Customs Sum It Up Sunday

Timing Is Everything

Friday, January 30, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

Most days you’ll find me awake and moving around the boat hours before David so when he said, “MetVuw  has the weather looking really good by the weekend” I was sure he was still asleep . . . or experiencing the first stages of dementia.  Either way, it was only Monday morning – surely the weather would break before then.

It did, and we were able to up anchor and cross the border a couple of days later.  But if you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that we’ve had our fair share of bad experiences dealing with US Customs and were concerned about checking back into the country. 

When we left in May, the officer we dealt with insisted we import the boat (Cambria carries a British flag) and tried to back us into a corner by asking leading questions.  In the end, he let us go but not before leaving a bad taste in our mouths that’s lingered for the last five months. To make things worse, our friends aboard Sarita, another British-flagged sailboat, received an equally frustrating welcome when they checking into the US in September.  Richard called customs upon arriving and was told in no uncertain terms that he would be importing the boat.  But when he walked up to the office, the agent he had spoken to had to leave and he was checked back into the country without issue.

David and I never really discussed our options, but we both knew what was going to happen if we were greeted in the same manner – we’d simply untie Cambria from the customs’ dock and sail back to Canada.  It’s no exaggeration to say we were prepared for the worst and, based on our past experiences, had no hope for the best.

So, you can imagine our surprise when we were met by a courteous, helpful and welcoming agent who truly seems to enjoy her work – Officer Merry Graham.  She’s been stationed in Friday and Roche Harbors for two and a half years, and we’ve had the good fortune of working with her three times without her ever mentioning that we need to import the boat, what we did wrong when we entered the country or what we need to do in the future to make her life easier.  In fact, this time around, she told us all of the things customs could do for us (like we’d ever ask!).  She’s truly a breath of fresh air in an office known for being difficult – I bet they hate her there. 

After checking back into the US, we were left with one final task before we could officially put the 2014 cruising season behind us – crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca and sailing Cambria to her winter home in Kingston.  On Friday, we completed that task.

So, what about that MetVuw forecast? 

They got it wrong.  Sort of.  An approaching low began to intensify on Tuesday, closing the window they’d originally forecasted.  By the time Saturday evening rolled around, gale to storm-force winds were blowing out in the Sound and every now and again you could hear one of us say, “For once, I’m really glad we’re tied up.”

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