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Old 06-04-2014, 21:18   #1
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Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

I would like to 'test the waters' so to speak. I have never taken my boat out of Canada and I want to give that a try. I would like to pop over to the USA, go through the procedures, whatever they are, maybe stay overnight and then come back to Canada and do the customs thing there. Roche harbour seems to be the closest but that is apparently only in operation during the summer (whatever dates that might be).
Is there a close port of entry to Sidney or would it be a case of going all the way to Seattle (in which case my test can wait til summer)?
As a side question, what is the procedure if you were going all the way to Seattle which would be a two day trip for me with an overnight stop somewhere in US waters. Do I call the US Coast Guard on Ch 16 and tell them what I intend to do and they would give me permission to sail all the way to Seattle with an overnight stay? Does one fly the Q flag the moment one crosses the border ?
We have three days of gorgeous weather coming up .... can't wait to play
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:18   #2
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Roche Harbor is the closest US port of entry to Sidney.

No need for a Q flag.

You cannot do an overnight stop without clearing.

You also need to get a cruising permit.
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:24   #3
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Doesn't Port Angeles or Port Townsend have US Customs and Immigration offices? Maybe they have now closed... it has been a while. Phile
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:31   #4
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Customs page says Roche Harbor, Friday Harbor, Anacortes, Pt. Roberts and Pt. Angeles are ports of Entry in this area. Friday Harbor is not that much farther than Roche.

Puget Sound/Northeastern Washington | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Noonsite says there are winter hours at Roche, but to call ahead. I'd call Friday Harbor before you start your trip to make sure any of this info is up to date

http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/USA/SanJuanIslands

Customs (Roche Harbor)
Tel:+1 360-378-2080.
Winter hours for U.S. Customs are: Wednesday thru Sunday 09:00 - 17:00
Summer hours are: Every day 08:00 - 20:00
It is very important that you call ahead to confirm an agent will be present by calling the Friday Harbor Office at 360-378-2080 before your arrival - any time of the year!
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:32   #5
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Point Roberts and Friday Harbor are also ports of entry on the US side. JD1 if you have a Nexus card you can call in from the boat on cell phone.
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:36   #6
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

I checked in at Port Angeles in July, coming down from Sidney. Easy, peasy, but Roche Harbor is much closer. It is, or was, closed during the off season, but Friday Harbor is only a few hours away.

Edited to say you have to be quick to get your two cents in...
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Old 06-04-2014, 22:58   #7
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

If Roche is closed is there not a phone on the dock to clear in like Poets Cove etc?
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Old 07-04-2014, 01:17   #8
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Jd1,
If its a test you want, it will be a test you will get if you choose Roche Harbor and clear back through your homeland at Bedwell!
It seems these two stations are in a contest to be the most insulting, boot jack tough bunch on the US-Canada border. One seems bent on retaliating against the other for the gall of the Americans for requiring passports for border crossings. From personal experience of the last two years, each crossing involving each of these entry ports has been four hours of accusation and innuendo filled interrogations.

In the same time frame clearances at Victoria, Sydney and Friday Harbor were a breeze.
In the case of Roche, I am completely dumbfound as the personnel is largely the same as FHA.
Let us know your experiences.
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Old 07-04-2014, 05:35   #9
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Sounds rough out on the left coast. I have cleared into the US and Canada at many locations on Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario with no difficulty. No cruising permit is required, and no Q flag is required. A Customs decal is needed ($25) on any recreational aircraft or vessel to enter the US. You don't need to enter at a designated "Port of Entry" if you carry a Nexus card or I-68. Just call US or Canadian Customs and enter at your port of choice.
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Old 07-04-2014, 06:09   #10
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

I have cleared at Sidney and Friday Harbor. It is only a few more miles than Roche, but the grapevine says the people are much nicer. I have had my boat cleared there by some charterers, they said they were given a hard time. I would go down to Friday and enjoy the better restaurants, groceries and fish market. Plus it is so easy- The first big dock in Friday Harbor is the customs dock, just pull up and have a chat.
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Old 07-04-2014, 06:55   #11
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Is there a requirement to clear at the first possible opportunity? In other words, can I sail past Roche to Friday Harbour without getting into trouble ?

Thanks for all the great information!
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Old 07-04-2014, 07:31   #12
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

As long as you don't set foot on US soil you can sail from Victoria to San Diego without clearing in. I'm not saying I'd recommend that but them's the rules.

Personally I've never had any particular difficulty at Roche and we have definitely cleared in there in the winter. I don't however have any difficulty believing that they are perfectly capable of being supreme a-holes if the mood strikes them, as any of them are. One thing to remember above all else at any border crossing - your day can go completely to hell on a moment's notice for no reason whatsoever, it entirely depends on what kind of a day the official in front of you is having. And when that happens you have exactly zero rights.

Our favorite left coast entry point is Port Angeles and we have always returned to Sidney.

Make sure you have all your papers in order - proof of ownership, Canadian registration, passports. And you'll need to buy a US decal for about $25. You can buy them online but I don't think there is any particular advantage to doing that and it may in fact make your clearing in easier if you DO NOT have a decal. The reason I say that is that Customs officials are fundamentally bureaucrats and bureaucrats need some bureaucracy to deal with. Give them a chance to sell you a decal and they may very well be happy with that. Already got the decal? Well they may just decide to look for some other bureaucratic tangle to involve you in.
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Old 07-04-2014, 08:27   #13
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobofthenorth View Post
As long as you don't set foot on US soil you can sail from Victoria to San Diego without clearing in. I'm not saying I'd recommend that but them's the rules.
Set foot, or anchor.
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Old 07-04-2014, 08:43   #14
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

JD: I go past Roche all the time to clear in at Friday. The customs guys have a nice little office on the pier at Friday. That might be why they are in a better mood. I do not fight the system, I just work with in it. One officer having a bad day can make a big difference. The worst I have been treated is at airports and car crossings BTW. If you can handle those, this should be easy.
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Old 07-04-2014, 14:43   #15
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Re: Closest USA customs port of Entry to Sidney, BC, Canada

Surprised to read about difficulties at Roche or Bedwell. There was one time at Roche that my wife was chewed out when she hopped off the boat and came into the office with me before we had cleared, but usually they have been sweet.... though, like Newt, I prefer docking at Friday Harbor. Happy, chatty folks. Point Roberts is ok, too.
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