Gulf Islands Cruise & Learn - Courses & Mileage Builder

As a sailing destination, there are few places in the world that match the beauty of British Columbia's majestic mountains, quiet coves, friendly ports, pristine Provincial Marine Parks and the abundance of coastal sealife. 

gulf islands map

Since 2004, our Gulf Islands Cruising & Learn adventures have prepared our students with sailing knowledge, seamanship and boat-handling skills required to become competent, confident and responsible Skippers and Crew.

Gulf Islands Cruising


Each day following a healthy breakfast prepared by the crew, your instructor leads you through:

  • the morning Gulf Islands sailing lesson focused on seamanship and the Skippers duties
  • Prepare and file our Sail Plan- "Safety is First"
  • 2-3 hour late morning sail led by Student Skipper and Student Navigator
  • lunch afloat often hove-to for a BBQ in a quiet cove- review of seamanship lessons learned that morning
  • 2-3 hour afternoon sail, passage completing the days Sail Plan
  • late afternoon anchoring, mooring or docking lesson - review of Skippers lessons learned
  • yacht and dinghy maintenance focused on rigging and equipment
  • preparation of the Sail Plan by Acting Skipper and Navigator for next day
  • Course knowledge, seamanship and boat-handling skills objectives are posted for next day

North Gulf Islands

Day 1 - Vancouver - morning orientation and lesson, English Bay, lunch Hove-to Howe Sound and dock at Snug Cove Bowen Island- dinner at Bowen Island Pub

Day 2 - Passage around Bowen Island and Collingwood Channel to Plumper Cove Marine Park anchorage (Gibsons)- dinner at Molly's Reach or Smitty's Seafood

Day 3 - Passage along Sunshine Coast to Smugglers Cove Provincial Marine Park anchorage- dinner Chicken BBQ, Caesar Salad, Nanaimo Bars

Day 4 - Passage to Pender Harbor and Garden Bay Provincial Marine Park - dinner and entertainment Garden Bay/ Grasshopper PUB

Day 5 - Passage to Jedediah Island Provincial Marine Park- dinner BBQ

Day 6 - Passage Thormanby Island, Half Moon Bay to Port Graves, Gambier Island - dinner Salmon feast anchored at Secret Cove

Day 7 - Bareboat Charter Master Check-out, Gambier Island, Bowen Island, Point Atkinson, West Vancouver and False Creek docking before 4 pm

South Gulf Islands

Day 1 - Vancouver orientation and preliminaries English Bay, Straits of Georgia, Gabriola Passage, anchoring Pirates Cove- dinner BBQ.

Day 2 - Trincomalli Channel, mooring at Montegue Provincial Marine Park Marine Park, Galiano Island- dinner at Hummingbird PUB.

Day 3 - Prevost Island circumnavigation, Captains Passage, docking Ganges, Saltspring Island- dinner and entertainment Treehouse Cafe.

Day 4 - Half-day Gulf Islands sailing lesson on Captains Passage- back to Ganges for a bike and music at the Tree House Cafe or the Oyster Catcher Restaurant.

Day 5 - Navy Passage, Port Browning and Bedwell Bay, Pender Island- swimming pool and dinner Poets Cove Resort.

Day 6 - Satellite Channel, Sansun Narrows, Saltspring Island and Mill Bay- dinner Mill Bay PUB.

Day 7 - Bareboat Charter Master Check-out, Porlier Pass, Point Grey, English Bay, and False Creek docking before 4pm.

2018 Cruise & Learn Dates:

  • March 23-26 (Nanaimo - Saltspring Island) FULL
  • April 16-20 (Vancouver - Sidney)
  • April 22-26 (Sidney - Vancouver)
  • May 13-18 (Vancouver - Saltspring Island)
  • May 21-25 (Saltspring Island - Victoria)
  • May 27-June 1 (Victoria - Vancouver)
  • June 9-15 (Vancouver - Sidney) FULL
  • June 16-22 (Sidney -Vancouver) 1 spot left
  • June 23-29 (Sidney - Vancouver) 2 spots left
  • July 28-August 2 Private FULL
  • September 15-21 (Vancouver - Pender Harbor)
  • Sept 22- 28 (Pender Harbor - Vancouver) FULL
  • October 20-26 (Vancouver - Saltspring Island)

2019 Cruise & Learn Dates:

  • March 26-29 (Nanaimo - Saltspring Island)
  • April 14-18 (Vancouver- Sidney)
  • April 22-26 (Sidney-Vancouver)
  • May 12-16 (Vancouver - Saltspring Island)
  • May 19-24 (Saltspring Island - Victoria)
  • May 27-31 (Victoria - Vancouver)
  • June 9-15 (Vancouver - Sidney)
  • June 16-22 (Sidney - Vancouver)
  • June 23-29 (Sidney - Vancouver)
  • September 15-21 (Vancouver - Pender Harbor)
  • Sept 22 - 28 (Pender Harbor - Vancouver)
  • October 20-26 (Vancouver - Saltspring Island)


Gulf Islands Sailing

VSC Cruise & Learn includes:

  • NauticEd cloud-based LOG Book and Sailing Resume

  • Mediterranean Anchoring and Mooring Endorsement 

  • All aboard meals are supplied by the VSC Bosun and prepared by the student crew, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are included

  • Fresh linens/ sleeping bags, towels and facecloths

  •  Use of CCG Type 5 inflatable Personal Flotation Device ( life jackets), tether and harness

  • Personal preparation for what to wear, bring with you and study by your Cruise & Learn Instructor here at our Vancouver sailing school.

  • Use of 2 Kayaks and 8HP RIB Dinghy

  •  Fuel and moorage fees are included

Your Instructor:

Carl Richardson, Chief Instructor, Vancouver Sailing Club

Instructor Credentials- RYA Yachtmaster Cruising Instructor, RYA Professional Practices & Responsibilities, NauticEd  Captain Rank Instructor and SPC Examiner, CCG ROCM VHF Radio Instructor & Examiner, ASA206 Advanced Coastal Cruising and ASA214 Cruising Catamaran Instructor. 

Professional Sailing Certifications- RYA Yachtmaster Offshore (MCA), NauticEd  Captain Rank Level 5, ASA Advanced Coastal Cruising, Marine CPR AED First Aid, Industry Canada SVOP, IC Marine Emergencies ME3, ISAF (WorldSAILING) Safety at Sea.

"Sailing is all about the joy of harnessing the power of the wind, making friends in new places and discovering the world by-the-sea. With over 42,000 NM logged under sail and a full- time professional sailing Instructor for the past 14 years, I have had the privilege to assess, instruct, examine and certify more than 1650 students on cruising keelboats 24-52 feet and cruising catamarans 38-48 feet. My lesson plans use proven teaching methods that assist my students in acquiring  sailing knowledge, seamanship, operational vigilance and practical boat-handling skills for all conditions. My favourite C&L destinations are BC's West Coast , the Inside Passage including Howe Sound, Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands. I also enjoy Instructing Cruise & Learn adventures in Greece, British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Grenadines, Antigua and the Turks & Caicos Islands- 67 weeks in the past 12 years. My international cruising and racing plans for 2018 will take me to Shanghai China, the BVI, St Lucia and the Grenadines, Nova Scotia, Chicago, Texas and Toronto.

Student Testimonials

Enrolment Fees

$1875 per person for 7 days, $1375 pp for 5 days, $875 pp for 3 days- Military, Group and Private rates are available on request

Aboard one of our gulf island cruise and learn sailing adventures

"Sleek as ClaraALLEGRO is, it is not the boat; not the gorgeous waters; or that adventure that comes in hand, but that comfortable and confident attitude that comes with the skills you impart. Damn, that was fun. You will certainly see me again for the Advanced Coastal Cruising"

- Marc Hess, Fredericksburg, Texas, NauticEd Certified  Bareboat Chartering Master  



"One year ago I had to start from ZERO. A few weeks ago I sailed a 36 ft sailboat from Nanaimo to Vancouver in 20 knots of wind with "my" crew and me at the helm in a completely comfortable and safe way. An unforgettable feeling and I owe it all to Carl Richardson (VSC Instructor)."

-Wim Arits, VSC204 Bareboat Cruising Master and VSC504 Competent Keelboat Racing Crew Certified


In addition to our Gulf Islands sailing schedule of 5+ hours per day you are encouraged to take our RIB dinghy and to shore for seaside hiking, and snorkelling. We also have 2 kayaks for your use.


Our meals are designed to be healthy, delicious and light. Safe cooking aboard is taught in our galley complete with gas stove & oven, refrigerator-freezer and deck mounted barbecue:

  • Breakfast is continental with fresh fruit juices, cereals, muffins, tea and coffee

  • Lunch includes soup or salad and sandwiches with variety of teas, soft drinks or milk

  • For dinners we alternate between local PUBS/ Cafes or students assisting aboard in preparing barbecued fresh turkey, salmon, chicken, lamb or beef served with baby vegetables, pasta and salads. Desert is a locally sourced sweet surprise.

Sightseeing and Cruising the Gulf IslandsSleeping and Living Aboard

Each of the three private cabins include:

- hatch & fan ventilation

- forced air heat for spring and fall sessions.

- two (2) salon couches can also be used as berths

- fresh laundered color- coded sleeping bags, towels and face cloths

- non-allergenic soaps and body lotions are included

-  FILTERED  hot & cold pressurized water for sinks and shower to keep the crew comfortable


Our yacht we use when sailing the gulf islands

It is requested that your personal gear is stowed in one duffle or soft walled bag. Bring enough clothing for 4 days only as we will be stopping at full service marinas equipped with washing machines. We recommend that you bring your own personal care products in an easily stored kit. For recommendations on clothing to bring please see our RESOURCES  link.

"Carl was a fantastic (VSC) instructor for the entirety of my 7 days sailing with him. He made sure to allow me to put my skills to practice with minimal intervention, unless it was required. His instructional methods are very well developed and leaves a student with a great dealof confidence. He is very approachable, and entirely professional. I would recommend Carl for anyone who is interested in learning to sail, or those who simply want to improve their skills with an experienced sailor."

- LCdr. Derek Walter. Winnepeg, Manitoba, NauticED Certified Bareboat Charter Master

Gulf Islands Cruising

Learning to Sail at the Vancouver Sailing Club is rewarding:

  • CONFIDENT, RESPONSIBLE and PREPARED - our focus is developing your sailing knowledge, seamanship and boat-handling skills for personal competence and safety in the context of having F U N and A D V E N T U R E.
  • Progress at your own pace - each course includes a NauticEd eLearning pre-course study that can be completed anytime and anywhere where you have Internet access or an iPad or Android device- the on-the-water practical instruction and certification is provided by Vancouver Sailing Club's flexible year-round sailing schedule from our downtown Vancouver docks, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and new international cruising grounds.
  • RECOGNITION - Cruising Course Certifications and Coastal & Ocean Mileage Builders are respected qualifications for international Bareboat Chartering and Yacht Insurance Companies worldwide

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Upcoming Sailing Events

VSC101 Qualified Crew
October, 6 2018 8:30 am
October, 18 2018 9:00 am

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September, 29 2018 8:00 am
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Cruising Spotlight

October, 13 2018 9:00 am
October, 18 2018 9:00 am
October, 19 2018 6:00 pm

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