Yachties always say that “Cruising Plans are written in the sand at low tide”. And they just have to be. When you’re far away from home and planning to have friends or family fly in to meet up, the mantra is “Pick a time or pick a place”. Because there are so many things totally out of our control that can make plans disappear as quickly as they’re made. And getting your boat to a specific place at a specific time can be quite impossible at times.
While the border between Canada and the US remains closed due to Covid, we have been planning to go to Alaska, thinking we had the right to transit through BC waters if it was direct and without unnecessary stops (we likely would want one fuel stop). We have a Facebook group of other locals planning the same thing. And I even had bookmarked the page in the Canadian Border Patrol’s site that said we could go. Then last week one of the group called and talked to someone at border patrol. Apparently there is some fine print here (actually, bold print as the case is).
See where that says “navigate” in bold text? There’s a reason it’s in bold text. It doesn’t say transit, it says navigate. International maritime law gives all vessels free passage to navigate through your waters, as long as they do not drop a hook or stop at a dock. As soon as you’re touching their soil, you’re no longer navigating, you are in their country. What this clause does is make it easy for the fishing fleet to get to Alaska via the inside passage, since they have enough crew to run the boat 24×7 and not anchor along the way.
But what about if we’re not tourists? Some are gaming the system saying they are moving themselves or their boat to Alaska. Then in the fall, they’re changing their mind and taking the boat back to Washington. Rob and I have often thought about buying another piece of vacation property before we retire, and could legitimately say we are shopping for real estate that’s accessible only by float plane or boat. That actually might work. But it’s the “might” that is the problem.
There is a lot of planning that goes into a 4 month trip away from home. That includes getting everything at home ready to leave, arranging house sitters, work on the boat, trip planning, and making plans for friends to fly up and visit. A lot of things in motion that could be stopped right at the border if shopping for real estate isn’t reason enough to let us transit through. And it’ll be up to one man or woman to make that decision, at their discretion (and in whatever mood they happen to be in that day).
So, again, we are an offshore boat, so why not just bash north and go outside? We did that math again this week, and just don’t like the answer. This is a pic of the North Pacific looking out as far as forecasters can guess, 96 hours, which is only 4 days. We’ve been in the North Pacific in the summer, and I promise you, those low pressure systems coming out of China never stop. And they’ll get across the North Pacific faster than we can bash north to Alaska. Once we’re outside the Haida Gwaii we have nowhere to duck into if a storm hits (the First Nations people have closed their borders, as many of our local tribes also have).
So what IS today’s “Plan”??? Well I am still taking a much needed break from work. This is my 7th year on this project, and this last year is the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. I’m exhausted, emotionally, mentally and physically. If we can’t go to Alaska, we’ll do some mini vacations – some staycation time here finishing the house and deck remodel, some time in our little camp trailer, and some time in our boat in Washington waters.
But we have some wiggle room to wait for a while. President Biden extended an olive branch in the way of vaccines to Prime Minister Trudeau yesterday. Granted they’re vaccines we can’t use because we haven’t approved them yet, but vaccines hopefully the Canadians feel safe taking. There are more people anxious to open the border than there are hoping they stay closed I believe. Time will tell if I have to make a new blog category, or if we’re Alaska-bound!