Make your next holiday an educational adventure with your friends and family on one of our Custom Courses. Whether you wish to learn to sail or handle a power boat, we offer custom courses for individuals, couples or families at all levels that we teach. Simply select your charter boat and we will plan the cruise to suit you!
Designed around your needs, your schedule, and your group – custom courses allow more time for fun and focused time with an instructor.
Learn with friends and family while sailing around the Gulf Islands. Enjoy the beautiful sceneries and local wildlife, while earning your desired certifications!
Learn at your own pace, surrounded by the people you love, and get more practice with instructors dedicated to helping you succeed.
Your next step, select your favorite boats from our fleet and email us at email@example.com to create a course that is best for you.
Ian MacPherson‘s life at sea, as a worldwide yacht delivery skipper and the manager of one of the largest charter companies in the world, began when he as a boy. While still in his 20’s, he launched ‘Baraka’, a 40′ Endurance Ketch he built in Durban, and set sail with his wife Shari for a ten-year world cruising adventure they shared with their four young daughters. Over the course of his career, Ian managed charter operations in the Caribbean, Greece, the Eastern Mediterranean, and now British Columbia – expertise he shares with every client and yacht charter owner at Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School. He rates B.C. as one of the finest cruising grounds in the world. He shares his offshore sailing and Celestial Navigation expertise annually during our Fall Circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.
Andy Den Otter is one of our most passionate, fun, and enthusiastic instructional skippers. Many students appreciate his calm demeanor while instructing, docking in tight marinas, setting in challenging anchorages, and handling exciting sea conditions. Andy is a skilled monohull and catamaran sailing skipper and instructor. He teaches introductory courses up to Yachtmaster Offshore and Ocean plus Celestial Navigation. Andy has sailed everything from windsurfers up to 55 foot ocean cruisers on the Caribbean, Pacific, Mediterranean, and Atlantic for the last 30+ years. He truly appreciates the varied cruising grounds along the beautiful British Columbian coastline. Often chartering with friends and family, Andy loves introducing new sailors to the excitement and energy of the sea.
Marla Hedman grew up on the lakes surrounding Hudson’s Bay and has been boating her entire life. Marla teaches and charters monohull and catamaran sailboats throughout the world. Over the course of her more than 20 years of teaching experience, she formed a tribe of sailors who follow her on flotilla sailing events to Turkey, Croatia, Sardinia, Corsica, the British Virginia Islands, and the Sea of Cortez. Marla’s focus on creating a happy and safe “conscientious skipper” for students at all experience levels on monohulls and catamarans of all sizes.
Dave Martin has sailed thousands of Ocean miles and is an experienced power yacht Instructor. Dave holds a Yachtmaster Sail Instructor Evaluator Ocean and Coastal Skipper Power designation. He is the Instructor Coordinator for the Canadian Recreational Yachting Association and has trained numerous instructors in both sail and power categories. Dave has taught courses for Nanaimo Yacht Charters since 2002. Whether you are wanting to learn to sail, operate a powerboat, master Coastal Navigation or practice Celestial Navigation, Dave can meet every requirement. He creates a safe, comfortable, and skill-testing environment for his students to practice practical skills and learn the essential theory required to skipper a vessel.
Henry Tkachyk has cruised the West Coast for over 20 years in sail and powerboats. He has extensive knowledge of the West Coast and can take you from the most secluded bays and beaches of Desolation Sound to the busy and warm waters of the Gulf Islands. Henry embraces sailing as a lifestyle, approaching his instruction as a balance between learning and cruising – focusing on the enjoyment and lifestyle of cruising along with everything needed to skipper safely and effectively. Originally from Alberta, Henry has always been the happiest on the water – racing, sailing, fishing, and cruising with family and friends. As a resident of Nanaimo, his local knowledge will help you plan a sailing adventure that will be remembered for a lifetime. Henry is available as an instructor on monohulls, catamarans, and powerboats, providing instruction for certification as well as learning vacations for families and friends. Meet Henry on this Eventureblog interview.
Jack Dale is a seasoned instructional skipper acquiring over 50,000 miles of coastal and blue-water sailing since he began cruising the Salish Sea in 1984. As a delivery skipper, his passages include an Atlantic Crossing from Cape Town to Brazil, Victoria to Maui, the BVIs to Panama, the Northern Atlantic, and Southern England. Jack’s avid racing activities include many Swiftsure Races, the Van Isle 360 and Galveston Bay. Jack is a qualified CRYA Yachtmaster Ocean Instructor Evaluator, a CRYA Coastal Power Instructor Evaluator and an IYT Yachtmaster Coastal Sail, Catamaran and Power Instructor. He is also an Instructor and Registered Examiner for marine VHF.
Mike Nyakas grew up on the ocean in Prince Rupert, commercial fished as a youth, and spent his adult career in the hospitality industry and Corporate Sales. Mike believes the best environment for learning is allowing nature and the sailboat to present the best platform in a relaxed way while enjoying all aspects of the cruising lifestyle… after all, someone has to snorkel, paddleboard and visit these amazing anchorages. He has taught and sailed in many of the world’s most popular sailing grounds: Greece, Thailand, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, San Fransico, USA, and Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Mike holds a Transport Canada SVOP Captains license, Commercial Helicopter License, alongside sailing instructor credentials with CRYA, IYT, Sail Canada, ISPA, and ASA.
Edith Eaton appreciates every day at sea and loves sharing her passion for sailing. Her broad cruising experience, including the Bay of Fundy, Broughton Archipelago, Desolation Sound, Barkley Sound, the Sunshine Coast, the Puget Sound, Puerto Montt, Chile, Laguna San Raphael, and Patagonia. She has raised two keen sailors and promotes family and women’s sailing. Edith is the head instructor and program manager for Royal Canadian Navy RCN SAIL program – bringing 40 years of teaching experience to students seeking to learn to cruise and race. She is certified as a Yachtmaster Instructor with CRYA, ISPA and IYT who regularly coaches for the Van Isle 360 and Swiftsure races, bringing an unparalleled depth of expertise to her instruction.
Andre Joniec has been sailing for over 10 years on Canada’s west coast. In 2019 he and his wife Naomi and their two kids, Jasper and Mia circumnavigated Central America on their 1985 Stevens 47, DeNovo. He has experience chartering in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. He loves to share his passion for adventure and exploring our stunning west coast and especially enjoys taking out newcomers to the sport. He is a CRYA and IYT instructor and is certified to teach up to the Coastal skipper level including Coastal Navigation
Mark Winfield teaches recreational sailing and power boating up to the Coastal Skipper level and is a coxswain/instructor with RCM-SAR here on Vancouver Island where he trains marine rescue crew up to the coxswain level year-round. He has extensive experience in the waters around the UK and France as well as the Mediterranean, Caribbean and west coast of Canada/USA. And he has owned a range of power and sail boats and is happy to be on the water, whether racing, cruising, skippering or instructing.
Phil Foster has a lifetime of experience sailing. He learned to sail on the North Sea, and has sailed throughout Europe, in the Baltic, the North Sea, the BVI’s, Croatia. He has extensive experience throughout British Columbia’s beautiful waters and wild areas – including as a unit leader for RCMP-SAR and as the current Education Director at Westcoast Adventure College, which focuses on training adventure tourism guides. Phil is a delivery captain, radio examiner, and instructor of both power boats and sailing on monohulls and catamarans – from beginner to instructor level courses.
Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School is privately owned and unaffiliated other charter companies.
How do I prepare for my course? How do I earn my certification? Each governing body is a little different in their process! The CRYA and ISPA teaches their theory through workbooks that you complete prior to your arrival. Once you have passed the course, you will receive a CRYA or ISPA logbook with your certifications within them. Most of the IYT theory materials are available online, but when applicable we will send you the relevant course materials. For your IYT course, you will take a physical written test. Upon the successful completion of your course and exam, IYT will mail you your card. Processing time varies and can take several weeks. If you have not received your card, let us know and we will get in contact with them.
What do I do during the preboard? Decompress, settle in, and get to know your boat so that you can wake up ready to go first thing in the morning. Familiarize yourself the galley & cooking supplies. If you are on a group course, get to know your fellow students! They’re the people you’ll be learning alongside. If you’re on a Custom Cruise & Learn, then use this time to get yourself all set up prior to the arrival of your instructor.
Can I arrive after business hours? Yes. You will be provided with information about where you can find your keys if you are planning to arrive after-hours. Please indicate on your Student Participation Form your arrival time.
Who is my instructor and when will I meet them? You will meet your instructors on the first day of the course. If you have any questions about your course or materials, please feel free to contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens when the course is over? Upon completion of your course, you are expected to remove all food and trash, bag your linens (in the provided bags), and give the boat a wipe down. Good seamanship means returning your boat in ship-shape. Plan your return flights and ferries with these tasks in mind.
ROUTE PLANNING MATERIALS
WEATHER & SPECIAL HAZARDS
PACKING & SUCH
Packing List Ideas We ask that you bring a soft sided duffle bag rather than a hard suitcase. These are easier to store on the vessel.
Provisioning & Meal Plan Ideas For Custom Cruise & Learns, you can have your groceries delivered right to the docks! We’ll help you load them when they arrive.