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Old 22-11-2013, 12:50   #1
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Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

When entering US waters in SE Alaska is the only option to head straight to Ketchikan from Prince Rupert to clear US customs? It seems a long way (70 plus nautical miles) to go. There must be an easier way. What happens if you are going by kayak. Obviously one can not be expected to paddle that far without stopping.
I am sure there is a simple solution but it is not obvious by looking through the CBP site.
Thanks
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Old 23-11-2013, 09:09   #2
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

The shortest route from PR to KTN is actually about 83 nm. Hugging the coast closer you can plan on up to about 107 nm.

Brundige Inlet, Dundas Island, on the Canadian side is a good protected anchorage.

A common stopover on the US side is Foggy Bay. Other anchorages along the way include: Wales Harbour SW Arm, Winter Inlet, and Nakat Harbor Baidarka Arm.

US Customs would prefer that you call ahead of time if you will be stopping on the US side before reaching Ketchikan. Similarly, on the way back south, call BC Customs ahead of time if you plan to stop in BC before reaching Prince Rupert.

An excellent source of info on anchorages is Exploring Southeast Alaska, by Douglass.
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Old 25-11-2013, 11:37   #3
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

If you jump through the hoops for a NEXUS pass you can just phone in when or slightly before you cross... although phone service may be spotty up there.
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Old 25-11-2013, 15:28   #4
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Yes, trying to get a Nexus pass but as you say, lots of hoops to jump through. We have an appointment with DHS at Boeing Field in December. Wish us luck!
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Old 25-11-2013, 22:16   #5
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Rupert has been my Home Port for 30 years, the customs on both sides are easily to deal with when you are up front. Sound advice above. If you do not want to jump from Rupert 20 miles North is Port Simpson (Lax Kwalaams) has a small harbour.
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Old 26-11-2013, 05:24   #6
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Thank you North Pacific. I was just wondering the generally accepted protocols going north since it is a bit of a stretch for sailboats and worse for a kayaker. There seems to be many anchorages on each side of the border. As long as the US and Canadians to get upset about landfall without checkin, all is good.

It seems that as long as they know you are coming they will be more relaxed about it.

Does anyone know if there are any AIS receiver stations along the way that would allow the officials to track progress of certain vessels. As someone mentioned before cell coverage is probably very spotty at best, VHF too far, HF a big maybe. Perhaps SAT phone is the only sure way to convey position? But is a pricey solution.
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Old 26-11-2013, 07:31   #7
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Quote:
Originally Posted by northwestsailor View Post
As someone mentioned before cell coverage is probably very spotty at best, VHF too far, HF a big maybe. Perhaps SAT phone is the only sure way to convey position? But is a pricey solution.
Cell service may be better than you think. I have often made or received a call right in the middle of the Dixon Entrance (and many seemingly remote places in SE Alaska). Service is spottier along the BC coast, especially north of Port Hardy. We use AT&T, or Roberts in BC.

VHF to the coast guard works pretty well in most locations - antennas are up on the mountains. You should be able to check in on the VHF, as long as you haven't already ducked in to a very sheltered anchorage.
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Old 26-11-2013, 07:56   #8
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Richard, thank you for the useful tips. Nothing like local knowledge. Unfortunately we are on Verizon but interested to hear ATT does so well up there. Normally ATT skips the rural areas. They like to go where the money is
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Old 26-11-2013, 11:11   #9
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Smile Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

prince Rupert has its own cell coverage, called city west. Rogers also has a service here. Cell coverage is spotty and on much of the northern BC coast non existent. The Coast Guard on both sides of the Border have very powerful VHF systems. I can talk to Alaskan CG from Prince Rupert and visa versa.

Dixon Entrance can be lumpy but it is a well trodden path. had friends kayak the coast they pulled in where ever. Again as long as the coast gaurd know your plans they will inform you of what is OK.

Hundreds of boats do this trip every yea,r so do not sweat this, great scenery you will enjoy.
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Old 26-11-2013, 15:23   #10
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Thanks North Pacific for your insights and experience. I knew there had to be an easy way but just could not put my finger on it. Nothing on the CBP.gov site is any help at all.
Yes, I am sure it is a parade going up there early summer. We want to start early so we can see as much as possible without the crowds. But then again we tend to favor the out of the way places so perhaps there will not be an issue with crowds. Time will tell.
Thanks again.
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Old 26-11-2013, 16:38   #11
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Hi NWS,

US locals think that the "inside passage" is crowded. It is not once past Campbell river, the world starts to slow down. Once Past Port Hardy you are in a different time warp. There are many ways to travel the coast, turn left at place and you will loose the few traveling boats out there.

I was trying to encourage not demean, so if I sounded like a nowit all I am not. If I can be of any help let us know.

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Old 26-11-2013, 18:13   #12
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

HI Steve,
I am familiar with parts of the Inside Passage. Did Princess Louisa Inlet to Chatterbox a few years ago. Also have been up the West Coast of Vancouver I. I love it and will love the rest even more I am sure.
Thank you for your words of encouragement. No one knows it all but it nice to hear from those with previous experience like yourself. That is why these forums are so interesting. We can share our knowledge and experience and wit with those wanting to understand more.
Thanks again,
Victor
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Old 27-11-2013, 01:52   #13
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

NWS,
Have been crossing the border in the San Juans/Victoria area by private vessels yearly since the mid-80's. After 9/11, it seems CBP on both sides go out of their way to make changes nearly every year. Within the last month we did our first Prince Rupert-Ketchikan-Prince Rupert crossings. We phoned from PR, was highly encouraged to make Foggy Bay our US landfall/overnight stop. Received a verbal clearance number and told to call when we arrived Ketchikan. Next morning two CBP officers arrived at the boat, verified our valid CBP sticker, checked our Passports and cleared us. On our return, Canadian CBP was cleared via phone to Ottawa. Now we were probably one of less than 10 pleasure boats to make this crossing in late October! Your experience may vary.

Our dealings at the south end have never been without complications on one side or the other.

Going north we had pretty consistent cell service from Fox Island north. BC was nearly non existent. Which was fine by me; maybe life should be that way?
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Old 27-11-2013, 05:17   #14
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

Thank you japarker11 for that recent border crossing experience. That is all good news and consistent with other reports that CBP is aware that it is too much distance to make in one day unless you have a fast motor boat but that is not what Alaska is all about.

Good to hear about cell service too but I won't tell my wife

BTW did you make the last trip in your Nordic 44?
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Old 28-11-2013, 02:39   #15
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Re: Entering Alaskan Waters from BC

NWS, Yes it was our "shakedown" cruise after purchasing the Nordic in January and doing some minor upgrades/maintenance. We left the first week of September, returning the first week of November. It was a fantastic itinerary in a time of the year no one else goes. We enjoyed it so much and realized the vastness that we had only scratched. Next year we want to get an earlier start and approach it from the north by way of Hawaii, utilizing the North Pacific high.

BTW, we, too, are homeported two hundred miles south of JH.
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