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Armchairsailor2 10-19-2011 09:49 AM

Pros and cons of cross-border boat keeping
Here's another one. I notice that quite a few canucks keep their boats across the border. This is something I was thinking of, since my base will probably be Abbotsford/ Langley and it would seem that some US marinas may be equidistant for me whilst offering considerably lower moorage rates.

Is crossing the border on a regular basis going to be a PITA or is it pretty painless? What about any regulations that you have to satisfy - are there any?


Faster 10-19-2011 10:21 AM

Several people we know have recently moved south... mostly on the purchase of a larger boat. Moorage seems easier to find there, and is much less expensive. The border crossings are manageable as long as you don't need to go at peak times, when waits can be hours long. A "Nexus" pass expedites the crossing/clearance and is not expensive, ($50 for 5 years, I think) but at peak times it can still take a while to get into the Nexux lineup.. I've also noticed recently that at times the Nexus wait can be longer than the regular (but rarely).

The marinas are better quality as a rule, and the drive times from the Fraser Valley are in fact better to Blaine/Bellingham/Pt Roberts than Vancouver's preferred marinas (border delays aside)

The downside is having to deal with customs on the boat when you want to cruise Canadian waters.. fact is most of the Canadians who keep their boats there tend to cruise the San Juans, esp on short weekend trips. As a cruising destination/area the San Juans are lovely, and quite different in some ways from the Canadian islands but you will contend with very chilly waters (if you're into swimming) and generally stronger currents on a day-to-day basis in that area. OTOH it can be quite a short hop to the Gulf Islands from say, Pt Roberts marina, compared to from Vancouver.

So far our friends that have moved down seem quite content with the situation.

FDR14127 10-19-2011 12:53 PM

Well here in Buffalo we live "on the border" and have routinely ventured into Canada for lunch, sailing, bread, back bacon, wine, etc. Likewise Canadians come downtown to shop, attend Bills and Sabre's games etc. So the traffic on the bridges can at times be long and painful. We in general have a 100 yr border history (remember the War of 1812) and refuse to be put off by the recent terrorist theater. So you should have 1) a Passport 2) an enhanced drivers license 3) a Nexus pass. Each on a given day has a targeted use. A Nexus pass gets you a quick lane at the border and a 'b' number for your boat. (In case you stray from US waters into Canadian, you are 'supposed' to report to CANPASS with this number). If you don't land or tie up the 'Mericans don't care. Since you are severely restricted on imported goods with Nexus you can use the enhanced driver's license to speed entry on the regular lanes, I don't know if this programs is implemented in the west. Finally if all else fails produce a passport. Yes it is a PITA but we have hired all these folks and they are out to prove the necessity or they might loose their jobs. So far to my knowledge the only terrorist caught so far was collared by a stewardess on Northwest on the way into Detroit. She wasn't wearing combat boots nor packing a gun. Oh well.

Armchairsailor2 10-19-2011 06:13 PM

Wow - not the sort of information I expected to get at all, but a lot more illuminating. Thanks!

Looks like I won't be getting an enhanced licence unless I convert to Canadian citizenship - permanent residency doesn't seem to cut it. Likewise, a Nexus card requires 3 years of residency within Canada before you can apply - hmm. Looks like the normal queue for me for now... (Note to self - get one of those fat passports)

blt2ski 10-19-2011 07:24 PM

Not sure about Canada, but Wa st does have the enhance license talked about earlier. but that will not do the OP much good! Having a passport would be the BEST option frankly.

The how and if it makes will have to figure that out base on what will assume at this time is UK citizenship, vs Ca to US. that could or could not add some time at least coming this way, ie south, going north, not sure about, lways seems easier to get into canada for us US folks. Getting back into our country of birth/citizenship....nuther story/ball game......but that would bring some politics into the matter!


PaulfromNWOnt 10-19-2011 11:08 PM

I'm a Canadian living in Canada, and sailing on a lake that straddles the border.

An I-68 form, or a Nexus card will facilitate entry into the US by boat from Canada. Think of it as a restricted pre-approval for entry in uncontrolled areas. You are still required to "call in", but the process is much more streamlined.

An RABC (Remote Access Border Crossing) is the same idea for crossing into Canada from the US. The main difference being that if you aren't bringing anything into the country then you don't have to check in. BE ADVISED: If you get caught bringing something in without declaration they can get a might twitchy.

Overall, I've found the process of going from one side to the other by boat to be quite painless from a customs perspective, and quite liberating from a cruising perspective.

Edit: I should add that cost wise the Nexus card is cheaper than the I-68, but as of the end of this summer season it didn't work coming into Canada.

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