Pender Island.
Fourth day - Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island. Ganges is the largest town in the Gulf Islands.
Be sure to check out the Craft Fair and all the shops. If you have a sweet tooth stop at "Glad's Candy
& Ice Cream Shop”.
Fifth day - anchor in Glenthorne Passage on Prevost Island.
Sixth day - dock at Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island or anchor in Royal Cove on Portland Island, whichever
one you missed on the first day.
Seventh day - return to the Marina.
What is the process for becoming a cruising or powerboat
You must be a proficient boater and love to share your
knowledge with others.
Basic Cruising Instructor
1. Be age 18 or older:
2. Have the CYA Basic Cruising Standard;
3. Have the CYA Coastal Navigation Standard;
4. Have 2 or more years sailing experience;
5. Have Red Cross or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid
Certificate or nationally recognized equivalent and a current nationally recognized certificate in CPR
level A or higher;
6. Have a PCOC card;
7. Have a VHF Restricted Operator’s Certificate (Maritime) with
8. Demonstrate characteristics and motivations worthy of being at
CYA LTC/P Instructor;
9. Demonstrate a willingness to support the goals of the CYA LTC/P
Note: It is important candidates be current in their sailing skills
and knowledge prior to entry into Instructor clinics. The sailing evaluation demands above average
basic sailing skills and there is no time during the clinic for remedial work.
You must attend a Basic Cruising Instructor Clinic and
successfully complete all portions.
Basic Powerboat Instructor
1. Be age 18 or older:
2. Have the CYA Basic Outboard Standard;
3. Have 2 or more years boating experience;
4. Have Red Cross or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid
Certificate or nationally recognized equivalent and a current nationally recognized certificate in CPR
level A or higher;
5. Have a PCOC card;
6. Have a VHF Restricted Operator’s Certificate (Maritime) with
7. Demonstrate characteristics and motivations worthy of being at
CYA LTC/P Instructor;
8. Demonstrate a willingness to support the goals of the CYA LTC/P
Why do I need to have a float plan?
A float or sail plan is a document left with a responsible
person ashore. This document contains details of the vessel, who is aboard, route of travel and
arrival and departure times. In the event you do not arrive on time, this information may be passed
to your local police or Coast Guard.
How do I file a float plan?
A sample sail plan is given on page 70 of the Safe Boating
Guide. The Guide may be obtained at most marine retailers and marinas. It is also available
online as noted in Appendix 1.
The sail plan should include the following
Vessel Information including Name ,license number, colour,
distinguishing features, cellular or satellite phone, MMSI number
Safety Equipment on board
Trip details – date and time of departure, route, estimated
date and time of arrival, number of persons on board
Search & Rescue Telephone
The float plan should be left with a responsible person with
directions to call Search & Rescue if you have not returned at the appointed time.
Sail Plan - https://sailingplan.ca/
Are there standards for required equipment?
Yes, in Canada the floatation equipment, flares and fire
extinguisher must meet Canadian standards (consult Transport Canada). Likewise in the United
States, the same equipment must meet US Coast Guard standards.
What Safety equipment do I require on my vessel?
The requirements vary by country, size of vessel and whether it
is a pleasure vessel or not. In Canada the requirements for pleasure vessels are listed in the
"Safe Boating Guide". See Appendix 1. My memory aid is "Five
F's". The items may be grouped into the following Five categories:
Flotation Life jacket or personal flotation
device, floating line, life ring with line
reboarding device to allow a person to board the boat from
Navigation lights, waterproof flashlight, sound signals, manual
device, anchor and line
First Aid for Non-pleasure vessels
What is the recommended man overboard recovery procedure when
If the person is easily visible, an Anderson turn is
appropriate. This is a simple circle back to the victim.
If at night or in poor visibility and the victim has gone out
of sight, use a Williamson Turn.
In response to a man overboard, put the rudder toward the
person e.g., if the person fell over the starboard side, put the rudder over to
• After deviating from the original course by about 60 degrees,
put the rudder to the opposite side.
• When heading about 20 degrees short of the reciprocal, put the
rudder amidships so that vessel will turn onto the reciprocal course. Look for the bubbles from your wake
in the water and steer into the middle of the bubbles.
There is currently some debate about approaching the
victim. If you have the vessel to windward of the victim, the vessel will drift down onto the
victim. With a small vessel, their legs may go under the hull and make it very difficult to bring
them aboard. If you approach the victim from downwind, they will
be facing you and you should have better control of your vessel. Use a heaving line to make contact
with the victim and bring them to the vessel. As they come alongside, stop your engine.
If under sail
Call loudly “man overboard”
1. Assign a person to keep the victim in sight and clearly point
towards him or her.
2. Hit the MOB button on the GPS
3. Start the engine and leave it in idle
4. Change course to a beam reach and hold for 15
5. Head into the wind and tack, leave the jib
6. Veer off until the boat is at a broad reach
7. Turn up wind until the vessel is pointing at the victim, at
this point the vessel should be on a close reach.
8. Slacken the main sail until the vessel comes to a stop with the
victim in the lee side of the boat
9. Hoist the victim on board with a sling, the spinnaker halyard
can be very helpful if it is available.
Diagrams obtained from Wikipedia
What is the use of a heaving line?
A heaving line has many uses. It may be used to assist in
recovering a person overboard, passing line to a dock attendant or passing a line to a disabled vessel so
they may be taken under tow. My personal preference is a throw bag which contains the line.
To use the throw bag, the mouth of the bag is opened and the end of the line retrieved. Often the
end has either a spliced loop or a bowline. Holding the end of the line, you throw the bag and the
line feeds out as the bag flies through the air. If you are standing, you may throw the bag
underhand, keeping your elbow locked. If you are sitting in a kayak, you may throw the bag sidearm.
Should I wear my PFD while aboard my
I have recently viewed a new DVD Cold Water Boot
Camp which clearly shows why everyone needs to be wearing a PFD or
lifejacket while aboard aboat. If you think you do not need to wear your PFD
because you are a good swimmer, viewing this video will likely cause you to change your mind.
You may view a short version by download or the DVD is available by contacting the producer.
What fabrics best protect from hypothermia in the water? Is
wool better than cotton, if one prefers natural fibers?
"When you are in the water it really depends on the thickness
of the clothing for insulation. When you get out of the water things are different. Wool will
provide more protection and it is easier to get the water out of it and dry it (as long as it is not cold
enough for the water to quickly freeze). Cotton will basically never dry out and provides poor
insulation when wet." Dr. Gord
What are the dangers of a lee shore?
A lee shore is the shore that is located on the lee side,
downwind, of your vessel. The danger is if you lose your engine and cannot anchor, you will end up
aground on the lee shore. For example, when sailing from Victoria to San Francisco, the Washington,
Oregon and California shores are lee shores to the prevailing westerlies. Most people will sail
from 65 to 150 miles off-shore to give themselves the sea room they feel is required. If they encounter a
storm from the west and need to run down-wind, there will be miles of sea room before they get near the
Why is it important to operate the blower motor before starting
Gasoline fumes are heavier than air and will settle into the
bilge and create an explosion hazard. By running the blower, you will remove these fumes from your
vessel. Under the Canada shipping Act, Small Vessel Regulations, Part VI, #39
“No person shall start up a gasoline-powered small vessel
unless the engine space blower has been operated for a period of not less than 4 minutes immediately
before the start-up. This is also a ticketable offence under The
Contraventions Act. To be safe, sniff the exhaust from the blower. If there is a strong
smell of gasoline, Do Not Start your engine. Open your engine compartment and investigate to
determine the source of the fumes.
In the summer of 2009, I was
at a fuel dock in Sidney when a vessel refueled. They ran the blower, but did not check for
fumes. When the engine was started, there was an explosion and fire. Fortunately, they were
able to extinguish the fire and only one person suffered burns to his arm. Upon investigation, the
source of the gas was the clamps on the fill hose at the fuel tank were loose. The boat had just
been serviced and it appeared that the fill hose had been changed and the hose clamps had not been
tightened upon installation. Gasoline was visible on the top of the tank and in the bilge.
The people on the boat were extremely lucky.
Tools and Spares
What tools should I carry in my tool kit?
A basic tool kit includes the following:
A set of Allen keys, both standard and metric,
A multi-bit screwdriver,
What parts should I carry?
This is a partial list which must be added to for your specific
Fuses to replace every fuse onboard. Check every
instrument's power supply cable for an in-line fuse holder.
Spare bulbs for every light, including your navigation
Electrical and duct tape,
Spare flexible wire – be sure to use marine grade wire which is
tinned to prevent corrosion,
wooden bungs to fit every through-hull fitting,
fuel and oil filters,
engine, transmission, steering, and trim tab oils,
water pump impellers and/or a spare pump,
spare propeller, nuts and washers – make sure you have a socket
or wrench that fits the nut,
spare belts for the engine,
if you have a gas engine, spare spark plugs, points and
an assortment of stainless hardware such as bolts, nuts,
screws, cotter pins and split rings.
A good practice if you are planning a long trip is to purchase
all the spare parts you may need. Before departure install all the spares and put the used parts in
storage as your spares. There are a number of advantages to this procedure:
1. You now know how to install the part,
2. If you have any difficulty, your mechanic is nearby
3. You know you have the correct tools you will need
4. You have verified that the factory shipped you the correct
part. There is nothing like being hundreds of miles from home awaiting a part and then finding out
that the wrong part has been shipped.
What is the proper way of setting an anchor?
Anchoring is a method of using your boats anchor to secure the boat for a short time, such as lunch or perhaps
The objective is to lower the anchor to the bottom, lay out the anchor rode with slack and when you have the
required amount of rode deployed secure the rode and let the anchor set into the bottom.
Choosing an Anchorage – Pre-requisites
When choosing an anchorage there are four criteria you should
1. Shelter from wind and waves - you want to be anchored in a protected area away from any other traffic.
2. Good holding bottom - composition of the sea bed that will give your anchor a firm hold. We are fortunate in
thePacific Northwest that many harbours have bottoms that are composed of mud, sand,
shells and clay.
3. Adequate depth at low water - over the years I have seen a number of boaters who forgot to check the range
of the tide overnight. It is a real shock to wake up falling out of your bunk because you have gone
4. Swing room - refers to the requirement for your vessel to be able to swing 360 degrees around the anchor and
not contact any hazards or other boats.
What is Scope when anchoring?
Scope is the ratio of the amount of anchor rode you are using
divided by the distance from the bottom to your anchor roller. Always remember to allow for the
height of the tide during your stay.
If you are using a line & chain combination the following
ratios are considered the minimum for safety:
Lunch stop - 3:1
Overnight - 5:1
Open anchorage - 7:1
Let us look at an example. The harbour chart indicates a depth
of 20 feet at Lowest Normal Tide. When we arrive the tide has a height of 3' and will be rising to a
height of 7' overnight. The anchor roller is located 3' above waterline.
Therefore the maximum depth overnight will be
20' charted depth + 7' of tide = 27'
Height of anchor roller above water = 3'
Total distance= 30'
If we are stopping overnight and want a scope of 5:1 we will need to use 30' x 5 = 150' of rode.
The only way to determine the amount of rode you are using is
to have the anchor rode marked. There are plastic markers available which are woven into the
strands of the anchor line, they are colored coded and marked with the length.
If you are using an all chain rode, you can spray paint the
chain. A sample code I have used is Red at 5 metres, White at 7 metres and Blue at 10 metres.
The pattern then repeats and at 20 metres paint two Blue bands and
every 10 metres I add another Blue band.
What is the swing circle for anchoring?
Swinging circle is the area your vessel may occupy as it swings
to its anchor. For practical purposes you may assume the radius of the circle is equal to the
length of the anchor rode you have deployed. Once your anchor is set, you have claim to the area of
your swinging circle. If another vessel anchors within your circle, you are within your rights to
ask them to move to avoid any possible contact between the vessels.
The Anchoring Process
How to avoid yelling!
Here is a simple step by step process that will allow you and
your crew to anchor confidently and quietly.
1. Select your anchorage using the criteria in "Choosing Your Anchorage" above.
2. Check the chart for any hazards and circle around your selected anchoring watching your depth sounder.
3. Discuss with your crew your anchoring plan so everyone knows where you plan to anchor.
4. Proceed to your desired anchoring location, heading into the wind or current, whichever is stronger.
5. Have your crew lower the anchor until it is just in the water. The crew can observe the wave around the
anchor and observe when the vessel has stopped.
6. Go astern with your engine(s) to stop the vessel.
7. When the crew observes there is no wave around the anchor, that is the signal to lower away.
8. At this time your vessel will be moving astern as the crew
pays out the anchor rode. It is important that there be no tension in the anchor rode as this will cause
the anchor to drag across the bottom.
9. You may need to go to neutral to reduce the vessel's speed.
10. When the crew has let out the correct amount of rode, they secure the anchor rode by cleating the line or
stopping the winch.
11. When the anchor bites into the bottom, tension will come on the rode and the bow of the vessel will swing
and point towards the anchor.
12. The crew will observe the anchor rode coming taut and the angle of the rode to the water surface will
13. Operate astern propulsion while everyone aboard observes a range or transit. This is simply two objects
ashore that are in line. If the objects remain in line then the vessel is not moving and the anchor is set.
14. To confirm that the anchor is well set, you may want to slowly increase engine RPMs while observing the
range. It is better to find out the anchor is not holding at 4:00 pm than at 4:00 am!
15. Once you are satisfied that the anchor is holding, slowly idle down and go to Neutral. You will observe the
range moving as the anchor rode pulls the vessel forward.
How do I use a stern Line?
In a crowded anchorage, you may want to limit your swing. One
way to do this is to take a stern line to shore. Make sure that other boats around you are doing the same
thing or you will have other vessels swinging into you.
Usually the vessel is anchored and a crew member takes the dinghy to shore carrying the end of a stern line.
The line is secured around a tree or large rock. In some of the Marine Parks, eye bolts have been secured in
the rocky shoreline and are often marked with a blaze of paint or red survey tape. In this case, the preferred
method is to run the line from the vessel, through the eye bolt and back to the vessel. In the morning it is
just a matter of releasing one end of the line from the vessel and pulling the line back.
An easy way to store the line is to use a garden hose reel. A former owner of one of the charter vessels gave
me this tip. He bought a plastic hose reel, removed all the hose fittings and then took the reel to a local
chandler and had it filled with a polypropylene line.
The challenge is estimating your distance from shore so you have the correct scope. Often with students, we
would end up with more scope that required. We would set the anchor and when the student had taken the stern
line to shore, they would come to the end of the line before they returned to the vessel. It was then a matter
of letting out more anchor rode until the stern line could be brought back to the vessel.
A trip line can be used to recover the anchor from a foul
bottom. The trip line is secured to the anchor so that the anchor can be pulled out backwards. The trip line
must at least equal the depth at high water. The upper end can be tied to a float which will mark the
position of your anchor. To recover the anchor, row out in your dinghy and pull up on the trip line. The
trip line may also be secured to the anchor rode itself leaving some slack in the line. To recover the
anchor take in the rode until you can reach the trip line. Untie it from your rode, slack the rode and pull
in the trip line.
Under what circumstances is it safe to sleep on an anchored or
moored boat without someone staying awake to keep watch?
The first few nights you are anchored overnight, you likely
will not sleep well. I can remember the early days when I would be awake a number of times during
the night to check. In the dark, the shore always looks closed than it was during daylight
If you are in a sheltered anchorage and you have the confidence
that your anchor
is properly set and the winds are light, you may sleep through
the night. On more than one occasion when the winds were strong, I have stood an anchor watch
through the night, or until the winds died down. You might decide to split the watch between
members of your crew with each person taking two hours on watch. Fortunately, in the Gulf Islands
in the summer, it is rare that it is windy during the night.
In a sailboat, if you are caught in an adverse tidal current at
or near your hull speed, what should you do? If the depth allows it and you are not in a busy channel, is
it safe to anchor to hold position and wait out the current?
Absolutely. I had a occasion in a sailing race where we
were sailing in an opposing current in light wind and I noticed by observing a range ashore that we were
not making any progress. I suggested to the skipper that we anchor and she agreed. I asked
the crew to lower the anchor over the side of the bow and not to use the anchor roller because of the
noise it would make. I did not want to alert any of the other racers to what we were doing.
We were sailing under spinnaker at the time. Because we had a slight bit of speed, the anchor rode
angled off our port bow. The crew then sat in the cockpit eating our lunch. The fun part was
when we started to move up through the fleet and we had at least one boat call over to ask what we were
doing. They did not realize that we were not moving forward, just the rest of the fleet was being
swept backward by the flood current.
How do I use a mooring buoy in the Marine Parks?
Approach the mooring with your bow facing into the wind or current,
whichever is stronger. Bring the boat to a stop with the buoy just off your bow. When picking up a
mooring with your boat hook, it is usually easier to insert your boat hook through the ring on the top of the
buoy rather than trying to hook the ring from the outside. The ring is attached to the mooring chain
which should slide up the pipe in the middle of the buoy so you may lift the ring up to your deck to attach
your lines. Some chains will not pull through the pipe due to mussels or weed on the chain.
What licenses are required to operate a VHF radio legally in
The Restricted Operator's Certificate, Maritime, ROC(M) is the
minimum standard for Canadians to operate a VHF Radio. This certificate will also allow you to
operate a Medium Frequency(MF) or High Frequency(HF) Marine band radios on a voluntary fitted
vessel. This certificate is valid for life.
As long as you never transmit, is it legal to monitor Channel
16 or Channel 11 from a handheld radio on land?
No, turning on the radio is considered operating the
Why might I need a handheld VHF radio?
A handheld VHF is useful as a backup to the main radio or for
use in your dinghy. In an emergency, you might lose power or the antenna of your main radio.
I carry a Standard Horizon HX850s whenever I am on the water. This radio is waterproof, floats and
has a 12 channel GPS so you can transmit a Distress call using the Digital Selective Calling
feature. The HX851 is now available and it includes the ability to store 200
What are the correct phrases for VHF Radio
ACKNOWLEDGE Let me know that you have received and understood this
AFFIRMATIVE Yes, or permission granted.
BREAK To indicate the separation between portions of the message. (To
be used where there is no clear distinction between the text and other portions of the
CHANNEL Change to channel .......... before proceeding.
CONFIRM My version is _____. Is that correct?
CORRECTION An error has been made in this transmission (message
indicated). The correct version is _____.
GO AHEAD Proceed with your message.
HOW DO YOU READ? How well do you receive me?
I SAY AGAIN Self-explanatory (use instead of “I repeat”).
NEGATIVE No, or that is not correct, or I do not agree.
OVER My transmission is ended and I expect a response from
OUT Conversation is ended and no response is expected.
READBACK Repeat all of this message back to me exactly as received after
I have given OVER. (Do not use the word “repeat”.)
ROGER I have received all of your last transmission.
STANDBY I must pause for a few seconds or minutes, please
SAY AGAIN Self-explanatory. (Do not use the word “repeat”.)
THAT IS CORRECT Self-explanatory.
What do the terms "Mayday", "Pan Pan" and "Security" mean and
when is it appropriate to use them?
These are the three priority words used in Marine
The three signals are:
Word used "Mayday"
Word used "Pan Pan"
Word used "Sécurité"
The Distress signal indicates that the station sending the
(1) Threatened by grave and imminent danger and requires
immediate assistance, or
(2) Aware that a ship, aircraft or other vehicle is threatened
by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance.
Example - Vessel on fire, sinking, aground
The Urgency Signal is Pan Pan spoken three times.
The Urgency signal indicates that the station calling has a very urgent message to transmit concerning
the safety of a ship, aircraft or other vehicle or the safety of a person.
Example - vessel broken down, out of fuel and in no immediate danger
The Safety Signal is the word "Sécurité" spoken three
times. The safety signal indicates that the station calling is about to transmit a message
containing an important navigational or meteorological warning.
Example - BC Ferries entering Active Pass, a large log at the harbour entrance, a tug which has lost its tow,
Coast Guard Radio announcing a change in the forecast to a storm warning.
Phonetic Alphabet for VHF radio
The words of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
phonetic alphabet should be learned thoroughly. When it is necessary to spell out words, the following
table should be used.
CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE
Hotel HOH TELL
IN DEE AH
JEW LEE ETT
Lima LEE MAH
November NO VEM BER
Oscar OSS CAH
Papa PAH PAH
Quebec KEH BECK
Romeo ROW ME OH
Sierra SEE AIR RAH
Tango TANG GO
Uniform YOU NEE FORM or OO NEE FORM
Victor VIK TAH
Whiskey WISS KEY
X-ray ECKS RAY
Yankee YANG KEY
Zulu ZOO LOO
Example: To report a missing child with the surname Schmidt:
SIERRA, CHARLIE, HOTEL, MIKE, INDIA, DELTA, TANGO
To order the Radio Course
Required navigational equipment is a little different for large
and small boats but all marine navigation is dependent upon knowing these five things:
- Distance and
Since you need to know these five things, you require navigational gear that will give accurate information
about all five of them regardless of the size of boat.
A compass is a necessity and we aren't discussing one of those freebies that come in breakfast cereal. You need
a big and steady compass that can be easily read even in adverse weather conditions. A compass gives direction
which is the first information that you need for navigation.
If you wear a digital watch (water proof and shock proof,) and one with a stop watch function, you can
determine the next three pieces of required information for navigation. If you know any two of the next three
factors (speed, time and distance) the third can be easily calculated using the Sixty D Street formula covered
in the Home Study Coastal Navigation
Essentially you can cover 4 of the 5 required pieces of navigational information with a compass, a digital
watch and a knotmeter which will give you speed and distance traveled.
A simple depth finder can cover the 5th requirement but if you can, find and buy a good GPS/Chart Plotter/Depth
Sounder unit. These units aren't all that inexpensive but when you consider the value of human life, they
aren't all that expensive either.
You should always carry paper charts covering your planned route. As anyone who operates apersonal computers knows all too well, electronics can breakdown and it's always at the worst
possible moment. A compass and a paper chart will still be there even if the entire electrical system on your
Do I require a depth sounder?
Although not required, a depth sounder can be helpful to
determine the water depth for anchoring and if it is safe to stay overnight alongside a dock. A
depth sounder can also assist you in determining your location. Unless you purchase a scanning
sonar, a depth sounder will likely not prevent you from running
aground. By the time the sounder shows shallow water, you are probably already
aground. The sounder only reads the depth directly under your vessel.
Which should I purchase first, radar or GPS?
My personal first choice would be Radar. In restricted
visibility or at night, radar will show me where I am and other vessels around me. Many pleasure
boaters will purchase a GPS Chart plotter first as they will rarely be underway in restricted visibility
or at night. Most of the new electronic systems allow you to use one display to show various
information. You can purchase the display and the GPS and later plug in a radar unit. These
integrated systems allow you to display the various information in split screen mode such as radar on the
top and chart plotter on the bottom of the screen. Many systems also allow you to do "Radar
Overlay" where the radar display is overlaid on top of the chart image making it very easy to understand
the radar image.
Just remember that no electronic aid can replace basic
navigational skills. When all else fails, you can rely on your eyes and a paper chart.
Does it matter the order I take bearings?
When taking bearings from a moving vessel, it is important to
take the bearings quickly so that there is little change in position. Bearings that are taken off to the
side of the vessel will change more quickly than bearings that are ahead or astern. Therefore, take the
bearings to either side of the vessel together to minimize the position error.
How do I steer a boat with a tiller?
The first time you try steering a boat with a tiller it likely
feels awkward and confusing. When you move the tiller, the boat turns the opposite way.
One memory aid is when moving forward point the tiller towards what you want to avoid. When moving backwards
point the aft end of the tiller the way you want the boat to turn.
This applies to tiller steered outboard motors also.
Can you explain handling a sailing dinghy?
There are three basic controls on a sailing dinghy. They are
steering, sail trim and weight. All these controls inter-relate and it may be confusing for the
To learn what each control does, only adjust one at a time. For example, remain in the same place in the boat,
keep the tiller centered and adjust your sail or sails. See what happens. Start with the wind on the side of
your boat (abeam). Let the sails out until they start to shake(luffing) and observe what happens. The boat
slows down. Bring the sails in until they just stop luffing. Notice the boat start to pick up speed. Now bring
the sails in as far as you can. What happens to the speed and the angle of tilt(heel) of the boat?
Now bring in the sails until they have just stopped luffing. Now use the tiller to turn the boat one way and
then the other. What happens to the speed and the heel?
Now return to a position with the wind abeam, sails just stopped luffing and the tiller centered. Now try
moving yourself from side to side and forward and back. What happens to the heel? Does the boat turn? Which
By only changing one control at a time, you will obtain a better understanding of the effect each control has
on the performance of your dinghy.
Which way will the stern move if I back a twin screw vessel on
port shaft only?
Nearly every twin engine vessel has the engines installed so
the propellers rotate outwards in forward gear. The port shaft rotates counter-clockwise and the
starboard rotates clockwise. Because the prop shaft is angled to the water flow the propeller
blades have a different angle to the water and develop an asymmetric thrust. The net effect is the
stern will move the way the propeller is rotating. The port shaft will be rotating clockwise, to
starboard, therefore the stern will swing to starboard.
How do I handle twin engines?
For many people, moving from a single engine to a twin engine
vessel is a big step. If you are used to an outboard or inboard-outboard, it will take a mental shift
when learning twin engines with shaft drive.
The first difference you will notice is that operating astern propulsion is not as
effective as on vessels with legs. The rudder is not effective
when going astern until you have the boat moving and water flowing across the rudder.
Rule 1 for beginners:
Neutral is your best friend - especially as the size and weight of the vessel increases it is important to keep
the speed of the vessel at the minimum required to retain control. Speed is your enemy and when you go into
gear only stay in gear 1 - 2 seconds. This will prevent the vessel from gathering speed which gives you less
time to react and think. Usually, the objective is to coast the vessel to its berth. When you have 65,000 lbs.
under you, that is a lot of momentum.
To start we will have our engines at idle and the rudders centered. Mostly we will use only the gear levers to
steer the boat. There are a number of memory aids to assist you in operating the controls.
1. Pretend the two gear levers are the handlebars of a bicycle. If you want to turn to port, move the gear
levers the same as you would with a bike. In this case Starboard engine forward and Port engine astern.
2. Stand at the helm and grasp the gear levers, one in each hand. If you lock your elbows and simply rotate
your upper body so you are facing the direction you want the boat to move, you automatically move the correct
lever in the correct direction.
3. Imagine parentheses (curved brackets) alongside the gear levers. For example, if we use o to represent the
gear levers and the parentheses would indicate the direction the boat would move.
(o o) If we move the port lever forward, the boat would move forward and the bow would turn to starboard.
Most of the time when docking or undocking you would have your rudders centered and the engines at idle. You
handle the boat by moving only the gear levers.
To execute a slow turn to starboard, you would move the port gear lever forward. To make the turn tighter, you
would move the starboard lever astern(reverse).
For further information on many aspects of boat handling, visit our E-lessons
Why do things work this way?
Nearly all twin inboard engine vessels have the transmissions
set so the propellers are turning outwards when operating ahead, in
forward gear. When looking from the stern towards the bow the Starboard prop will rotate clockwise, Right
hand, and the Port propeller will rotate counterclockwise, Left hand.
Because the prop shaft is angled there is a sideways thrust which is most noticeable when you go astern. This
is called P-effect or commonly called prop-walk. If you consider the prop as a wheel at the stern, when the
port prop operates astern and rotates clockwise, it will move the stern of the vessel to Starboard. Because the
propeller is off-center it generates a twisting motion to the vessel which also moves the stern to
If we wish to dock starboard side to the dock, we will approach at a shallow angle. We want the boat to coast
up to the dock so we use neutral to control our speed. Just before you think that the hull is about to hit the
dock, put the port engine astern briefly. The boat should stop, the bow swings out and the stern swings up to
Points to remember:
1. Rudders amidship, centered
2. Engines at idle
3. Control your speed by using neutral. Around the marina or near other vessels, neutral is your best
4. Steer the vessel by using the gear levers only. (See the above notes) For those people who have experience
driving skid steer loaders or army tanks, you have an advantage.
When would I use the rudders?
Up to this point, we have the rudders centered. By turning your
wheel in the direction of the turn, you can have the vessel turning quicker. For a turn to port:
1. Put your wheel hard to port,
2. Starboard engine ahead and port engine astern.
For a turn to starboard you would reverse the wheel and engines.
Sometime when backing into a slip, the wind will push you away from the float so your crew is unable to step
ashore with the stern line. If the float were on your starboard side and you are a couple of feet off the
float, a technique is to use the wheel. Put your wheel away from the float, in this case to port, and then go
ahead on the dockside, starboard engine. The stern will swing toward the float. To stop the forward motion, you
could place the port engine astern at the same time.
How do I walk a boat sideways?
Sometimes you need to move a boat sideways and the boat does not have bow and stern
There are a number of ways to accomplish this maneuver. This is one way I have taught and used successfully on
vessel ranging from Bayliner 3818 to Ferretti 55.
Assume you wish to dock on your starboard side and your boat is 10 feet away and parallel to the dock. Put your
wheel hard to port and momentarily place the starboard engine in forward and the port engine in reverse.
Because of the rudders, the stern will take a large swing to starboard, towards the dock. Both engines to
neutral and then starboard in reverse and port forward. What you are accomplishing is to bring the bow back in
line with the stern and parallel to the dock. Shift to neutral on both engines and repeat the sequence. The
boat will move to starboard and towards the dock.
You may need to adjust the amount of time you stay in gear on each engine so the boat does not move forward or
aft. When you have the rhythm correct, the boat will slide nicely sideways.
Always remember to place your rudders in the direction opposite the way you want the boat to move.
Lots of ferries out there off Victoria. How far do I need
to give them clearance?
I try to keep as far away from the ferries as possible.
If I am meeting a ferry in a channel, I will keep over to my starboard side. Near Swartz Bay
terminal there may be four ferries arriving or departing. By listening to VHF channel 11, which is
the Marine Communications and Traffic Services channel for Victoria Traffic, you will hear the vessels
announcing their departures. A good practice is to tune your radio to Channel 11and then select
Dual Watch (DW on some radios). This allows your radio to scan between both Channel 16 and Channel
If you are not sure of the ferry's intentions, you may call the
vessel on Channel 11. If you cannot read the ferry's name, an example call could be:
“BC Ferry southbound off Beaver Point, this is the sailing
vessel Daisy 1.5 miles off your port bow, on Channel 11, Over.” A quick call can easily clarify the
What should be included in a pre-departure
Safety equipment – Do you have all the equipment required by
law? Is it serviceable and easily accessible? Flares less than four years old? Fire
extinguisher serviced within the year?
Put on PFD’s (Personal Floatation Devices) or
Lifejackets. Ensure proper sizes for all persons. Are they in good condition?
Weather – Check the forecast and monitor the weather throughout
Float plan – File a plan with a responsible telling them where
you are going and when you will return.
Carry a First Aid Kit, basic tools and spare parts.
Navigation aids – do you have all the charts and publication
Fuel – plan on using 1/3 of the fuel to get to your
destination, 1/3 to return and 1/3 in reserve.
Fluid levels – check all engine fluids, water, holding and fuel
Engine – check all hoses, lines and belts
Vessel condition – Are all systems maintained and
operational? I have had a number of instances teaching on other people's vessels where we found
stiff gear shift, frozen steering, inoperative bilge pumps and leaks. It is usually far easier to
fix a problem when you are secured alongside in a marina.
If you are launching a boat, make sure the drainage plug is in
Conduct a safety briefing for your guests so they can assist
you in an emergency.
What is the difference between wash and wake?
Wash is the disturbed water caused by the propeller or jet
Wake is the disturbed water caused by the motion of the
vessel's hull passing
through the water. Be aware you, the vessel operator, are responsible for any damage caused by your
What knots do I need to know?
There are eight knots, bends, and hitches every boater should
know. First some definitions:
A knot – tied in a single piece of line
A bend – used to tie two lines together
A hitch – used to tie a line to another object
Knots – Reef – used to tie the ends of a line together, tying
up a sail or package
Bowline – forms a non-slip loop in a line
Figure of eight – stops a line from slipping through a block or pulley
Bends – Sheet bend – Joining a small line to a larger
Double sheet bend – more secure that the sheet bend
Hitches – Clove Hitch – to tie a line to a rail, good for
hanging your fenders
Round Turn and 2 half hitches – for securing the vessel to the dock
Rolling Hitch – allows you to apply load along the length of the line
useful to take strain on another line.
In addition, it is vitally important that every boater know how
to secure or belay a line to a cleat. Some boaters refer to this as a cleat hitch. For
detailed videos on how to tie the above, please refer to the Web site
What is flag etiquette?
The flag for the country of origin is flown from the stern
staff on a powerboat and traditionally 1/3 of the way up the leach of the mainsail. Today most
sailboats also use the stern staff. The size of the flag should equal 1” of flag length for each
foot of vessel length.
When visiting a foreign country, a smaller version of the flag
of the country you are visiting is flown from the starboard side of the mast.
Traditionally your yacht club burgee was flown from the
masthead. Today with wind direction indicators and radio antennas on the mast, the club burgee is
often flown at the starboard spreader. On a power vessel the club burgee is flown from the bow
What is the best thing to do if you experience a "knockdown" in
A knockdown is when a strong gust of wind pushes a sailboat
over onto its side. Your response should be to immediately ease the sheets, the lines that control
the sail. This will spill the wind from the sails and allow the boat to return upright.
Is there a rule of thumb for how big a log you must absolutely
not hit with a GRP (glass reinforced plastic) hull to avoid damage?
Not that I know, nothing bigger than what you can throw with
one hand. However, even a small stick can damage your propeller if you strike it at
The "Avoidance Technique" should be used to avoid anything
floating in the water.
This technique consists of turning away from the object in the
water, which you would do instinctively. As the object approaches your bow you turn hard towards it
which swings your stern and your propeller(s) away. Normally you should be steering with your left
hand and your right hand should be on the throttle. If you cannot avoid hitting the object,
throttle to idle to avoid a high-speed impact with the propellers.
What size of waves can I expect at various wind
The size of the waves in open water are dependent on a number
Fetch - the distance over which the wind has blown
Duration - how long has the wind been blowing
For example, to have average wave heights of 2.5 feet, you
would need a wind speed of 15 knots. a fetch of 34 nautical miles for a duration of 6 hours.
Likewise, for average wave heights of 5 feet, you would require a wind speed of 20 knots blowing over a
fetch of 75 miles for 10 hours.
For more detailed information, consult a reference book such as
Oceanography of the British Columbia Coast by Richard Thomson
BONUS - Bruce's Boating Tips
These tips are offered for your enlightenment. Most are
suitable for the beginning boat owner and others may be of general interest. Please comment on any of
these tips or submit suggestions for your own favourite tips. Neither Gulf Islands Cruising School Ltd.
or the author assume any liability for the following information.
Never abandon ship until you have to step UP into your liferaft. This avoids abandoning ship too soon.
Cast off the slack lines first. Typically, there will be one or two dock lines under tension due to wind or
current. Untie these lines last.
When your position is in doubt, assume the worst case as close to the nearest hazard.
When taking bearings from a moving boat, take the bearings off each side one after the other. Because of the
boat movement, the bearings to the side will change most quickly. By taking these bearings together you will
improve the accuracy of your fix.
When in doubt, let the sheet out. Let the sheet out until the sail luffs.
When the depth sounder reads less than the boat's draft, you are definitely aground.
Here are some time honoured rhymes to assist you.
Not under Command
Red over red the Captain is dead. Two red lights vertically indicates boat Not Under Command(NUC).
also Two black balls or red on red, then you know her rudder's dead.
When two side lights you see ahead,
Starboard turn and show your red.
Green to green, or red to red,
Perfect safety, go ahead.
If to your starboard, red appear,
It is your duty to keep clear,
To act as judgment says is proper
To port or starboard, back or stop her;
But if upon your port is seen
A steamer's starboard light of green
There's not so much for you to do
For green to port keeps clear of you.
If to port is clearly seen
A steamer's starboard light of green
There's not so much for you to do
For green to port keeps clear of you.
If to your starboard, red appear,
It is your duty to keep clear,
To act and do as you think proper
port or starboard, back or stop her;
Steamers, white light on the mast,
A sailor no such light will cast.
But if she shows red over green
Then a sailor you have seen.
If moving white light, you discern
Then you know you've seen her stern.
One or two white lights and stopped,
Be sure her anchor she has dropped.
Green over white - trawling light,
Red on white - catch fish they might.
Two black cones, their points a kissing,
By day you're sure that they are fishing.
A third, point up, like a cuckold,
Then your course well clear you hold.
Three black balls to heaven bound,
Shows that boat is aground.
If by night to ground she's wed,
Two white lights and red on red.
Sailing boat, sails raised & under
A sailing craft, cone pointed down,
Her engine's pushing, driving home.
Two sailing boats meeting, wind on
When the wind is on your port,
Then of wisdom don't be short.
Like the dogs of the street,
You'll avoid them when you meet.
Two sailing boats, wind on same side:
If you are closer to the wind,
Of her stay clear and peace you'll find.
Sail & power meeting in confined
No matter if you're a big three master,
If she's got power, she is faster.
A barquentine or sleek square rigger,
If she's got power, she is bigger.
To yourself, you always say,
"She has power - keep out of the way!"
Sail & power meeting in open water:
(Don't count on this one!)
When well clear, and in the offing,
The steamer's cap to you she's doffing,
To you the stand on she'll give
But keep well clear and you will live!
Weather Memory Aids
Use of the barometer
A sudden drop in pressure foretells stormy weather and
rain. The sharper the drop in pressure, the more severe the winds will be.
At sea with low and falling glass
The greenhorn sleeps like a careless ass
But when the glass is high or rising
May soundly sleeps the careful wise one
A sudden rise in pressure from a very low reading forecasts a
Quick rise after low
Foretells a stronger blow
The rate of change in pressure can also indicate the
Long foretold, long last
Soon coming, soon past
If you see signs of deteriorating weather for many hours, that
is an indication that the weather is moving in slowly and it will therefore be with you for some
time. If the weather changes very suddenly, it means that the weather system is moving quickly and
will pass through quickly.
1. When secured to a dock, the stern will often
move away from the dock due to the angle of the stern line. Instead of bending over and pulling on
the stern line, simply step on the line between the dock cleat and the boat to bring the stern gently
close to the dock. The technique has been proven effective on boats up to 65 feet.
2. Another way to rig your stern line is to take it to the
cleat on the side of the boat away from the dock. This gives the line a better angle to keep the
stern closer to the dock.
3. When docking a boat by yourself, a handy idea is to step
ashore with a mid-ship breast line. The line goes to the dock at
right angles to the boat. Once this line is secured, the bow and stern cannot move very far.
Very helpful when the wind is blowing the boat off the dock.
4. If you leave a little slack in the mid-ship line, it can be
used as a after-midship spring line. Lead the line from a midship cleat aft to the dock.
Place your rudder away from the dock and go ahead at idle. The boat's stern will be pushed against
the dock making it easy to load your crew and their gear. This also works well when the wind is off
the dock. When you are ready to depart, go to neutral, cast off your line and the wind will blow
you clear of the dock.
Aids to Navigation
The stripes on the bifurcation, fairway and isolated danger
aids point to the safe water location.
To remember the colour, shape and number of the lateral
Assuming you are in the FOG, you want to return to a
safe PORT. Port had bouys are:
Green in colour
Solid colour aids have a letter that defiines the area and a
number. The numbers usually increase proceeding from seaward. There is one exception off
Swartz Bay where they added a new bouy so you come to U18 and then U 16. Multiple colour
bouys are letter & letter such as UH.
The cones point to the black portion of the aids. The
light flashes are the same as a clock face. East is 3 flashes, south has 6 + 1 Long flash and West
is 9 flashes. North is just quick flashing.
POWERBOAT COURSES - http://www.cruising.bc.ca/power.htm
• Introduction to Boating - Introduces novice
boaters to safe practices in preparing to leave the dock, while underway, and when returning to
• Basic Outboard - At the completion of the
Basic Outboard Standard you should be able to operate safely in familiar waters as skipper of a boat
under 6 metres and powered by an outboard engine under 55 kW (75 hp).
• Basic Powerboat - At the completion of the Basic
Power boat Standard you should be able to operate safely in local waters as skipper of a boat over 6
metres and powered by an engine over 55 kW (75 hp).
• Intermediate Powerboat - At the completion
of the Intermediate Powerboat Standard you should be able to operate safely as a skipper of a power boat
between 8 - 12 metres with inboard engine(s) by day in moderate wind and sea conditions.
• Coastal Navigation - A home-study hard copy
course giving you the benefit of learning in your home environment. Successful completion of the course
leads to Canadian Yachting Association Coastal Navigation certification.
CRUISING SAILBOAT COURSES - http://www.cruising.bc.ca/ltc.html
• Basic Crew - At the completion of the Basic
Crew Standard you should be able to act as competent crew while cruising safely in familiar waters aboard
a sloop rigged keel boat of 6 - 10 metres in moderate wind and sea conditions by day.
• Basic Cruising - At the completion of the
Basic Cruising Standard you should be able to cruise safely in familiar waters as both skipper and crew
of a sloop rigged keel boat of 6 to 10 meters in moderate wind and sea conditions by day.
• Intermediate Cruising - At the completion
of the Intermediate Cruising Standard you should be able to cruise safely in familiar waters as both
skipper and crew of a sailing boat of 8 - 12 meters in moderate wind and sea conditions by day. Emphasizes on-the-water skills at a level
acceptable for bare boat chartering.
• Advanced Cruising - At the completion of
the Advanced Cruising Standard you should be able to act safely as skipper and crew of a sailing boat of
8 - 15 metres, operating by day and night in coastal or inland water in any
To order the Radio Course http://www.cruising.bc.ca/vhf.htm
Symbols, Abbreviations, Terms Chart 1 http://www.charts.gc.ca/publications/chart1-carte1/index-eng.asp
The Contraventions Regulations
Transport Canada Safe Boating
Boating Blog - https://www.cruising.bc.ca/blog/
Navigation Introduction - http://www.cruising.bc.ca/coastnav.html
Boating Information - http://www.cruising.bc.ca/
Cold Water Boot Camp
E-Lessons – Types of Boats, Anchoring http://www.cruising.bc.ca/e-lessons.html
Boating ebooks - http://www.cruising.bc.ca/ebooks.html