Courses and Workshops

Course Venue: Our courses will be offered at the Rollo Centre, 685 North Road, Gabriola Island.

Gabriola Squadron Boating Courses, 2018:

Boating 1 - Boating Basics (PCOC)

Course dates:
* January 10 - January 31, 2018;
* Exam February 7, 2018.

Courses run on Wednesdays from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Course fee: $75 ($45 for CPS members)
All operators of motorized pleasure craft are required to show proof of operator competency. All you need to know for the Transport Canada test is presented in an easy to read format that is both informative and entertaining. You can be confident that this study guide meets all the standards established by Transport Canada’s Office of Boating Safety.
As an extra benefit, if you pass the test offered by Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, your Card is recognized by BOTH Transport Canada and The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (USA).

Introduction to Cruising: CPS Boating 2 (Beyond the PCOC) and Boating 3 (Intro to Navigation)

Course dates:
* Boating 2: February 14 - March 7, 2018;
* Boating 3: March 14 - April 18, 2018;
* Exams: April 25, 2018
Wednesdays 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Course fee: $220 ($150 for CPS members)
Boating Basics with PCOC makes sure you have immediate navigation and safety skills but it’s just the beginning of what you should know when you head out on a boat. Introduction to Cruising will take you to the next level in your boating education. This course will introduce you to charts, the art of navigation, conning and plotting, magnetic compass, GPS and electronic charting, collision regulations, tides and currents, handling a boat under power or sail, docking, environmental responsibilities, electrical hazards and on-board emergencies - not to mention anchoring, ropes, lines and knots and weather.
Introduction to Cruising requires that students register for both Boating 2 and Boating 3. This course includes all the optional modules for both Boating 2 and 3 listed on the CPS website as well practical exercises, workshops and modules developed specifically for this course.
To register for these courses, emailBert terHart.

Maritime Radio:

Course date: Saturday, February 10, 2018 9:30 am to 4:00 p.m.
Course fee: $95 ($80 for CPS members)
This course is offered as a one-day course several times a year. The successful completion of the course gives one the Restricted Operator's Certificate (Maritime) license. It is illegal to operate a marine radio without this certificate. Because it is offered as a one-day course, we urge potential students to contact us well before the course date so that they can obtain the course materials and review them before the day the course is taught and the exam administered.
To register for this course, emailBert terHart.

More Information:

For more information about the courses (not workshops), go to theCourses pageof the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron's national web site.
Information on times and fees of courses and workshops offered, if not already posted, will be listed here as it becomes available.
Courses and workshops, unless otherwise noted, are offered at the Rollo Centre, 685 North Road.

Contacts - click on the names to email:Bert terHartorMike Hoeinghausfor more information and for registration on a first-come basis.

Gabriola Power Squadron Spring Workshop Series

Spring heralds the beginning of the recreational boating season here on BC’s west coast. For those of us lucky enough to live here, some of the most pristine cruising grounds in the world are within a day or two’s sail in sheltered waters. Easy access, however, doesn’t always mean easy. Any skill, no matter how well learned or practiced, becomes rusty and untrusted from disuse. My father, having sailed all over the world, referred to the Pacific Northwest as the ‘All or nothing coast’. Either it’s blowing like fury or not at all.

I would go one step further and say that, as boaters, we need all our skills or none at all. Docking is either a simple exercise until it turns into a nightmarish gong-show. Anchoring is a no-brainer until you find yourself drifting down onto the rocks at 3am in a terrific blow against tide that is churning up waves that only the devil could muster. No matter how you put it, it’s a seaman-like way of saying that it’s all fun and games until someone puts an eye out.

Thus to my point: Any skill not recently exercised is no skill at all. You may have heard me espouse the Three-P’s. As in Plan, Prepare, Practice. During weekends in April and May, we’ll be offering anyone interested in learning a new trick or two, thinking about purchasing some new bit of gear or revamping an old one, or wondering if there’s a better way to do it some practical, hands-on, over-the-shoulder help and skills training.

These workshops are intended as practical, on-the-water exercises to help boaters see first-hand and discover some of the tricks and tips that help make boating safer, more fun and way less stressful.

The Squadron will be supplying a light lunch, snacks and hot and cold drinks for all full day workshops. Handouts, laminated checklists and the like will be provided as well as any materials required (ie: ropes and cord for the splicing workshop, etc.)

Lastly, these workshops are open to the public. All that is required is an interest in boating! Space is very limited and demand is typically very high. To ensure space, book your spots early! Contact the Squadron Educational Officer, Bert terHart at 778.557.2824 or email atBert terHartfor more information.

Anchoring – Sunday, April 15th 9:30am – 4pm: $79*/person

Dock Walk:

The most basic, fundamental skill in boating is knowing how to anchor your boat. Nothing will improve your confidence afloat more than knowing you can anchor safely. We’ll review anchoring in general, including what gear works and what doesn’t, and inspecting your anchoring gear. Once aboard, we’ll demonstrate single, tandem and double-anchoring, Bahamian mooring, setting a drudging anchor, setting a stern anchor, using a counter-balanced trip line, choosing and setting snubber, using an anchor bridle to reduce shock loads and using an anchor bridle to adjust the boat’s heading. We’ll discuss retrieving a fouled anchor and lastly, anchor etiquette. Specifically:

  1. Examine different anchors and discuss pros and cons of each
    1. What works best in what bottom
    2. All-chain vs all-rode vs combination rodes
    3. Size
    4. etc.
  2. Examine different anchor gear installation and discuss
    1. Windlass installation ad operation
    2. Bow-rollers
    3. Chocks
    4. Fairleads
    5. Chain-stoppers and brakes
    6. Chafe gear
    7. Snubbers
    8. etc.
  3. Seek out anchor and/or anchoring gear weak points and discuss best-practices in light of found faults
    1. Shackles too small
    2. Shackles improperly seized
    3. Different metals used in the gear that could lead to galvanic corrosion issues
    4. Properly securing the anchor
    5. Anchors too small
    6. Improper use of an anchor swivel
    7. etc.

Out of water anchor deployment:

  1. Set out a combination rode (50’ 5/16” hi-test chain and 100’ ¾” nylon plait) attached to a 35lb Danforth
  2. Bring the terminal end of the rode up to the landing at dock, simulating a 2.5:1 scope)
  3. Demonstrate how a pulling force on the rode causes the rode to lift and the angle of attack on the rode vs anchor changes
  4. Demonstrate how little force is required to raise the rode
  5. Show and discuss the rode’s catenary.

On the water anchor deployments:

  1. Discuss selecting an appropriate and anchor location based on bottom conditions, existing anchored and/or moored vessels, weather (both current and expected), and tide
  2. Discuss effective communication between foredeck crew and helm
  3. Discuss anchor and rode selection
  4. Practice deploying:
    1. Single anchor
    2. Single buoyed anchor
    3. Forked anchors (two anchors set out at 45-60degrees)
    4. Tandem anchors (two anchors set in-line)
    5. Bahamiam moor
    6. Bow and stern anchors
    7. Using an anchor bridle
    8. Using an anchor snubber
    9. Using two snubbers in severe conditions
    10. Using a drudging anchor off the bow to reduce yawing
    11. Using a drudging anchor off the stern to reduce yawing
    12. Deploying a riding sail
    13. Sailing out an anchor.

Post exercise critiques and comments (submitted anonymously).

*An additional $10 will be charged for non-Power Squadron members

Docking – Saturday, April 21st 9:30am – 4pm: $79*/person

Dock Walk:

If you’re like the vast majority of recreational boaters, the most stressful part of the whole boating experience is docking. There’s a reason why everyone loves to stop what they’re doing and watch you dock. There is also nothing quite as satisfying as silencing the peanut-gallery. We’ll be practicing the essential skills necessary to safely leave and return to a slip. We’ll be warping the boat onto and off the dock, how to use wind and current to your advantage, how best to deploy crew and when, if ever, you should use dock-side help. Lastly, we’ll go over the short and single-handed docking skills and the one and only line you line you cannot do without when docking. Specifically:

  1. Examine and discuss:
    1. Different dock lines and their names
    2. Different dock line attachments points on different vessels
    3. Snubbers
    4. Chafe gear
    5. Over and undersized lines
    6. Knots

Attend Seaburban and discuss:

  1. Dock line selection
  2. Attachment points
  3. Demonstrate:
    1. The center of lateral resistance
    2. Momentum and inertia
    3. How to snub a vessels motion
    4. The difference between and purpose of a bow and stern line and a spring line
    5. Sight lines from the helm, bow, stern and beam
  4. Effective communication between crew and helm

On the water Docking drills include:

  1. Demonstrate the vessel's:
    1. Pivot point in forward
    2. Pivot point in reverse
    3. Prop-walk in reverse
    4. Ability to turn a 180 or 360 degree circle in it’s own length using forward thrust and prop-walk
  2. Come alongside in forward
  3. Come alongside in reverse
  4. Using an anchor to kedge onto the dock
  5. Using a breast line to come alongside parallel to the dock
  6. Using a breast line to power onto the dock
  7. Using a bow after spring to move the stern off the dock
  8. Using a quarter forward spring to move the bow off the dock
  9. Using an anchor to kedge off the dock
  10. Using warps to turn the vessel around at the dock.

Post exercise critiques and comments (submitted anonymously).

*An additional $10 will be charged for non-Power Squadron members

Sail Handling - Saturday, April 28th 9:30am – 4pm: $79*/person

We’ll review mast and rig tuning, sail controls, sail inspection and repair and then head out onto the water to hoist, set, trim and reef the main, genoa, jib, staysail, drifter, asymmetrical spinnaker and symmetrical spinnaker. We’ll review trim characteristics of each and how to get the most out of each sail. Come along and learn the tricks and techniques to not only get your boat moving in the lightest of airs, but to keep you safe and sound no matter how hard it blows. Specifically:

Dock Walk:

  1. Discussion of the different rig and sail types
  2. Discuss the various contrivances to make sail-handling and trim easier, faster, or more convenient for short-handed crew found on the different vessels
  3. Discuss general best-practices and is or is not evidenced on the vessels examined

Attend Seaburban:

  1. Discuss the rig in general including:
    1. Mast tune
    2. Size of standing rigging
    3. Standing rigging connections
    4. Running rigging
    5. Fairleads
    6. Controls
    7. Demonstrate how flexible the mast actually is
  2. Discuss the location and use of her offshore sailing setup:
    1. Rigged preventers for the main boom
    2. Rigged boom-brake for the main boom
    3. Rigged foreguys and afterguys for the spinnaker and whisker poles
    4. Aysmmetrical spinnaker and Code 0 tacks
    5. Jacklines
    6. Inner-forestay and staysail
    7. Lazy-jacks
    8. Running back-stays
    9. Topping lifts
    10. Reefing lines

On the water Sail handling drills:

  1. Perform the following:
    1. Set, trim, furl, and reef a roller-furling headsail
    2. Set, trim, and strike the mainsail on a beat, reach, and run
    3. Set all three reefs in the main on a beat, reach, and run
    4. Set and trim the asymmetrical spinnaker on a reach and run
    5. Strike the asymmetrical using a sock
    6. Set and trim the symmetrical spinnaker on a reach and run
    7. Strike the symmetrical spinnaker using a sock
    8. Trim the boat properly on a beat, reach, and run while flying all sails

Post exercise critiques and comments (submitted anonymously).

*An additional $10 will be charged for non-Power Squadron members

Man Overboard – Sunday, April 29th 9:30am – 4pm: $79*/person

In cold water, a man overboard situation is potentially fatal. Ending up in the water can happen anywhere and anytime, including simply falling of a dock! We’ll be reviewing the skills, drills and procedures you need to know to safely recover (heaven forbid) someone who falls overboard. We’ll review and practice the generally accepted ways to maneuver a power or sail-driven vessel to effectively return and/or search for a MOB. We’ll demonstrate and practice different methods that can be employed to safely recover an MOB. Honing these skills can easily save a life. Specifically:

Dock Walk and discussion regarding:

  1. Lifeline and stanchion mounting and installation
  2. Freeboard and reboarding devices
  3. Prevention of MOB at the dock itself
  4. Safety gear (ladders, AE, first-aid stations, etc) at the dockside facility itself

Attend Seaburban:

  1. Discussion of the different types of PFDs and lifejackets
  2. Demonstration of
    1. Inflating a self-inflating vest-type PFD
    2. Inspection and changing the charging cylinder on an inflatable vest-type PFD
  3. Discussion of the different MOB gear to include
    1. Ring-buoy
    2. Heaving line
    3. Life-Sling
    4. MOB pole and strobe
    5. MOM (Man Overboard Module) self-inflating and single person reaft, pole, horseshoe, ight and drogue

On the water drills

  1. How to throw a heaving line
  2. How to deploy a ring-buoy
  3. How to deploy an MOB pole and attached strobe
  4. Demonstration of
    1. a. Visibility, or lack thereof, of an MOB by throwing a small Scotchman™ type fender overboard and sailing away from it
    2. b. Difficulty of maintaining visual contact with an MOB using the Scotchman™ as a proxy for a MOB
    3. Difficulty of returning and attempting recovery
    4. Difficulty of recovery
  5. Recovery Maneuvers under sail and power
    1. Quick Stop Maneuver
    2. Williamson Turn
    3. Single Turn
  6. Recovery Procedures assuming conscious and compliant victim
    1. Reboarding devices
    2. Hoisting/lifting slings and hauling devices
    3. Lifting strop using sheets and winches
  7. Recovery Procedures assuming an unconscious or non-compliant victim
    1. Hoisting/lifting slings and hauling devices

Post exercise critiques and comments (submitted anonymously).

*An additional $10 will be charged for non-Power Squadron members

Local Weather Forecasting and Prediction – Saturday, May 5th 1pm – 4pm: $49*/person

Boating is an outdoor exercise. Why not discover how to read the signs and portents that are on the water and in the skies. A practical review of what to look for and how to interpret what’s going on in the skies and on the water so you an augment and improve upon any forecast you might have. A few simple skills are all you need to get a very good, and usually very accurate idea of what the next 2-24 hours is going to bring. We’ll go over cloud formations and shapes, local phenomena and events and, most importantly, how to take the guesswork out of what the weather has in store.

We’ll be emphasizing using local conditions, local charts and any local knowledge to enhance and localize the current weather forecast. In the absence of a forecast, using clouds, winds, local phenomena (tides, points and capes, et) to create short-term usable forecast. Specifically:

Conducted outdoors at Orlebar Point as:

  1. There is a narrow channel just offshore that has strong tidal currents
  2. There is a sharp drop-off to nearly 1100’ close aboard Entrance Island that is discernible from Orlebar
  3. There are frequent out-flow winds streaming out of the entrance to Nanaimo Harbour
  4. There is a good view to the North Shore Mountains and Texada Island to the North. These locations tend to generate vigorous orographic cloud forms and their associated winds
  5. There is a good view up and down Georgia Strait.

Introductory Remarks

  1. Discuss Weather in general and specifically:
    1. Cloud types and altitudes covering the basic cloud types (Cirrus, Alto, Stratus and Cumulus)
    2. The importance of the barometric trends
    3. The importance and relevance of local observation
  2. Discuss the 5 points above and impacts they have on local weather
  3. Point out how the 5 points above are impacting the current weather conditions and how those conditions are likely to evolve in the near term

Handout laminated cheat-sheets showing specific cloud types and their implied prognosis.

Handout and discuss a laminated ‘Go-No-Go’ weather, crew, and vessel cheat-sheet.

Post exercise critiques and comments (submitted anonymously).

*An additional $10 will be charged for non-Power Squadron members

Splicing – Sunday, May 6th 9:30am – 4pm: $79*/person

Discover how everything old is new again. Which is to say that hi-tech ropes and fibres can be used to back-up and or replace expensive and heavy stainless shackles, tackles and fittings. We will go over creating hi-tech shackles, grommets (rings), and strops whose uses are limited only by your imagination. In addition, you’ll learn rope-to-chain splices, double-braid eye splices, and how to make hi-tech halyards. All rope and tools will be provided.

Introductory Discussion

  1. Traditional Ropes and rope fibres and their usage onboard
    1. 3-strand
    2. Single braids
    3. Double braids
  2. Hi-tech rope and rope fibres and their usage onboard
    1. Dyneema single braids
    2. Dyneema/Vectra cored ropes

Splicing tools

Splicing best practices


  1. Traditional Splices
    1. 3-strand
      1. Eye
      2. Rope to Chain
    2. Double-braid
      1. Eye
  2. Hi-tech splices
    1. Mobius Brummel eye
    2. Grommets (rings)
    3. Soft Shackles

Post exercise critiques and comments (submitted anonymously).

*An additional $10 will be charged for non-Power Squadron members

PCOC Course on the Internet:

The PCOC online course is now live on our national CPS - ECP web site. It can be viewed by visitingPCOC Online