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Old 01-11-2016, 16:42   #1
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Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

I'm in the midst of purchasing a sailboat so I'm looking ahead to plan a trip from Anacortes WA across the Canadian border to home in Vancouver.

I'll have all the papers/ownership, and I'm prepared to pay the whopping taxes when I cross the border. Curious if any other Canadians on here have made a trip like this through the border?

Also being a first time navigator of these waters (mostly experience as a Lake sailer till now) I'm wondering if anyone can offer tips for the journey, like:

a.) Best route to border/border-crossing - I see two, one on Pender Island (Bedwell) and another at White Rock. I have a 6' draft and have heard White Rock customs dock on low tide can be a bit tricky.

b.) Best time of the day (for Nov.) to catch the tide -- pardon my "tide" ignorance as I'm guessing this will change daily, perhaps a dumb question and yes I'll have navigation gear.

c.) How long the trip might take? Planning for one long and full day into Vancouver.
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Old 01-11-2016, 16:45   #2
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

What boat? Makes a difference in taxes. What destination? Bedwell probably closed at this time of yr. Need more details, have done this several times.
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Old 01-11-2016, 16:51   #3
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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What boat? Makes a difference in taxes. What destination? Bedwell probably closed at this time of yr. Need more details, have done this several times.
Ericson 38. Vancouver, don't have the marina yet.
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Old 01-11-2016, 16:56   #4
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Bedwell probably closed at this time of yr.
Just checked, closes September 30th.
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:08   #5
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Ericson 38. Vancouver, don't have the marina yet.
Where do you want to take the boat once inside Canada? You do know if you bought it in the USA that you could leave it full time in either Point Roberts or Blaine and not be subject to tax.
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Old 01-11-2016, 17:16   #6
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Where do you want to take the boat once inside Canada? You do know if you bought it in the USA that you could leave it full time in either Point Roberts or Blaine and not be subject to tax.
I'm aware of that. Would rather not drive that far each time I want to get to the boat. Most likely moor near the city, possibly as far as Fraser River.
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Old 01-11-2016, 22:52   #7
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Where do you want to take the boat once inside Canada? You do know if you bought it in the USA that you could leave it full time in either Point Roberts or Blaine and not be subject to tax.
Isn't that only allowed for a year and then the boat has to leave the country for a bit? Where would you go since you can't go to Canada?
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Old 02-11-2016, 07:37   #8
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Isn't that only allowed for a year and then the boat has to leave the country for a bit? Where would you go since you can't go to Canada?
Re-reading the above, I think Blaine or Pt. Roberts is a stopgap measure. I'd rather pay the tax and be done with it by importing the boat to Canada.
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:33   #9
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Re-reading the above, I think Blaine or Pt. Roberts is a stopgap measure. I'd rather pay the tax and be done with it by importing the boat to Canada.
As far as I know, if you leave your boat in the USA in order to not pay Canadian taxes, you can not enter Canada with it. If you are a Canadian living in Canada that boat is subject to taxes the minute it enters. You can not get a cruising permit for it. So yes, it isn't even a stopgap measure.
I was replying to the previous poster that said you could just leave the boat south of the border. My understanding is that doing so is not feasible even if you would be ok to not enter Canada with it to cruise the beautiful Canadian coast.

Regarding your original questions, I believe (but don't know for sure) that unlike the official US entry points of which there are only a few up here, Canadian entry points are all over the place, mostly 'phone in' stations. I would give Canada Customs a call and verify if you can use any reporting station to come in or if there are only specific manned stations that are acceptable (I believe any will do). There are many marinas that have reporting stations and I would be surprised if there wasn't one in the Vancouver area. Keep in mind that on a multi day passage you can not anchor without reporting first so it might just be better if you did a slight detour and reported in at Tsehum harbour near Sidney (just north of Sidney Marina).
The tides change every 6 hours and currents are all over the place. You will run into opposing current no matter what. I would only worry about tides in specific passes depending on the route that you intend to take.
Lastly, I do not believe you can make the trip in one day unless you are talking about sailing/motoring through the night which I would highly advise against based on your questions.
Looking at the charts, I would think a day to the Sidney area and then another day and a half to Vancouver.
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:02   #10
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

Don't overcomplicate things, and don't get ahead of your self. Given that you've decided to pay the taxes and duties, don't mess with Semiamoo or Blaine or any of the other US locations. Your problem will not be to deal with the Canadian authorities. That's the easy part.

Find moorage, and pay for it, before you bring the boat up here. Moorage around Vancouver is really, really tough to find, and your cost for a 33 footer will be 6K a year if you DO find it.

"Up the river" is just that - up the river! Shelter Island in the Fraser MAY be available at the cost of having to motor up against the current for four hours to get from sailing water back to your slip at the marina. That's why I'm not there.

Howe sound? Only if you "know somebody" :-) False Creek? Not a hope - five year waiting list. Reed Point? Possibly, if you don't mind being confined to Indian Arm or motoring the ENTIRE length of the harbour before you can hoist sail in English Bay. And from there it is STILL an hour under power to get to the Straits. French Harbour on Vancouver Island? A possibility if you don't mind the two hour ferry commute (with associated cost of car fare) plus another hour by car every time you want to go sailing. Ladysmith? At least a one year waiting list. And so on!

You could put you hook down in Brigade Bay. Only problem with that is that you can't GET to Brigade Bay except by boat. Or float plane.

Best to get focused on the essentials and not worry about trivialities like clearing customs and paying duties and taxes.

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Old 02-11-2016, 09:45   #11
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

Doesn't look like many answered your tide / timing questions, so I'll give them a crack...

This time of year weather is your main problem, and you'll have to keep a close eye on that and go when you have a good two day window. Even though a 30 knot southerly sounds like a fun downwind sail to Vancouver, I wouldn't do it on a new-to-me boat. Rosario Strait and the Strait of Georgia are your main places of concern.

If wind is forecast over 10, avoid areas where strong current is flowing in opposition to the wind. (I say 10 because this time of year a forecast of 15 can easily turn into 25 pretty quickly). The Strait of Georgia can kick up pretty big, steep waves.

You can find currents on Deepzoom.com for the US portion, or standard charting apps (Navionics) or paper tide/current tables. Data on currents is more valuable than tides because the current strength and switch times are hard to interpolate from tidal data unless you already have local experience doing that.

Check the Canadian buoy reports for the Strait of Georgia portion. Halibut Bank can give you an approximation of the wave state (currently it's 1.1m, aka 3.6 feet, at 4 seconds - that would not be fun) and Sand Heads lightstation can give you wind.

It's about 73 miles straightline motoring distance. Could be done in one day, but I wouldn't want to. Sunrise is about 8am now and sunset 5 or 5:30. That doesn't leave you much time. Plus the northern San Juans can make for a nice stop if the weather's nice (Lummi or Sucia area).
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Old 02-11-2016, 09:52   #12
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

If you are going to apply for fedeal registration for your vessel upon arrival I believe you do not pay any taxes just the registration fee. Dept of fisheries & registration /vessel registry will be able to confirm this is so. Be prepared for a detailed work up on the specifications on your vessel. Our current vessel is registered and all we paid was a $250.00 transfer of registration fee. A one time cost. ALL correpondence will flow in and out of Ottawa. We have never been challenged for HST.
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Old 02-11-2016, 10:06   #13
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

I've done this trip once...made it from Port Townsend to Point Roberts in a day.
I agree with earlier comments ... Ensure the wind and weather are in your favour.
Plan to catch the correct current in Rosario Strait..it will save a lot of time. I left Point Roberts marina last year. It seems likely you can 'rest' there for the night before heading to Vancouver...another day sail. But call before you set off.

Or you may decide to stay for a year in Point Roberts while you look for a Vancouver slip. (Chances are better there for a 40'..and the price is great. Its actually a great place to store your boat..and close to the islands!)

Once you get to Vancouver, report to either RVYC dock, or Fisherman's Wharf Customs Dock in False Creek...and call to check in. If worse case you cannot find a berth immediately, anchor in False Creek for 2 weeks and search around. Some slips come available from time to time ...although 40' slips are a rarity...Good luck.
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Old 02-11-2016, 10:17   #14
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

I did this 3 years ago. Checked in at Coal Harbour customs dock in downtown Vancouver. When I called in to customs it was pushing 4:00 pm. They wanted me to stay at the customs dock overnight but I had a temporary slip reserved at the Vancouver Rowing Club. I told the young lady at customs that I'd be across the bay for the night and call them the next day. She wasn't happy about that but what could she do from her office in Nova Scotia.
I ended up walking to the customs office the next day with my paperwork and paid the taxes. They weren't the least bit interested in the carefully documented list parts I'd bought in Seattle, nor the amount of wine I had.
Nobody ever asked to inspect the boat.
The taxes were a pain but I would have had to pay for Washington sales tax and annual permits anyway, so not that much different.
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Old 02-11-2016, 10:36   #15
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Re: Crossing Canadian Border with New Sailboat

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Don't overcomplicate things, and don't get ahead of your self. Given that you've decided to pay the taxes and duties, don't mess with Semiamoo or Blaine or any of the other US locations. Your problem will not be to deal with the Canadian authorities. That's the easy part.

Find moorage, and pay for it, before you bring the boat up here. Moorage around Vancouver is really, really tough to find, and your cost for a 33 footer will be 6K a year if you DO find it.

"Up the river" is just that - up the river! Shelter Island in the Fraser MAY be available at the cost of having to motor up against the current for four hours to get from sailing water back to your slip at the marina. That's why I'm not there.

Howe sound? Only if you "know somebody" :-) False Creek? Not a hope - five year waiting list. Reed Point? Possibly, if you don't mind being confined to Indian Arm or motoring the ENTIRE length of the harbour before you can hoist sail in English Bay. And from there it is STILL an hour under power to get to the Straits. French Harbour on Vancouver Island? A possibility if you don't mind the two hour ferry commute (with associated cost of car fare) plus another hour by car every time you want to go sailing. Ladysmith? At least a one year waiting list. And so on!

You could put you hook down in Brigade Bay. Only problem with that is that you can't GET to Brigade Bay except by boat. Or float plane.

Best to get focused on the essentials and not worry about trivialities like clearing customs and paying duties and taxes.

TrentePieds
Helpful thanks.

Fully aware of moorage in Vancouver, I've been researching and talking to marinas for a year. However 33ft for 6k? Seems pretty outrageous, unless perhaps you are moored at Thunderbird Marina, which is about as expensive as it gets. Already on all the lists for False Creek, although I'm not a fan. I live there already, so it would be nice to travel somewhere to get to the boat, and away from the city. Vancouver Island is out, Blaine/Pt.Roberts are out. Already ruled out Indian Arm as I like to sail and not motor. I'm thinking North Shore.

Your point about the Fraser river Shelter Island is well noted, I've contemplated the tides and all the lost time getting in and out for a sail the more I think about it is not worth the savings.

EDIT: Coal Harbour is as expensive as it gets.
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