Originally Posted by yvonne13
We recently bought a boat
in everette wa, and are trying to get it to at least ketchikan alaska
before the weather
gets bad. we are encountering a bunch of info re the customs on both sides....some say dont worry if you are in transit, others are intent on reporting. we do not have the nexus cann or enhanced id's, however we are not wanting to get off in canada...we feel we can transient thru, but what if we need fuel
, or need to escape weather
You mention 'encountering customs info...' May I recommend you ignore us all and only go by what the countries you are traveling through have to say...?
One of the best synopses for this area I've seen so far [with links to relevant government
information] is available on Clearing Customs by Boat | Canada & United States | NW
If you are US citizens [the only perspective I can provide...] with valid passports [or other acceptable documents] have no outstanding warrants in either country, and you don't plan to bring anything into Canada [or back into the US for that matter] that is illegal or on either country's restricted list, then checking in is easy and no hassle. Otherwise, you will be stopped in your tracks...
This time of year foul weather in this area does start crescendoing, but you have ample time to make a leisurely inside passage
to Ketchikan or points further north- even in winter months... However, outside waters [i.e., the Gulf of Alaska] can be treacherous any time of year, and now with the Aleutian low preparing to move back into the Gulf of Alaska, I would not advise it in a vessel your size. [Except perhaps for carefully planned short runs outside during the brief benign weather intervals.]
There is always the possibility you may get a long enough weather window to make an outside run for it this time of year, but I wouldn't count on it...
A question to ask yourself: You will be transiting world class, pristine cruising grounds... If you have the time [and it is my observation that schedules are among the most dangerous things on a boat
...] why not take some to really enjoy this area and take an inside route
? This is a bucket list item for many a cruiser...
If you always declare honesty, abide by and respect every country's rules, regulations
and laws, and you will have no hassles that travel with you... Get caught trying to fool them and you will suffer short and long term ramifications for as long as you travel just about anywhere...
Stop reading now if you don't want to read about our experiences crossing between the US and Canada.
How bad can check-in be with Canadian Customs?
Here is our worse case story to date: [This was before we had NEXUS cards- which help streamline the process when everyone on board has them...]
When we brought our current
boat into Canada for the first time in 2014, Canadian Customs went through it with a fine tooth comb [while we stood on the dock...] They later explained one reason this was done was it was the first time on their records that we and this vessel crossed as a unit. [All had visited Canada many times before that, just not as a single
unit... I think it was also because they had a new officer in training who was involved... i.e., OJT]
Our boat is a presentable 43 foot ketch
with lots of nooks and crannies, and they missed nothing. They were very polite and professional; complimented us for our organization [we had just taken possession and 'moved in' 3 weeks earlier; we hd unpacked and stowed 33- 18 gallon plastic tubs full of our live-aboard possessions...] They also sincerely apologized for not being able to properly repack and close the waterproof ditch bags, a couple of first aid kits, and a few other items like that.
They also discovered among our 5 [declared] bottles of Bear Spray one that came with the boat that wasn't labeled "Bear Spray"- it said "Personal Protection" with a bear on the label instead.
We voluntarily relinquished possession of that canister to the Canadian Customs Agent and signed the ensuing paperwork [in triplicate...]
Side note: Of course we always check what is on the prohibited items list before checking into any country. And back then as well as today, Bear Spray is legal
to bring into Canada and the US, but we learned it must absolutely be factory labeled "Bear Spray." As the Customs Agent told us; 'I know it is from the same manufacturer, has the same formula, has a picture of a bear on the label, and has the same logo and instructions as the other cans of Bear Spray, but it isn''t labeled Bear Spray
All that took less than 2 hours and we were on our way without a blemish on our record
... [And please don't take the story as anything more than sharing an experience we had. We are not complaining...]
Ironically, when sharing this Bear Spray story with the former owners of our boat [now lifetime friends] they mentioned that can of Bear Spray had been in and out of Canada several times with them before we bought the boat, and they had no idea either...
This reinforces that we are subject to the interpretations of those we are dealing with...
What is the most difficult aspect of going back and forth between countries?
For me the answer is meal planning. Given the nature of a cruising sailboat and timing, it can be difficult to plan things out so food
items not allowed into one country are consumed while they can be, and to make sure you don't run out prematurely... [I have yet to see floating markets in this region...] This works crossing both ways with regards to the US and Canada... [e.g., always hard boil any remaining eggs before crossing, cook and/or eat forbidden proteins, plan to shop soon after crossing, etc.]
I wish you a safe and uneventful passage