04 Apr

How to Buy a Boat or…

The Long, Sordid Tale of a Boy and a Boat

Part I

This tale rightfully begins in the spring of 2007, when on a whim I emailed Blue Pacific Yacht Charters and they said “Why yes, we will rent you a boat after a minimal amount of training.” I was flabbergasted and was immediately set on doing it. Zak, Leslie and I all requested our Competent Crew books from ISPA and Zak and I added the Day Skipper unit as well. We booked a boat (a Beneteau 393) for 8 days (4 with a skipper and 4 solo) and started studying. You can read about the adventure on my other blog.


The net result however, was while we enjoyed the trip, we received no certifications and had a bittersweet taste left in our (my) mouths. The idea of sailing was shelved. The idea of boating was not.

Boats overseas

Our next few holidays were in Europe on canal boats in France’s extensive canal system. It was a wonderful lifestyle and we thoroughly enjoyed each and every trip. Burgundy 2008, Bordeaux 2009 and Alsace Lorraine 2012. The only drawbacks was the cost of travel and hotels before and after each trip.


Somewhere during our last trip it occurred to me that the lifestyle we were enjoying (leisurely short hops from town to town in our floating hotel room) was not substantially different (minus the copious amounts of French wine) from cruising on BC’s coast. And the flights were much much cheaper. I vowed to look into it when we got back.

Power or Sail

So in 2013, for my 50th birthday, Leslie and I booked a week-long cruise and learn with Nanaimo Yacht Charters. I chose them because their rates were overall a bit lower, their services higher and they had a Power Cruise and Learn package that combined Competent Crew and Day Skipper. I also added the Coastal Navigation course to the mix. In the weeks leading up to the trip I (we) went through all three workbooks and took my PCOC online from the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons (whom I highly recommend).

We spent a week aboard a Bayliner 3288 with instructor Tim Melville in the last week of April, learning the ins and outs of power boating and the Gulf Islands in spring. As I had thought, it had a lot in common with cruising the French canals but, obviously, it was a completely different experience with a whole new set of joys and worries. I enjoyed it thoroughly and it brought any idea of an easy choice between sailing vs powerboating into question.


In July we went back, this time with C. I had again booked Tim to take us on a week-long cruise and learn, this time sailing aboard a Dufour 38. And when that was done we would switch boats onto a Bayliner 3888, for a nice leisurely week to ourselves exploring the Gulf Islands. It was a hectic first week with so many new systems to learn but we each walked away with a ton of new knowledge. And the after cruise was just a lot of fun, complete with great food, winery visits and shopping in great little towns.

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And when we got back to Nanaimo and I filled the 3888 up, the $550+ fuel bill finally convinced me I wanted to be a sailor.

Boat Show Fun

In January 2014, Leslie and I went to the Vancouver Boat Show. I had no intention of buying a boat but I definitely wanted crawl through some more and thought it would be a nice break. We had also been looking at property on Gabriola Island so it was a chance to go over there and tour some of the properties we had our eye on.

All in all the trip confirmed that we were not potential boat owners. We just didn’t have enough time to spend boating and, financially, we were better off chartering. But we saw a lot of great boats and talked to a bunch of brokers. All in all we learned a lot.

The biggest thing we  encountered though, was the information that Cooper Boating was holding a flotilla to the Broughtons. This archipelago off the north part of Vancouver Island was separated from our normal cruising grounds by rapids and narrow passages and was not likely to be on my list of places to explore for many, many years. So the opportunity to have our hands held while we got to explore some spectacular cruising grounds was irresistible. As soon as we got home we booked the trip.

Flotilla Fun

We chose to charter a smaller boat and the only one available was in Vancouver; the flotilla was starting from Powell River. Cooper offered me a free day on each end to move the boat up and back myself, but after soliciting advice on a few boating forums, I realized that not only would it be a stressful trip, but I was also doing Cooper a favour and saving them the cost of a delivery skipper. So I declined.

A little later L and I talked it over and decided that we would take the boat up, but we would leave a week earlier and give ourselves a chance to settle in and review everything we had learned the previous year. It was an awesomely good choice and we got some great sailing in without having to worry about schedules.

And so mid-June, we set off for three weeks of sailing fun on the Shearwater, a Bavaria 33. It was everything we had hoped for, full of beautiful scenery, some great sailing and dolphins. And we met some great people, most especially Dave and Margaret off of R Shack Island.


Can’t Get Enough

I had wanted C to come on the flotilla, but she just couldn’t swing it. So when we got back, I immediately started planning another trip. R Shack had invited us to buddy boat with them later in the summer and so we worked through the logistics, booked a 40′ Beneteau from  Nanaimo Yacht Charters and were soon off for 2 more weeks of cruising.

This time we headed up to Desolation Sound and hit all the hotspots under the guidance of the more experienced R Shack crew.


So after over 5 weeks on the water we had finally got comfortable with anchoring and sailing and remained only mildly terrified every time we had to bring the boat to the the dock. And I, for one, was totally addicted.

But it still didn’t make sense to buy a boat.

To be continued…

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