Vancouver Island Yacht Charters

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Learn to Sail with us!

Course ScheduleSailing CoursesSailing InstructorsStudent FAQ

Course Schedule 

Spring 2022


March 28 – April 2 (preboard March 27) Basic & Intermediate – Power (1-Spot left)

April 22 – 29 (preboard April 21)  Crew & Helm – Sail (SOLD – Waitlist)

April 22 – 29 (preboard April 21) Coastal Skipper – Sail (1-Spots left)

April 23 – 27 (preboard April 22) Basic & Intermediate – Power (1-Spot left)

May 13 – 27 (preboard May 12)  Around Vancouver Island – Sail   

May 16 – 22 (preboard May 15) Catamaran Sailing Course (2-Spots left)

May 24 – 30 (preboard May 23) Catamaran Sailing Course (SOLD – Waitlist)


Fall 2022


Sept. 23 – Oct. 7 (preboard Sept. 22)  Around Vancouver Island – Sail




September/October tbd – Crew & Helm – Sail  (6 spots available)

September/October tbd  – Coastal Skipper – Sail  (4 spots available)

September/October tbd – Basic & Intermediate – Power (4 spots available)






*Dates subject to change based on availability, enrollment, and applicable restrictions.



Custom Courses  

If our group course dates don’t fit your schedule, or you would like to learn in the company of friends and family, a custom course may be the best choice for you.

Designed around your needs, your schedule, and your group – custom courses allow more time for fun and focused time with an instructor.

To learn more, select your favorite boats from our fleet and email us at to create a course that is best for you.



Our unique combination of certification programs focuses on you.

Your experience.  Your goals.  Your learning style.


Competent Crew & Helm

Perfect as a refresher or people just gaining their sea legs.

Basic/Competent Crew Boating Courses

All Basic Sailing Courses

Day, Flotilla & Bareboat Skipper

Learn to bareboat charter or improve your confidence as a skipper.

All Intermediate Sailing Courses


Advanced Sailing Courses

Meet new challenges, advance your skills, or circumnavigate Vancouver Island.

Advanced Sailing Courses

All Advanced Sailing Courses


Specialist Courses

Create a custom course on the boat of your choosing or learn special skills.















Student Testimonials


Meet Our Instructional Skippers



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


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


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.  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 also regularly coaches for the Van Isle 360 and Swiftsure races, brings 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




Tracy Sarich sails extensively throughout Puget Sound and the Southern Coast of British Columbia, including the West Coast of Vancouver Island on her own cutter sloop.  Her nearly 20 years of sailing experience includes offshore boat deliveries between San Francisco and Seattle, the Baja California Peninsula, and South Florida.  Tracy’s teaching focuses on advancing women in the sport and leadership development for building strong teams and confident, capable skippers. You are sure to have a fantastic, fun and meaningful sailing adventure aboard.





Beth MacPherson spent the first five years of her life living aboard the family sailboat, 42′ Endurance Ketch in St. Maarten and has been hooked on sailing ever since.  She and her partner, Jared, an ABYC marine mechanic, enjoy sailing the BC waters year-round aboard their Catalina 27, ‘Barakette’ – aptly named after the family boat ‘Baraka’, which means “In the most improbable circumstances, it is the great gift of enhancing life and making your surroundings better than they were before.”  In 2007, Beth took her first accredited Women’s Sailing course through ISPA at NYCSS and has since completed courses up to Yachtmaster Offshore.  Her extensive experience includes three circumnavigations of Vancouver Island, charters of monohulls and catamarans throughout the west coast and Caribbean and throughout the West Coast of BC.  Beth has sailed with families, couples and groups of all ages, believing that you are never too young or too old to learn to safely set sail aboard your own boat.




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.





Whether you need sea miles, a refresher wish to transition to a new or larger boat, seek preparation to go offshore, or take the first step in your sail and power boating journey

– we can take you there.




Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School is privately owned and unaffiliated other charter companies.

Required Forms for All Sailing School Students 

  1. Student Participation Form   
  2. Student Waiver – check your email and sign
  3. COVID Wellness Form – please complete 24 hours before arrival


Sailing School FAQ


How do I prepare for my course?  How do I earn my certification?  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.  IYT theory materials arrive via an email from us or as an online module.  While on board, you will take a written test.  Upon the successful completion of your course, IYT will mail you your card, processing time varies and can take several weeks. 

What do I do during the preboard?  Decompress, settle in, and get to know your boat and fellow students so that you can wake up ready to go first thing in the morning. Provisions on board – these are for your group on Day 1.  Please stow these and familiarize yourself the galley, cooking supplies, and proposed menu.   

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

What boat will I be on for my group course?  Once we have assigned your boat, we will send you an email with a link to a vessel folder that contains manuals, videos, and other helpful materials to prepare you before your arrival.  

Am I sharing a cabin?  You will have your own cabin unless you bring someone who you wish to share with.  If you sign up with two people sharing a cabin, the second person enjoys a 50% discount on the course cost.

What happens when the course is over?  To complete your course, you are expected to remove all food and trash, remove your linens (placed in your pillowcase and delivered to our laundry bin at the top of the ramp), 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.

What will we eat?   Below you will find meal plans and provisioning lists.  Group courses have all meals included.  You will indicate your food allergies/sensitivities on your Student Participation Form.  Feel free to bring special snacks or food items.

Must I be vaccinated against COVID-19?  Yes.  Per B.C. health orders, our courses – group and private – require all participants, including skippers, to provide proof of complete vaccination 14-days prior to arrival.  You must also complete our COVID Wellness Form


Helpful Links



Chart 1 Symbols & Terms for Charts

How to Share Navionics Files



Vol. 5: Straits of Juan de Fuca & Georgia

Vol. 6: Discovery Passage/West Coast Van. Isle

Vol. 7: Queen Charlotte Sound/Dixon Entrance



Restricted Whale Zones             

Notice of Hazardous Area – Whiskey Golf

Marine Weather Reports for Pacific South Coast        Marine Weather Guide (Full Text)



Getting Here: By Air, Car, & Foot

Yacht Inventory

Packing List Ideas  Please use a soft-sided duffle type bag.   No rolling suitcases please.  



Provisioning & Meal Plan Ideas   Group Course Participants: Meals are included, these menus are examples of what you may find aboard.  Private Course Participants: Use these lists to help shop and meal plan. Online grocery delivery can be delivered to our docks – scheduled for when you are on site.   

Seasickness: If this is your first time aboard a boat and you are concerned about seasickness, this link provides some helpful advice.  Remain well-hydrated, eat small meals throughout the day, take the helm and stay on deck – there are many ways to settle your stomach (and nerves).  Your instructor can provide you with more tips.  If you are taking any seasickness medication, please let your skipper know.



Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School Ltd
1690 Stewart Ave Nanaimo BC BC Canada V9S 4E1
1-250-754-8601 / 1-877-754-8601 Start Price 1000 CAD
Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School Ltd
1690 Stewart Ave Nanaimo BC BC Canada V9S 4E1
1-250-754-8601 / 1-877-754-8601

Nanaimo Yacht Charters & Sailing School Ltd.
1690 Stewart Ave Nanaimo BC, Canada V9S 4E1

© 2007-2022 Nanaimo Yacht Charters.

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Setting Sail in 2022

We look forward to welcoming everyone this year whilst maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone who visits our facilities.  Social distancing, mask wearing, vigorous cleaning protocols, and other measures will continue this year to ensure the health and safety of our guests and staff.

For information about COVID-19 testing and/or travel related issues, please consult official government guidance for up to date information.