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Old 16-09-2020, 12:19   #1
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Sailing St. Lawrence Seaway - Border Issues?

Next spring, I'm planning to move my sailboat to Prescott Ontario, opposite Ogdensburg NY on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Today it's blowing a good 15+ knots from the SW, straight downriver. I have no problem with tacking upwind to the thousand islands, but my question is: as a Canadian licensed sailboat, if we happen to occasionally cross the line (the Intl. border), while in transit upriver, would that draw unwanted attention (like boarding!) from the US authorities.

This would be strictly in-transit sailing and I'd leave my class B AIS xmit on at all times, mostly for benefit of ship traffic in the channel. I'm well aware of the requirement to clear into USA before anchoring or docking there, using ROAM app for example.

Anyone with first hand experience on the US-Canada border, from the perspective of Canadian citizens sailing on the Seaway - I would appreciate your input. Thanks!
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Old 29-09-2020, 10:28   #2
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Re: Sailing St. Lawrence Seaway - Border Issues?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawanaga View Post
Next spring, I'm planning to move my sailboat to Prescott Ontario, opposite Ogdensburg NY on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Today it's blowing a good 15+ knots from the SW, straight downriver. I have no problem with tacking upwind to the thousand islands, but my question is: as a Canadian licensed sailboat, if we happen to occasionally cross the line (the Intl. border), while in transit upriver, would that draw unwanted attention (like boarding!) from the US authorities.

This would be strictly in-transit sailing and I'd leave my class B AIS xmit on at all times, mostly for benefit of ship traffic in the channel. I'm well aware of the requirement to clear into USA before anchoring or docking there, using ROAM app for example.

Anyone with first hand experience on the US-Canada border, from the perspective of Canadian citizens sailing on the Seaway - I would appreciate your input. Thanks!

If you don't drop the anchor, there's no problem.


The St. Lawrence seaway crosses the border back and forth multiple times.
The two locks Eisenhower and Snell are on US territory but they accept CAD $ for payment.
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Old 29-09-2020, 11:12   #3
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Re: Sailing St. Lawrence Seaway - Border Issues?

I think it will depend on the COVID-19 precautions that are in effect then. You don't say where you're starting from, but as previously said some of the locks are on the US side. There are rules in place, for small vessels and covid restrictions (currently) - best to check on the latest prior to departure. We boated around the 1000 Islands this summer and were warned against straying into US waters at all. Second-hand account that a boat went to do a touristy pass of Boldt castle, got pulled over by US CBP, given the rubber-glove treatment and a fine. As they were leaving the officer said "oh yeah it was your (Canadian) customs that tipped us off." On crossing back to Canadian water, boarded by our customs, fined again and given an order to quarantine for 14 days. Moral of the story is do your homework, and follow the rules.
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Old 30-09-2020, 12:38   #4
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Re: Sailing St. Lawrence Seaway - Border Issues?

It seems that in some cases COVID restrictions were invoked as a reason to intercept boats in-transit, but on the "wrong side" of the border. Hopefully once the pandemic is over, things will revert to a more tolerant approach on the seaway towards boats which are obviously in-transit, rather than sightseeing.
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