Carl Richardson

Carl Richardson

Fun, active, stimulating and relaxing all at the same time . . .

A man on a sailing boat
A sailing trip is a fun way to stay active during your summer holidays Photo: © Buz Talley

 If you thought that sailing holidays were only for families with salt water running in their veins, it's time to broaden your horizons.

Sailing is a "brilliant", healthy and affordable way of spending your summer holidays in BC's pristine coastal wilderness or exploring a Caribbean tropical paradise on a well needed winter break.

Sailors will tell you it is safe, physical, mentally stimulating and relaxing ... all at the same time! It's also a great activity to meet new friends and see a familiar place (like Vancouver Island) from a different perspective.

In these days of busy individuals, in busy families, in busy communities, we need to slow down for a week or two and turn our collective attention to the excitement, peace and tranquility offered by the ocean and wind. 

You can’t however, just turn up and sail a yacht without personal preparation and experience. You’re going to need to invest some time and money learning how to do it. Don't worry, most will say it's one of the very best investments you are likely to make in your lifetime! Most new sailors agree there is something so . . . "wicked" about walking away with Skipper qualifications after enjoying the wind, sand and sea on a luxury sailboat on a 7-day Cruise & Learn in paradise.

If you aim to skipper your own boat, most bareboat charter companies will ask for a “Day Skipper” certification as qualifications for the more sheltered destinations like the British Virgin Islands or BC's Gulf Islands.

"Bareboat Charter Master" certification is qualifications for sailing in more remote destinations that require more experience like the Carribbean's Grenadines and BC's Desolation Sound. Twenty days on-the-water experience aboard a similar sized sailboat as skipper or crew are also required by the major charter companies like Dream Charters, Sunsail and MOORINGS. 

In Canada and the US you are required to pass the Pleasure Craft Operators Card and the VHF Radio Restricted Operators Certificate (known as ROCM) and to have this documentation with you when you are the skipper of a boat.


If your plans are to visit the Mediterranean and countries in the European Union (EU) you will require a International Certificate of Competence (ICC) through the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

One option is to learn to sail before you go on holiday is on weekends.  When you choose this route, your first port of call if you live in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta or British Columbia should be the Vancouver Sailing Club (VSC) based on FalseCreek in downtown Vancouver.

VSC students and Members will tell you that it is an excellent sailing school offering sailing courses, casual cruising, adventure sailing/ mileage builders, racing and rental sailboats.

ed Mileage Builders)

VSC Instructors recommend 3 steps, or foundation courses, for newbee sailors:

  1. Qualified Crew-  2-Day weekend or the first part of a 7- day Cruise & Learn in Gulf Islands or Desolation Sound
  2. Day Skipper-  3-Day long weekend or part of a 7- day Cruise & Learn in Gulf Islands or Desolation Sound
  3. Bareboat Charter Master- 3-Day long weekend or part of a 7- Day Cruise & Learn in Gulf Islands or Desolation Sound

Following completion of the Day Skipper course, you can charter  popular J/24 and Beneteau First 36.7 sailboats at VSC's reasonable rates.

If you have never been on the water and would like to try sailing instead of signing up for a course, VSC will recommend a 1-day Introduction to Sailing that will provide a fun day of discovery aboard one of their 36 foot cruisers in English Bay. Don't forget to bring your lunch. You will stop in in the middle of the 'Bay - surrounded by the mountains, harbor seals, Dalls Porpoise and if you are lucky killer or gray whales. This is usually a WOW moment for future sailors.

If BC's winter is too cold for you these same courses are offered in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean in December and March as Cruise & Learn Adventures. VSC also has been known to Cruise & Learn in the Grenadines and Antigua. It's best to VSC's website calendar for dates and details.

If you are unable to own a boat joining a Sailing Club is a flexible and inexpensive way to get out on the water and meet people that enjoy sailing- people just like you!

So don't procastinate. Launch the beginning of your sailing lifestyle this year today.


Cheers mates!

As a metaphor for managing a business, yacht racing can be very helpful. Both share common, fundamental elements: a team of people using speed, tactics, strategy, timing and multiple resources to reach a destination and achieve a goal while facing a fleet of opponents.

Yacht racing is different from all other types of racing because each of the boats in the race sails a unique course. The race—whether it is a Wednesday night beer can race, a multi-day regatta or a race across an ocean—has a defined beginning and end, but in between, each boat can sail a widely different route and distance. A business may have a defined beginning and a goal, but its race is on-going and often over multiple racecourses simultaneously.

The environment that each operates in is constantly changing—the physical environment of wind, waves and weather; the competitive environment; and the economic and regulatory environment. Both the business owner and boat skipper must exercise choice and control over some elements and adjust to those elements over which they have no control. Good business managers, like good sailors anticipate when conditions are about to change. The skipper best able to anticipate changing conditions and effectively adjust for them is the one that comes out ahead.

Company and crew each have to develop a short-term strategy for each individual race, a medium-term strategy for a weekend regatta, and a long-term strategy for the entire season of racing. Without a clearly articulated strategy, a boat or business merely reacts to whatever comes along.

Businesses and race boats also require leadership, teamwork and rapid decision-making to be successful. Innovative problem-solving, clear goals and effective communications are also necessary.

Speed alone will not win the race if the wrong strategic choice is made, or if the boat or business sails in the wrong direction. And perfect strategy and tactics cannot overcome slow speed. Winning requires a mastery of all these elements: preparation, strategy, boat handling, speed and tactics.

Try to answer this coastal navigation question (answer at end):

At 1035 your GPS indicated a position of LAT 41° 05.3’N and LONG 72° 33.7′ W. At 1103 your GPS indicates your position to be LAT 41°09.0′ N and LONG 72° 40.0’W. What was your SOG and COG?

Here is the excerpt of the chart that you will need

Answer: Posted below. But give it a go yourself first – really!

Consider taking the NauticEd online Coastal Navigation Course


See chart plot here

From the plot, the distance is 6nm.

Time is calculated by realizing that 1103 = 1063. Thus:

– 1035
0028 minutes

28 minutes is 28/60 hours = 0.467 hours

SOG (Speed Over Ground) = 6nm/.467 hours = 12.85 nm/hr (knots)

From the plot, and overlaying a Bretton plotter compass dial, the COG (Course Over Ground)  is 307.5 deg T

Boom Done!

SOG and COG example

SOG and COG example


VSC offers intermediate level sailors our VSC504 Competent Keelboat Racing program for building the foundation of racing knowledge, seamanship and boat handling skills for racing keelboats 24 - 45 ft. This course includes 5 on-the- water skill building seminars and participation as crew in 5 Vancouver area races that demonstrate:

  • How a race is conducted
  • How to prepare a sailboat for racing
  • The duties and skills of the 7 sailing positions
  • The Racing Rulesof Sailing and differences to the cruiser's Rules of the Road (COLREGS)
  • Rig fundamentals and the effect of tuning on performance
  • Advanced sail handling and sail trim for Jib, Genoa, Mainsail, Spinnaker and Drifter
  • Sail trim for light air, moderate and heavy weather conditions
  • Strategies and Tactics for coastal long distance and regatta racing

VSC504 Practice and Race Dates 2017

Racing is fun, challenging and rewarding. Confidence on-the-water is the result of competence and understanding crew leadership and dynamics.
The prerequisite for this course is VSC101 Qualified Crew Certification. Call Carl Richardson (604) 805-9944 if you would like to learn more or enrol in the VSC504 program.

Our 2015 sailing adventures reflect on what we accomplished last year: 

      • Vancouver Sailing Club and Vancouver Sailing School (VSC) continues it's safety record of 0 (zero) incidents in the first 11 years of our formation which is brilliant- our "Safety is First"  learn-to-sail & cruise instructional program and racing program motto continues to make us arguably the safest Sailing Club in Vancouver
      • ClaraALLEGRO raced in 11 Distance races over 50 NM with 34 crew experiencing the fast lane
      • Josephine and Napoleon raced in over 28 regatta races with 17 students
      • During the Southern Straits Classic Race on April 3-5, the VSC Racing Team rescued a man overboard (MOB) after a gust reaching a wind-speed of 28 knots knocked down a 30 ft yacht south of Bowen Island-  the Race Committee Chairman of the West Vancouver Yacht Club called to thank us and commented that our racing team showed great seamanship in heavy weather providing a fast recovery to save the life of a visiting sailor from Seattle. 
      • ClaraALLEGRO our Beneteau First 36.7 logged the following whale counts during our cruise and race programs- 11 Gray, 4 Humpbacks, 2 Fin, 34 Orcas, 3 unidentfied- this is the largest number of whale sightings on record at the VSC
      • Our Students and Members chartered 16 times from Vancouver and other international sailing destinations including Antigua, Lake Como & Genoa Italy, Croatia, BVI, Australia, San Juan Islands WA and Georgian Bay ON
      • 91 VSC guests, 42 MemberslaraALEGROand 79 Students cruised a total of 212 days locally in English Bay, Desolation Sound, Gulf Islands and the Sechelt Inlet
      • 19 Introduction to Sailing, 12 Qualified Crew, 8 Day Skipper, 8 Bareboat Chartering Master, 4 Cruising Catamaran, 3 Advanced Coastal Cruising courses were held on weekends and Cruise & Learn adventures 
      • 17 Students and Members sailed in the British Virgin Islands on our Cruise & Learn in Paradise sessions in February and December
      • 4 of our Students are cruising around the world at this time 
      • We celebrated our 3rd year as NauticEd's most successful Sailing School - for 2 years running we have had the highest (5 Star) Sailing Instructor rating by NauticEd students completing Certifications for Qualified Crew, Day Skipper, Bareboat Charter Master and Advanced Coastal Cruising Captain learn-to-sail programs 

V S C   M i s s i o n   f o r   2 0 1 6 - 2 0 2 0

The Vancouver Sailing Club  provides many fun opportunities for our Students and Members to sail locally and internationally. Our Learn to Sail & Cruise program is recognized as the  most complete convenient sailing education for adults of all ages.

To do this we continue to build and enhance our:

      • "Safety is First" culture - the proper selection; use and care of sailing equipment; gear and PFDs; and completing Float Plans for all VSC activities
      • NauticEd Learn-to-Sail and Cruise Program, adding more opportunities to enrol in weekend and week-long Cruise & Learn courses
      • the RYA Day Skipper and International Certificate of Competence certifications
      • VSC Club Day Sailing opportunities for Friday & Saturday Bowen Island and Indian Arm in the Spring, Summer and Fall
      • Log Book Mileage Builder opportunities for cruising the Gulf Islands, West Coast of Vancouver Island, Desolation Sound, the Broughtons and San Juan Islands
      • Cruise & Learn Flotilla International Sailing Adventures to  add  Phuket Thailand, Antigua and Greece 
      • Distance Racing Program to include Southern Straits Classic, Around Patos Island, Collingwood Channel, Around Saltspring, Swiftsure International, Howe Sound, Fraser Lightship, Seattle Grand Prix and Round the County
      • Revisions to our VSC 504 Competent Keelboat Racing Crew program are adding clinics on Asymetrical Spinnaker and Regatta Racing 


Carl Richardson, Managing Director


“Learning to sail together can save your marriage”.
- Anon

We don't think so, but it can be a lot of fun doing something as exciting as sailing together- an art, science, sport and lifestyle that many couples enjoy for a lifetime.

There is absolutely nothing only "male" about sailing. Women can and should be as skilled in steering, docking, navigating and MOB drills as men. 

One scenario we see often both here on the coast and the Great Lakes, is the man has more sailing experience and knowledge than the woman. He typically navigates, steers and does the docking while she handles the lines. Both may know their jobs but if the man goes overboard or gets hurt or sick, the woman can't bring the boat back to the dock and often ends up stressed or the target of unpleasant yelling.

Smart men take sailing lessons with their wives (or significant others) because the ASA certification process ensures that they will share a common sailing vocabulary and learn all the necessary skills to be competent and confident sailors. Both understand their mutual sailing abilities, attitudes toward safety and what constitutes a full day of cruising. Better communication will increase the pleasure factor for both parties and is the first step in building the kind of partnership that endures for a lifetime.

From our experience, once the couple's sailing lessons are completed, the men readily admit they have learned a lot more about sailing knowledge, seamanship, boat handling skills "and" their new First Mate!

Women feel the confidence that comes with sailing competence, achieved by mastering the important skills presented in their courses.

Couples come to the Vancouver Sailing Club to become better prepared to sail and cruise together with proven skills and earned confidence.

Returning to the Vancouver winter and collecting my baggage at YVR, my cellphone rings with a call from a friend. “How was your trip?” I respond, “Well. I surfed, sailed under the Harbour Bridge, flew in a helicopter, played golf and rescued two girls from drowning in a rip!”

Welcome to Sydney, New South Wales, at Christmas, where the adventure begins.

Having grown up and loved Sydney for 15 years, and now as a full-time Vancouverite, my family and friends don’t need to lobby very hard to convince me to return for two weeks to soak up some sun, eat some turkey and play backyard cricket (a favourite Aussie past-time) over the Christmas period. Landing a few days earlier — fly Air Canada direct, I flew Air China very in-direct — the mercury is hitting 30 C and I need to ditch my winter threads for more appropriate holiday attire.

Pitt Street in downtown Sydney — the fourth most expensive street in the world for retail rent space — is the perfect place to find the latest summer trends. I lose the jeans and hoodie for some cool Speedo board shorts and a couple of shirts from top Aussie designer Wayne Cooper.

With a pair of thongs (the things typically worn on your feet) thrown in, I’m set!

A day at the beach

As Christmas Eve is fast approaching, I call an Aussie mate and three Irish expats now living in Australia, and a plan is hatched to head out of the city on a surf trip.

With our car loaded with surfboards, we arrive at one of my favourite beaches and secret jewels of the New South Wales Central Coast, Avoca Beach, about 1.5 hours drive north of Sydney.

Now, recognizing that the Irish are as about as adept at ocean surf survival as Torontonians, my Aussie mate Jason and I decide a quick lesson in the danger of rips (strong seaward flowing currents) is in order for the expats. Scorned, we are assured by two of the expats, Steph and Nola, of their swimming pedigree.

Whatever, the waves are four feet high and perfect with a water temperature of 23 C, Jason and I delve into a quality surf session while the expats sunbake on the beach.

Following our surf, we head back to our spot on the beach to warm up; Steph and Nola finally decide to dip their toes.

Wading right into the rip, they are quickly carried out by a strong current.

Panicking and screaming, no one hears or notices their predicament; the three of us left on the beach are not in a position to see the commotion either, and go about relaxing under the midday sun.

Luckily, perhaps an early Christmas present, I tell the other two as they lay in the sun: “This sun is intense, I’m going for a swim.” Leaving my board on the beach, I head into the water. Spotting Nola struggling to keep her head above water, I head over to see what the problem is.

“Adrien, get me out of here, I want out!” Then I hear another voice much further out, it’s Steph and she is in even worse shape by the looks of it, “Adrien! Help! Adrien!”

She disappears from sight and sound. Two Irish girls in a world of trouble.

This story develops over the next five minutes but suffice to say felt like a lifetime.

It ends well after I drag Nola out of the rip and on to a sand bank, and then enlist a couple of surfers to help me find Steph as she disappears between the waves.

Exhausted but back on the safety of the beach, we all reflect on Nola and Steph’s unplanned existential experience.

What do five 20-somethings on holidays do after something like this occurs? One thing and one thing only, a few laid back beers at Avoca Surf Club. Phew, all is good in the world again!

Writers tip to holiday beachgoers in Australia: Always swim in the patrolled area of the beach and between the flags.

After a hectic trip to the beach on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day produces the goods with a 19-pound turkey, some backyard cricket and a drink called ‘Kryptonite’ — so named because it contains enough champagne and melon liqueur to knock out Superman.

It’s a blue-sky day and the older crowd is soaking up the sun on my aunt’s balcony while the younger generation whacks a tennis ball around the backyard with a cricket bat in one hand and a glass of kryptonite in the other. No professional sportsmen here, just a tonne of Christmas cheer.

Sailing season

It’s Boxing Day and for any sailor worth his salt it marks the start of the world’s greatest annual ocean race — the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

With Sydney Harbour in fanfare and the racing yachts crewed by sailing royalty that includes Americas Cup sailors as well as the youngest person to ever circumnavigate the globe solo, Jessica Watson, the fleet will set sail down for Hobart, Tasmania.

The event is not to be missed by any sailor in Sydney this time of year, chartering a spectator boat out to the start line is highly recommended.

However, I forego the opportunity to join the commotion for a casual game of golf instead, knowing that I will be out on the water the following day.

Besides, a casual nine holes on one of Sydney’s 105 estimated golf courses sounds like the perfect way to unwind and get some exercise to work off the Christmas turkey.

The next day I set sail around Sydney Harbour with a boat and skipper borrowed from the Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association.

We anchor off a harbour beach on Sydney’s north shore for some champagne and smoked salmon. Half of the crew decides to dive into the water and swim to the nearby beach, the rest are hesitant because of a perceived risk of sharks in the area.

I learn a few days later that a surfer was attacked by a 1.8-metre Bronze Whaler at the very beach we were surfing at on Christmas Eve. This is Australia, though, and nature can sometimes have a wild side, Aussies just take a laid back approach to life here — a “she’ll be right” attitude.

Hunter Valley Wine Tasting

Moving away from the coast, a few friends and I head up to the world famous Hunter Valley for a wine, cheese and chocolate tasting tour. Yum.

We hire a tour bus driver for $65 each to avoid the need for a designated driver.

It’s beautiful up here, and after a day of free sampling with the Hunter Valley scenery in the background, it’s easy to see why they call Australia the “lucky country.”

Expert travel writer’s pick of vineyards: Buy any wine from Wynwood Estates and you won’t be disappointed. Wine here comes from a vineyard know as, “one of the best in the Hunter Valley.”

Bondi Beach ‘a place you’drather be’

It’s not long until the siren call of the ocean calls me back, so I head out to renowned Bondi Beach for a couple of days, about 10 minutes drive from the Sydney CBD. It’s a place with a “celebrities aren’t anyone and everyone is someone” attitude about it.

Overlooking a Snoop Dogg concert on the beach from a rooftop party across the esplanade, it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m bringing in 2012 with a few requisite Coronas. Earlier in the day, I wake up at a friend’s apartment to capture the last sunrise of 2011 on camera.

If you have never seen the sun rise over the Pacific, then Bondi is the place to be. It’s where the Aussie dream is born every day.

Wrapping up my photos and a quick swim, I head to one of the many small boutique coffee shops for a morning latte. No need for chain shops here, there are too many top-notch baristas with a strong multicultural and Italian influence. I can taste it in my coffee — it’s the taste of satisfaction.

Sydney Harbour, helicopters and goodbyes

Courtesy of my brother Robbie, and my Dad, I take to the air over the city on a 30-minute helicopter flight.

A perfect vantage point for photos of the harbour and Opera House, I also spot a few dozen climbers endeavouring to reach the summit of the Harbour Bridge by foot.

It’s my last full day in Sydney and a helicopter flight is the perfect way to say goodbye. I’ve done so much in this iconic city, but feel I have barely scratched the surface.

- Adrien Byrne

Copyright (c) The Province

Friday January 27th, 2012
James Hoskins crossed the bar this afternoon. He was where he wanted to be, at home with his sons and wife.
James was a good friend of mine, more like an older brother in some ways. He was a good man who built a caring family and enjoyed many good friends. Dianne, Jim's wife and his two sons, Brit & Ted, are going to miss him terribly even though he prepared them well for this end.
Jim loved adventure and saw the world after high school by tramp steamer and hitchhiking into it's remotest corners. He was accomplished in his career having been the President of The Longshoremans Union in Vancouver for 2 terms. Jim was a card carrying NDP party executive and his best and longest friend, Alex, is an elected NDP Member of Parliament. Jim understood and cared about what was happening in his community, BC and Canada.
I met Jim through our wives friendship at their work. I invited Jim to race one Saturday in Point Roberts in 1994. Prior to this, the closest Jim had been to a sailboat was fishing on a 25 ft Commercial troller his Dad was a cook on when Jim was a kid. Jim was 48 at that time. In the following weeks Jimmy quickly found his position as " Mastman" and helped the crew around the buoys for many Saturdays and Sundays. Over the 18 years I have known him I can't recall Jimmy being late or missing a race- or practice for that matter. Six years after that first day, Jim and I attended the fall Annapolis Boat Show in Maryland. We both went weak kneed when we saw a new boat design that was tied to the dock. I remember we looked at each other with open mouths gaping and decided at that moment to buy her. It was a French boat and Dianne and Susan decided on a French name " Allons-y" which means "go for it !" in English and to pay for this luxury Jim and I launched a company- Allons-y Performance Sailing- the precurser to the Vancouver Sailing Club. I have taught over 450  people to sail at the VSC but I have never seen anyone enjoy himself more on the water.
One of the pictures I cherish is one of Jim on the podium in Comox receiving the winners flag after the second race on the VanIsle360 Regatta in 2005. Earlier that day, Jim was at the wheel on a screaming spinnaker reach approaching the FINISH line outside of the harbor. We had taken a flyer and it paid off big with line honours ahead of all the bigger faster boats. As an owner of the boat he was so excited for our hardworking crew.
Jim's broad smile was almost always present but never as wide when he was on his boat or dancing with his beautiful daughters- in- law at a party. His two sons Britt and Ted and their families with 4 grandchildren are going to miss him.
Jim had been retired for a year when he found out about the cancer.  The ordeal of operations and chemo were tough on him and he told me it was his family and close friends that kept him from not giving up. I saw him often this last year and was always in awe of his grace with people and his steely commitment to beat it.
I saw him last night at his home-based hospice set up in their family room. Jimmy was very thin, weak and unable to talk due to the powerful drugs he took to deal with the pain of abdominal cancer. I don't know if he heard me, but as I held his hand, rubbing his arm, I told him to let go of this life, it was time for his next adventure.

I am thankfully strong in faith, but I will be weak for a time after losing my First Mate. I miss his deep laugh, the broad smiles and that twinkle in his eyes.
Press- on vigorously Jimmy.


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