Van Isle Sailing Co-op hosts open house

NANAIMO - Organization offers inexpensive access to boats, sailing experience.

If your lifestyle in the mid-Island area doesn’t include getting out on the water, you might be missing half the fun.

But owning your own sailboat can be expensive, and learning how to sail takes commitment, which is why the Van Isle Sailing Co-op formed seven years ago.

“We provide the boats, and we provide the opportunity to sail with experienced sailors,” said Richard Holmboe, president of the co-op. “It’s an easy way to test sailing out, see if you like it.

“Some people discover they don’t, while others love it so much they buy their own boats. But the co-op was established to provide those who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to sail to try it out and learn more about it.”

Van Isle Sailing Co-op is holding an open house Saturday (June 8) at the Nanaimo Boat Basin from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the same day racing yachts in the Van Isle 360 leave Nanaimo Harbour on the 580-nautical mile race.

Interested people will have an opportunity to visit the co-op’s four Catalina 27s, which Holmboe equates to “a dependable, comfortable Chevy” capable of local, overnight and long weekend cruising, meet the 60 or so members, and learn about some of the frequent events the co-op has planned over the summer, which includes trips throughout the Gulf Islands and to Desolation Sound.

“It’s very much a social group as well as learning how to sail,” said Holmboe. “And if you join, there is also some sweat equity involved. Maintaining and cleaning the boats with other members is part of it.”

Meetings are held once a month and often include guest speakers, and picnics, parties, pub nights and barbecues are planned to complement the sailing trips.

By learning how to sail and care for boats, members can also become valuable to the general sailing community in Nanaimo, added Holmboe.

“Most sailboats require a crew of at least three people, which is why sometimes on those perfect August days you see all of those beautiful boats tied up in the marinas, the owners couldn’t find a crew to sail it,” he added.

The co-op does not provide Canadian Yachting Association certification, though it does work with local organizations that do, such as the local Power and Sail Squadron.

The Van Isle Sailing Co-op is a non-profit organization dedicated to the sport of sailing, co-operative ownership of boats, and introducing people to the sport.

For more information and membership prices, please visit and download the brochure.