Julia and Bryan exchange their vows on a private yacht

Celebrating 10 years in the charter business, multi-yacht events are common occurrences at Gone Sailing Adventures. Despite this, each special sail has been unique, meaningful and required special attention. We have hosted many special occasions: corporate events and summer long brand experiences, bachelorette and birthday parties, ash-scatterings, photo shoots and over the last few years, couples have reached out to tie the knot on board.

Usually these intimate events occupy only one yacht (8-12 people). In 2018 we had our first “3 boat” wedding with 26 people on board.

Julia & Bryan’s Flotilla Wedding

The Gone Sailing Adventure’s team and I had such a memorable experience with our guests, we decided to welcome aboard more couples. In 2019, we set a new record as we hosted our largest wedding yet: 45 people – amongst four yachts.

Chris & Carlos Tie the Knot

During each of the previous weddings, I played a minor role in providing the venue coupled with my regular captaining responsibilities. Our couples arranged their own officiant and details.

In 2019, on a charter with guests of Joe Pilati, editor of the Bridal Guide and Canada Gay Weddings, I was introduced to Ray Swash, president of Dream Weddings Canada. His company provides officiant services to couples. We talked about the process of becoming a licensed officiant and how it would be unique to be married by a real ship’s captain. It didn’t take much convincing and at the end of the 2018 sailing season, I enrolled in a one day course, and became an ordained minister and licensed officiant in the Province of Ontario. I am now the first and only Toronto ship’s captain to do so. On June 22, 2019, I presided over the first marriage in Toronto by a ship’s captain aboard the sailing vessel WhiRLygirl.

Captain Howie Officiates

In the spring of 2019, as I was hiring staff for the summer and reacquainting with our existing team from previous year. One of my captains, Bryan described his underwater wedding to Julia (also part of our crew) during their winter holiday. It was fun and spontaneous, but they also wanted to be legal in Ontario. He and Julia discussed it and a plan was put in place. I was all set, my first wedding. In 4 weeks, our first big event of the summer would take place and it was going to be their wedding. Now, in addition to the many “titles” I have, I became a wedding planner as well.

I offered the yachts of Gone Sailing Adventures (3 beautiful Beneteaus and a Dufour, all 38-41′), Bryan arranged for the crew to volunteer that evening. I provided the photographer Samantha Jackson from our team during the sail and hired the florist, Carlene Francis of Casa die Fiori.

I engaged my partner, Heather Henderson (aka ‘the Admiral”) to outfit me. Beyond her day job as an ER nurse, she is a talented artist, decorator, seamstress, and amazing organizer. She designed the Captain’s epaulets for my official uniform. Working with Carlene, the two created a unique floral and textile design on the front of our 41′ yacht WhiRLygirl. The two created a beautiful floral frame while still having an open view forward of the bow.

Wedding Decorations on WhiRLygirl

Being in the City of Toronto, we were required to go east in order to avoid the restrictions on drone flying near Billy Bishop Airport. This event also needed proper video, and Ed Radonic of Radonic Rodgers Strategy, tourism and marketing was engaged to provide drone footage of the evening. We decided Asbridges Bay, just off Woodbine Beach would be far enough away to fly the drone and would create an excellent view of the city as the sun set during the wedding ceremony. The weather was perfect – a sunny and rare warm June evening with just a light wind. The flotilla set off at 6pm from the Gone Sailing Adventures dock at Queens Quay W and Lower Spadina Ave. Motoring close together so that the whole group of 45, spread across the 4 yachts could at least be in sight of each other as we made our way out of the Harbour and east to Woodbine Beach. We were greeted by the Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club racing fleet as we approached the anchorage. It was a beautiful site, spinnakers flying – something special for many of the guests who had never been on a sail boat before. At the Anchorage, the flotilla rafted together and everyone gathered around the foredeck of WhiRLygirl. As the sun started to set I with a long blast of my conch shell I made the call to begin the ceremony. Bryan walked up the port side of the boat and Julia, treading carefully in her heals (an exception was made to the no shoe rule) on the starboard side.

“Pirates, Sailors, Scallywags, and Stowaways… In other words… friends and family”… is how the ceremony began. The couple sealed their wedding vows by tying a knot. Prepared by Cap’t Howie, the wedding (fisherman’s) knot tightened as the two worked together pulling each end to form a single knot from the two pieces of rope. A toast was made and King Neptune was asked “to watch upon this couple and provide fair seas and safe passage to Julia and Bryan on their life long journey together.” This request was sealed with a sacrificial drop of alcohol and a shared swig (“sailor style” from the bottle of iceberg vodka) The party continued upon returning to the dock at the Loch&Quay bistro.

Just Married

Being able to host special occasions have been an incredible way to connect with our guests. The Gone Sailing Adventure’s team always make our guest experience extra special and unique. Sailing is a way to escape from reality and connect with the natural environment. We look forward to creating an event for couples looking for an on the water marriage experience and a memorable moment in their lives. Let us help create your wedding ceremony by the water.

Your Private Wedding on the Water Includes:

  • Intimate Harbour Sail showing city skyline and lake vista
  • Luxury Yacht
  • Professional Captain and Crew
  • Officiant
  • 1 Bottle of Prosecco & Complimentary Water
  • Photographer and Candid Video

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