Customs the Gulf Islands

Oh Canada!

Thursday, June 17, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

Poet's Cove Resort in Bedwell Harbour.

This morning, with papers in hand, we untied from the mooring and motored north to South Pender Island in Canada. We hadn't been across the border for more than ten minutes when a Canadian Border Services inflatable came speeding up behind and startled us both. Our VHF radio wasn't on, and they were likely trying to hail us and became concerned when we didn't respond. David went down below and grabbed the handheld so they could ask us a few questions: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? And said, we may see you at the dock.

Once we arrived in Bedwell Harbour, we tied up to the custom's dock to check in. David brought all of our paper work up to the kiosk and picked up the phone to speak with an agent and answer questions about ourselves and the goods we had on board (you're limited to a small amount of alcohol and tobacco while certain fruits and vegetables are forbidden). According to the conversation, our vessel would need to be boarded for an inspection.
The agents who had stopped us while transiting were on station and David had already apologized for the confusion before poking his head into the office to tell them it looks like they'll need to come aboard.

By this time, the two agents who had stopped us while transiting were on station and David had apologized for the confusion. After the phone call, he told them it looks like they were coming aboard when they asked if we were all set. One answered that they weren't unless, of course, we had something good to eat. Sorry. Not this time. So they issued us our entry number and we were on our way. Welcome to Canada!

But the truth is that we were lucky. Even though the agents are polite and leave no evidence of their inspections, they spend hours rummaging through every nook and cranny of a boat looking for undeclared items. As to what happens when and if they find something, depends on what they find.

Even though it was still early, we'd lost the advantage of the incoming tide for travelling north, so we anchored off the resort in Bedwell and relaxed the rest of the day away.

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