Did You Ever have to Make up Your Mind? Maybe you don’t have to…

By Allegra Smith-Herriott

Sail vs. Power? Likely one of the more debatable topics in the boating community.

Canada offers a playground for boating enthusiasts with its vast and diverse set of waterways from our freshwater paradise lakes to our beautiful saltwater coastlines.

For newcomers entering the boating world, it can be overwhelming trying to decide how to get involved out on the water with so many opportunities available.

Allegra and her Dad, Greg, on the start of an overnight sail.

Maybe you’re looking to get into boating and you’re wondering what it’s like to power boat or sail. Or maybe there are power boaters out there who’ve always wanted to set sail. Or there are sailors out there who’ve always wanted to open the throttle. Whether you’re new to the boating community or are a seasoned boater already, it’s always worthwhile to weigh your options and try something new.

There are so many unique aspects to power boating and sailing, especially in the Canadian context. From personal experience, I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to power boat and sail my entire life. I got my boater’s license before my driver’s license and have sailed in so many beautiful places around the world. 

Benjamin Islands, Georgian Bay

Both leave you with so much more than just unforgettable memories. They create new relationships, provide important skills and teach you valuable life lessons.

It can be a difficult decision as both provide different lifestyles but when it comes to being out on the water, you really can’t go wrong with either.

Western Islands, Georgian Bay

POWER BOATING

There are many great elements to power boating in Canada that allow you to experience the freedom of exploring vast expanses of water quickly. Power boating is so much more than just going fast. Of course, you have speed, adrenaline and adventure, but you also have the beauty of cruising and enjoying all of the unique waterways Canada has to offer.

MANEUVERABILITY

Power boating provides more maneuverability allowing you to easily navigate through busy waterways and access remote locations. It allows adventurers to reach secluded and less accessible destinations, perfect for the Canadian waters with its network of rivers, lakes and coastal regions. Many power boats provide a shallow draft and low clearance, letting you discover hidden gems out on the water.

The nature of power boating; boat camping on the Western Islands on a hot, summer night.

VERSATILITY & CONVENIENCE

Power boats come in a variety of shapes and sizes offering versatility for any activity like fishing, wake sports or simply cruising. Power boating is efficient with its hop-in-and-go feature, perfect for when you’re limited on time or looking for a spur-of-the-moment outing. Power boats are also well suited to handle Canada’s diverse weather conditions and can even extend your boating season with the right type of boat.

ADRENALINE

Powerboating fulfills a need for speed and provides endless potential for pure adventure. There are many exhilarating activities that you can participate in like wakesurfing, wakeboarding, water skiing, knee boating, tubing and so much more.  

One of my favourite memories that grasps the essence of power boating is a hot, summer day on Georgian Bay. My family and I were heading out for a night on our Edgewater and decided to make the trip to the Western Islands. It was a day on the bay that we hardly ever experience. Not a breath of a breeze and flat as a pancake. I had to take advantage and hopped on our wakeboard all the way to the Westerns. I’ve never felt my legs burn more than they have but the experience was incredible and one I’ll never forget. We proceeded to have the most magical night at the Westerns all to ourselves.

SAILING

Sailing in Canada offers a unique perspective while being out on the water. Sailing is multifaceted and can be both a leisurely and adventurous activity but also a competitive and serious sport. It provides a more hands-on experience working simultaneously with your vessel and weather while cruising to your next destination.

The community and culture in sailing spans the globe and is evident in international events like the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta.

SERENE EXPLORATION

Sailing can provide a slower pace that allows for sailors to savour the journey and connect with the natural surroundings by taking in all of the sights, sounds and smells. There’s a pleasant relaxation aspect to sailing with a quiet, laid-back atmosphere and a timeless appeal.

ENVIRONMENTALLY & PHYSICALLY FRIENDLY

Sailing is a more environmentally conscious approach to enjoying Canada’s waterways. With a focus on harnessing the power of the wind to get to your next destination, sailing provides an eco-friendly option while also creating a hands-on learning experience in doing so. Handling the sails and navigating the boat creates an active and physically engaging experience on the water. The initial process of learning how to sail and mastering the elements is very rewarding. Katherine Stone touches more about learning to sail on Here.

nothing beats a beautiful sunset from a peaceful anchorage.

COMMUNITY & CULTURE

Sailing in Canada is filled with a strong community of sailors across the country. Not only is it an amazing activity but it’s a popular and competitive sport. Sailing lets you enter a more competitive side while out on the water whether that’s entering in local regattas, weekly club races or international events. Sailing creates a special community all around the world being surrounded by like-minded individuals who share a passion for the art of sailing and all of the adventure it brings.

One of my favourite sailing memories is an overnight sail I embarked on with my dad. We started the first 12 hours of the night pounding into 6-foot rollers facing 20+ knot gusts where we could hardly relax our muscles and stay upright. The wind finally died in the middle of the night, and we experienced the most magical ride as we smoothly sailed to our destination spotting shooting stars and watching a spectacular sunrise.

There’s nothing like going out for a simple, relaxing day sail but there’s also nothing like sailing in a regatta like I did at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta. Adrenaline and relaxation are at your fingertips anytime you’re behind the wheel. Sailing in Canada is very special and the comradery spans globally.

Jill Snider and Allegra Smith-Herriott going out for a joyride!

THE DECISION

Boating is an experience like no other. Living in Canada, we look forward to the boating season all year long and it typically goes by way too fast.

So many of my favourite memories are being out on the water with my friends and family. Growing up tubing with my friends, boating to work, learning to sail in summer camp through a series of capsizes, a 12-day sailing trip through the Great Lakes, exploring new anchorages and islands and stumbling across remote towns. There’s truly nothing like boating in Canada.  

When it comes to sail vs. power, it ultimately depends on personal preference. It can be a difficult decision based on your lifestyle and the type of experience you want to have while out on the water. At the end of the day no matter what you choose, wind vs. wake, navigating the waters of Canada is an unforgettable journey.

And always remember: Any day out on the water is a great day out on the water! So what will you choose?

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