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Old 30-05-2015, 10:25   #16
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Are I68 forms from US still available for Canadians regularly clearing into the US.
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Old 30-05-2015, 10:51   #17
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

After reading more and more of this crap, all the threats of boat confiscation and such, when you do the long term standard and safe practice of anchor, stay on the boat, and fly the Q flag and wait till morning, I am beginning to wonder if I really do want to sail around the world just to see the world. I have been working on getting a boat ready to circumnavigate for many years, and starting to realize that it seems the scum in the world tends to congregate close to the shore in offices of power where the people they rule over have none. What I would really like to find out is what countries really want somebody to visit and spend their money on travel and entertainment inside the country, instead of all this grab and extort as much money as they can before you get in the door and treat you like a common criminal in the process.
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Old 30-05-2015, 11:10   #18
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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Originally Posted by Moontide View Post
Mike - Does that mean that you cannot drink on a boat in Canada that is underway?
Yes, as I understand the law. It's treated just like a land vehicle, so I guess you can have up to the legal blood alcohol level, and you can't have open liquor. But once you're affixed to land a cruising boat is OK.

Interestingly, I think I've read that in some US states you can't even drink at anchor ... at least, not legally. Perhaps others can chime on this (or maybe we need a new thread).

As far as I know the I68, CANPASS and NEXUS programs are still in place. I've never enrolled b/c I'm disinclined to give the US or Canadian governments any additional information than absolutely required.
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Old 30-05-2015, 11:46   #19
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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Originally Posted by jheldatksuedu View Post
After reading more and more of this crap, all the threats of boat confiscation and such, when you do the long term standard and safe practice of anchor, stay on the boat, and fly the Q flag and wait till morning, I am beginning to wonder if I really do want to sail around the world just to see the world. I have been working on getting a boat ready to circumnavigate for many years, and starting to realize that it seems the scum in the world tends to congregate close to the shore in offices of power where the people they rule over have none. What I would really like to find out is what countries really want somebody to visit and spend their money on travel and entertainment inside the country, instead of all this grab and extort as much money as they can before you get in the door and treat you like a common criminal in the process.
Whoa, that's a way over statement. If you play by the rules and are polite & respectful to the officials you are unlikely to have any issues. I never have.

I think a lot of the stories of unjustified impoundment etc, usually self servingly omit a few key facts.
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Old 30-05-2015, 12:23   #20
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Mike,

Come over to the Mediterranean... no hassles.

In North America, the authorities only seem to hassle their own citizens and not the illegals who aren't support to be there. It's all bass-ackwards.
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Old 30-05-2015, 12:27   #21
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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I am a Canadian and currently do not have a Nexus card. When sailing, time lines tend to go out the window. Suppose you arrive at a customs dock in need of clearing in but it is after hours. Since you can't anchor or tie to shore, what are you supposed to do? Do you just sort of float around all night without anchoring?
Suppose I have a Nexus card but either no cell or satelite phone. Can I use my HF radio and WLO to make a ship to shore call and check in that way? Have cell phones become mandatory for a traveler thes days ?
BTW, I do have a cell phoe but apparently it does not allow roaming and I can't use it to call the US customs office.
It's pretty clear the OP is asking about clearing into the US, so answers about Trinidad, Tonga and Tahiti are probably not too helpful.

The unusual part about this question is like one from a skipper from Washington State just last week asking about how to clear into Canada.

Both of them live within 25 miles of the other country and have boats.

It's not like they're unaware of the others country's existence and great boating destinations.

Each country's customs have extensive, and probably equally hard to decipher, websites. Although Canada is reportedly a lot easier to deal with.

But each must have dock neighbors, friends, club members, etc., who travel between the two countries by boat on a regular basis. And who have been delayed by weather, since no one with a sailboat has ever made a passage "on time." It's not the French railway system for goodness sakes.

I DO know, from reading this and many other boating forums, that using FRIDAY HARBOR to clear in is the worst possible choice that a Canadian traveling to the San Juans can possibly make. The US Customs officer(s) there are rude, boorish, and just plain nasty. True representatives of our lovely country: NOT!

Disclaimer: I travel regularly between California and Vancouver Island on family visits. We wait forever at the Blaine crossing heading north, watching the NEXUS folks sail by like being in a HOV lane. We take the Port Angeles ferry out of Victoria (where the OP comes from!) to avoid the Blaine border crossing coming home. Sure, I'm not using my boat, but we've learned to avoid the crowds and "work the system."

If I was a Canadian and was traveling on my own boat to the States, I'd learn everything I could about how to cross and ENTER and figure out whether it made sense to get a NEXUS card to make it easy as possible. If I needed a phone, I'd get one that worked.

Sorry for the rant, folks, but it's not like this was the first skipper who wanted to sail south from Canada Post-911. Our government has made it difficult and burdensome for our friends from the North to come visit. This true in the PNW as well as back east (Lake Ontario to NY State for those going to Florida, for example; wait! Canadians in Florida, who woulda thunk?!? ).

But it's still the skipper's responsibility to plan ahead and have a fallback if things take longer than they should.

I, too, would be interested in the specific answer to his question, though. What do you do if you come in late and have no comms? That's the real question, and is valid, 'cuz what happens, for example, if you're sailing across Lake Ontario and you get hit by lightning?

That would be a really helpful answer.

Having no comms after being "prepared" and reading the US Customs website is simply not.

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Old 30-05-2015, 14:30   #22
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

The title of the post is "in a new country after hours" not "in the U.S. after hours", my assumption was the poster is looking for information in general for places around the world as an exploratory question about the process in general rather than specifically the U.S. only. Though it was clear the first stop would be U.S. I didn't take that to limit the response.

Having only cleared into the U.S. in the USVI from the BVI's I can't offer much help on coming in from Canada, I haven't the faintest idea what a NEXUS card is. I only answered the question I thought was asked.

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
It's pretty clear the OP is asking about clearing into the US, so answers about Trinidad, Tonga and Tahiti are probably not too helpful.

The unusual part about this question is like one from a skipper from Washington State just last week asking about how to clear into Canada.

Both of them live within 25 miles of the other country and have boats.

It's not like they're unaware of the others country's existence and great boating destinations.

Each country's customs have extensive, and probably equally hard to decipher, websites. Although Canada is reportedly a lot easier to deal with.

But each must have dock neighbors, friends, club members, etc., who travel between the two countries by boat on a regular basis. And who have been delayed by weather, since no one with a sailboat has ever made a passage "on time." It's not the French railway system for goodness sakes.

I DO know, from reading this and many other boating forums, that using FRIDAY HARBOR to clear in is the worst possible choice that a Canadian traveling to the San Juans can possibly make. The US Customs officer(s) there are rude, boorish, and just plain nasty. True representatives of our lovely country: NOT!

Disclaimer: I travel regularly between California and Vancouver Island on family visits. We wait forever at the Blaine crossing heading north, watching the NEXUS folks sail by like being in a HOV lane. We take the Port Angeles ferry out of Victoria (where the OP comes from!) to avoid the Blaine border crossing coming home. Sure, I'm not using my boat, but we've learned to avoid the crowds and "work the system."

If I was a Canadian and was traveling on my own boat to the States, I'd learn everything I could about how to cross and ENTER and figure out whether it made sense to get a NEXUS card to make it easy as possible. If I needed a phone, I'd get one that worked.

Sorry for the rant, folks, but it's not like this was the first skipper who wanted to sail south from Canada Post-911. Our government has made it difficult and burdensome for our friends from the North to come visit. This true in the PNW as well as back east (Lake Ontario to NY State for those going to Florida, for example; wait! Canadians in Florida, who woulda thunk?!? ).

But it's still the skipper's responsibility to plan ahead and have a fallback if things take longer than they should.

I, too, would be interested in the specific answer to his question, though. What do you do if you come in late and have no comms? That's the real question, and is valid, 'cuz what happens, for example, if you're sailing across Lake Ontario and you get hit by lightning?

That would be a really helpful answer.

Having no comms after being "prepared" and reading the US Customs website is simply not.

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Old 30-05-2015, 14:47   #23
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
I, too, would be interested in the specific answer to his question, though. What do you do if you come in late and have no comms? That's the real question, and is valid, 'cuz what happens, for example, if you're sailing across Lake Ontario and you get hit by lightning?

That would be a really helpful answer.
I can provide two specific official answers.

#1 in both Canada and the USA they expect you to contact them immediately upon anchoring. The "standard practice" of anchoring, flying the Q flag, and waiting until morning is considered an illegal entry.

#2 if you do not have comms on board, you (captain only) are expected to go ashore and use a pay phone. In Canada there are in fact pay phones with clear instructions at all the official entry points. In the U.S. it is less systematic/consistent.

Note: in Roche and Friday Harbour I was told it was an illegal entry to anchor at all, even if you immediately contacted them, that you had to bring your boat to their dock. But that seems to be a local rule and not an 'official interpretation".
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Old 30-05-2015, 14:49   #24
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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Originally Posted by jheldatksuedu View Post
After reading more and more of this crap, all the threats of boat confiscation and such, when you do the long term standard and safe practice of anchor, stay on the boat, and fly the Q flag and wait till morning, I am beginning to wonder if I really do want to sail around the world just to see the world. I have been working on getting a boat ready to circumnavigate for many years, and starting to realize that it seems the scum in the world tends to congregate close to the shore in offices of power where the people they rule over have none. What I would really like to find out is what countries really want somebody to visit and spend their money on travel and entertainment inside the country, instead of all this grab and extort as much money as they can before you get in the door and treat you like a common criminal in the process.
If you follow the rules and are polite and courteous its really not a problem, and is WELL worth it. Most clearances take no more than an hour or two and require no excessive paperwork of large expenses and are quite painless. The worst clearances we've had (Panama and Fiji) were annoying because they involved a lot of running around from government agency to government agency, and in Panama we did it to ourselves. In the countries that make you go to multiple places most of them have Immigration and Customs offices withing line of sight of each other. Only a few countries really seem to be trying to milk you of cash, and in some cases like the Galapagos...they can get away with it because it is worth paying for; truthfully I don't begrudge helping pay for the conservation there. Only a couple of places like Anguilla make it expensive because it seems they don't want you there, but the C&I people are still really nice, its another department that hammers you for the insane cruising permit charges.

One thing to be aware of too is that what many of these countries care about is shipping, cruisers are almost incidental in some of them. Your little boat is being shoehorned into a process designed for larger ships, and sometimes it is really evident when a country has not taken any steps to accommodate cruisers with sensible fees or special procedures for small boats that don't carry cargo or lots of hired crew.

We also know a couple of cruisers that, unfortunately, feel it is their privelige to play fast and loose with the laws of the country they are guests in. THIS is the cause of the many problems, and my guess is behind some of the horror stories you hear of people arrests, impounds, etc.. I am guessing that, as another poster suggested, we aren't getting the whole story all the time. Most places are welcoming and friendly though a few are a bit too caught up in their red tape. If you are polite, well informaed and you've done your homework the least friendly reception you might get is bureaucratic indifference. We've never gotten hostility, demands for bribes or corruption. We have gotten many smiles, welcomes and hellos (Nicest clearance people - Bequia!).

The trick is to educate yourself before you leave port for the next country so you don't show up in a country in hot water the second you get there. Some places like NZ and Fiji require advance notice of arrivals and a form filled out no less than 48 hours before you arrive - not so easy to do off shore. If you fill the form out, scan it and e-mail it off before you set sail for those places it is a non issue when you arrive. Some require more advance planning or the use of an agent (e.g. the Galapagos), so you have to do some groundwork before you leave.

Taking some time to research the rules, regulations and customs of your destination while you still have a good internet connection at your current location makes a huge difference.

Every new country starts with a visit to Noonsite, and to the country's Customs & Immigration information pages.
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Old 30-05-2015, 15:10   #25
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

We have observed over the years that it is always the same people who have problems with clearing in (and sometimes clearing out, as well). Perhaps they are the ones who have trouble with any authority figures in general, or think they're superior to everyone else.

I'll reiterate, though, that informing yourself beforehand, even if it involves a long distance phone call, communicating with Customs prior to leaving about how they expect you to handle the situation if you will not arrive when expected will take care of the problem. You will then be obliged to follow whatever practice they choose. Some prefer that you not anchor out, even with the Q flag displayed; some give you permission for it; sometimes you have to slow down the boat and continue sailing dill daylight the next day. It is only a problem if you make it one: don't sweat the small things.

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Old 30-05-2015, 15:24   #26
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

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Come over to the Mediterranean... no hassles.

In North America, the authorities only seem to hassle their own citizens and not the illegals who aren't support to be there. It's all bass-ackwards.
Thanks Ken, maybe we'll make it over there some day, although I'm not sure I can afford the Med. All seems too pricey for the likes of this $500/month sailor .

But just to be clear, I wasn't really complaining about over-reach of Canadian or American authorities. I was just relaying my relevant experience. I do lament the loss of reason or balance that our Canadian/American border services seemed to once have. But when I visit a foreign land I do so as a guest. It is a privilege, not a right. I respect the laws of their land, and do my best to educate myself before hand.

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...I, too, would be interested in the specific answer to his question, though. What do you do if you come in late and have no comms? That's the real question, and is valid, 'cuz what happens, for example, if you're sailing across Lake Ontario and you get hit by lightning?
This is what I was trying to get at when I relayed my anecdote Stu. We faced a situation where we had no phone comms (no cell service), and no way to reach the designated CBSA clearing-in dock. It was actually closed at the time -- not for the night, but closed due to marina work. There was no option but to anchor, and then make special arrangements the next day. When we finally made phone contact I was chastised and informed that our boat could be seized. I don't honestly think the officer was actually threatening to do this, but he made it clear this was possible. The same happened in reverse to a buddy when he was going to the USA from the North Channel.

In pre-9/11 days none of this was an issue. People on both sides would routinely cross the Great Lakes border, and would clear in when they were able. No one got bet out of shape if you anchored a few days before making it in. No one panicked or went to DEFCON 1 if you were a few days late. All that has changed as we've succumbed to fear of our own shadows (shadows look like burqas after all ).
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Old 30-05-2015, 15:56   #27
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Re: What to do if you arrive in a new country after hours

Thank you all very much for posting your thoughts. I am now back on Canadian soil. I have learned an awful lot from both the situation I found myself in as well as from the comments here.
It's interesting to note that the marina in Port Townsend I was ordered to for clearing actually advertises the fact that they have a 'customs dock'. It's actually a fuel dock. What they don't tell you is that it's not a regular port of entry customs dock. In retrospect I can easily see them advertising the customs dock but it would be nice if they said something about the fact that you can't just show up.
The officer in Port Townsend was very friendly once he realized that this was an honest mistake.
The other thing that is interesting is both Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor have a real customs dock and you just show up (during business hours) as I had intended to do in Port Townsend. Both Roche and Friday Harbour would have been open had I arrived there at the same time of day.
Funny thing, the officer at Port Townsend didn't ask me any of the normal 'what are you bringing' type questions whereas when I cleared back into Canada I had to answer a whole bunch of questions.
Throughout all this, I was treated well and with respect.
Both Canadian and US customs found it hard to believe that I had owned the boat for 4 (?) years and had never taken it to the US. They both questioned me on that
Oh, last but not least, I always assumed that most anything could be clarified by the coast guard. Apparently that is not the case - they don't talk to each other I was well off shore when I asked the cost guard where the customs dock was in Port Townsend. They directed me to a park that had no docking facilities. They could have easily said that Port Townsend does not offer a 'point of entry' customs port and I would have simply turned around and headed back where I came from. The Coast Guard did eventually come through in helping me to clear in but it sure wasn't something that they normaly do and are knowledgeable about.

One last tidbit before I go back to lurking mode .... I hit 9 knots (!!!) while sailing from Roche back To Sidney. I am normally quite happy when I do around 6 knots and exstatic when I hit 7 knots. Short of riding down a wave, I had no idea that this was even possible. Of course the autopilot was useless in those conditions but it was an absolutely awesome ride !

What a trip !
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