British Columbia the Gulf Islands

Breaking Free . . . Part II

Friday, May 17, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Miss Sally enjoying a walk along Montague Harbour's midden beach.

After a somewhat restless night tied to the dock waiting for customs to come and knock on the hull, another boat from the US arrived this morning around eight o’clock.  I watched the captain stroll up to the hut, confident enough to keep his engine running,and return within minutes with his clearance number:  There’s definitely something wrong here. 

David waited until nine before going back to call in and was told he’d have to wait for the agents to arrive on site.  Finally, around ten o’clock, they turned up by boat.  David approached them after they disembarked and was told to wait with his vessel.  It wasn’t looking very good.  We expect officiousness and curtness on the other side of the border, but we’ve never experienced it here.  So he did as he was told and came back to the boat to wait . . .  and wait .. . and wait.

Around 10:30 am, the officer approached the boat and, by that time, David was fuming.  Yet another boat had arrived, checked-in and left while we were made to sit for over 16 hours.  The officer came aboard to ask us the usual suspects of questions:  Do you have any fruits and vegetables aboard?  Do you have any firearms?  Alcohol?  Tobacco? Etc.  And explained that customs has recently been centralized to one office located in Ottawa and, although the people answering the phone are actual custom’s agents, they’re unfamiliar with the area and are overloaded now that we’re entering the busy season. 

As we suspected there was a problem . . . or more of a misunderstanding.  The bright young spark on the other end of the phone had marked us down as wanting to stay in Canada indefinitely (rather than the requested six months) and caused all of this commotion.  The agent aboard was clearly frustrated with the new procedure and assured us that she would correct our file so that, unless we want our passports stamped, we’ll just have to call in the future to receive our clearance number.  We thanked her for her help and were finally on our way – 17 hours later.

We’d planned to stick around Bedwell Harbour for a couple of nights but were both ready to move on, so we made way for Montague Harbour on Galiano Island, our favourite destination in the Gulf Group.  There wasn’t enough wind for sailing but it didn’t matter:  The day is overcast with showers and the batteries need charging. 

Montague is made up of two harbours.  The southern section is within the park boundaries and full of moorings and a government dock that accesses the campgrounds.  The northern section is an unobstructed anchorage which lies off one of the most impressive beach middens we’ve seen in all of British Columbia – not a difficult choice to make. 

Come to find out, Monday is a holiday in Canada (Victoria Day) and people are out in droves for the three-day weekend.  There must be more than 50 boats moored within the park but here, there are only three of us.  As a bonus, the wind is from the southern quadrant, so we’re well protected and spent a quiet afternoon aboard keeping warm and dry.

The weather is supposed to start clearing tomorrow and the barometer is on the rise, so we’re hopeful.  The first two weeks of May were incredible and it would be really nice to have another taste of sunshine and warmth again.  But in the meantime, we’ll continue to run the heater.

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