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Old 04-24-2020, 08:40 AM   #1
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Anyone cruising in BC now ?

We are Americans, and took possession of our new boat on March 7 in Sidney, BC. Our permanent moorage is in Sidney, and our plans were to spend the two weeks after our closing doing some work getting the boat ready for a three month cruise beginning in mid-May.

After a brief shakedown cruise to Princess Louisa Inlet in mid-March where we had no communications or news from the outside, we returned to Sidney to learn that the US/Canada border would be closing imminently. After much consideration of the various circumstances, we decided to remain on the Canadian side of the border with our boat.

I know that the topic of cruising during the COVID-19 era has been discussed ad nauseum. For us (and not necessarily for you), the approach we’ve adopted has been to leave Sidney ONLY to visit islands/places that are unpopulated. Local communities in the surrounding area and further north — including communities in the Gulf Islands that ordinarily rely on tourist income — have requested that all transient boaters stay away, and we believe that it is important to comply with that very reasonable request.

Here, around Sidney, there is a tremendous amount of ambiguity with respect to the status of parks. In my anecdotal experience over the last few weeks, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve — which contains some gems like Cabbage Island and Portland Island — remains open to visitors, though all developed facilities and improvements are closed. I have heard that some boaters were cited and fined (heavily) over Easter Weekend for rafting at Bedwell Harbor (also in the national park reserve), but boaters who were moored or anchored individually were left undisturbed.

I’m wondering what conditions are like now at those provincial parks in BC that have a surrounding human population of ZERO. Are people cruising around Jedediah Island? Still cruising in Princess Louisa Inlet? Anyone in Desolation Sound?

Just curious.

Thanks, and stay safe.
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Old 04-24-2020, 08:57 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Kawini View Post
We are Americans, and took possession of our new boat on March 7 in Sidney, BC. Our permanent moorage is in Sidney, and our plans were to spend the two weeks after our closing doing some work getting the boat ready for a three month cruise beginning in mid-May.

After a brief shakedown cruise to Princess Louisa Inlet in mid-March where we had no communications or news from the outside, we returned to Sidney to learn that the US/Canada border would be closing imminently. After much consideration of the various circumstances, we decided to remain on the Canadian side of the border with our boat.

I know that the topic of cruising during the COVID-19 era has been discussed ad nauseum. For us (and not necessarily for you), the approach we’ve adopted has been to leave Sidney ONLY to visit islands/places that are unpopulated. Local communities in the surrounding area and further north — including communities in the Gulf Islands that ordinarily rely on tourist income — have requested that all transient boaters stay away, and we believe that it is important to comply with that very reasonable request.

Here, around Sidney, there is a tremendous amount of ambiguity with respect to the status of parks. In my anecdotal experience over the last few weeks, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve — which contains some gems like Cabbage Island and Portland Island — remains open to visitors, though all developed facilities and improvements are closed. I have heard that some boaters were cited and fined (heavily) over Easter Weekend for rafting at Bedwell Harbor (also in the national park reserve), but boaters who were moored or anchored individually were left undisturbed.

I’m wondering what conditions are like now at those provincial parks in BC that have a surrounding human population of ZERO. Are people cruising around Jedediah Island? Still cruising in Princess Louisa Inlet? Anyone in Desolation Sound?

Just curious.

Thanks, and stay safe.

According to AIS data there seems to be a few boats transmitting in BC, although .. if I was out there I wouldn't be transmitting just to keep a lower profile.
I imagine there are others doing the same right now.

HOLLYWOOD
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:07 AM   #3
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Yup,
Cabbage Is. would be a good one for solitude. We went there once and there were 3 or 4 sailboats lined up.
We approached from the west and crossed the rock ridge (submerged) in slopy conditions and was surprised at finding the other boats.
I think I was planning to run north in the Strait on the good weather forecast.
You could experience the same and where would you go from there w a low profile?
I think you should’a come back. But I have few details.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:14 AM   #4
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What part of “stay home” are you having difficulty with? Parks are “closed.” If you go boating, it means you are putting police, Coast Guard, tow agencies, fellow boaters who are required to assist and our volunteer search and rescue people at risk. Yes, a new boat is exciting but surprise! We are all missing out on something we love to do.

You are an American, you can go home. You can even take your boat home with you and cruise in Washington State. Does that work for you and the US rules in place?

Think about it.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:35 AM   #5
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What part of “stay home” are you having difficulty with? Parks are “closed.” If you go boating, it means you are putting police, Coast Guard, tow agencies, fellow boaters who are required to assist and our volunteer search and rescue people at risk. Yes, a new boat is exciting but surprise! We are all missing out on something we love to do.

You are an American, you can go home. You can even take your boat home with you and cruise in Washington State. Does that work for you and the US rules in place?

Think about it.

Well said! Normally, I’m the kind of guy who likes to “bend” the rules, but these are not normal times.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:12 AM   #6
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If you are now in the US, I wouldn't worry about it. Unless of course you can convince them that it is essential you go across the border.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:18 AM   #7
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Well said! Normally, I’m the kind of guy who likes to “bend” the rules, but these are not normal times.
Given these times I prefer to bend over backwards in the opposite direction and definitely not to look for loopholes in the rules. People are dying. Families are suffering. How can I be upset that I can't go boating?
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:18 AM   #8
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Other than the photo, I guess I'm the stateside mirror of XSBANK! You are clearly not welcome here either! Here are a few clues:
The border is closed to recreational boating.
San Juan County is closed to recreational boating.
WA state parks are closed to recreational boating.
Marinas are closed to recreational boating.
There's a trend here. We would all enjoy our usual spring and summer cruising, but for the good of us all, we comply with the mandates of these exceptional times. Stay home please.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:37 AM   #9
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Given the choice of Washington state, i'd say you are on the preferable side of the border for now
Wash. as many know started out as a "hot zone" in this crisis, plus even though it is closed, I bet the Washington authorities would open up long enough to nail you for their massive boat taxation if you linger there too long...
Sidney is a great home base and you have access to the gulf islands and so many great places to visit like Salt Spring Island and Bowen island, etc.
I get that people should be cautious but as we speak, states are beginning to carefully open back up semi-essential services and businesses. within a couple weeks I'd bet it will be okay to cruise a bit. Where you'd have to be careful is visiting a fuel dock or chandlery, but seems like anchoring in remote areas should be okay.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:44 AM   #10
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Kawini,
I live and moor in Nanaimo. I would love to go boating, but have not left the dock. I cancelled my previously scheduled haulout due to my concerns with Covid. However, the lift is still fairly busy as is the yard. I guess others did not see it the same way?
So, I cannot inform you as to what is actually happening in the various anchorages right now. However, I agree with Xsbank. Go home, at least for now. At my home, I look out over the Salish Sea and I have seen very, very few pleasure boats out there, with the exception of a much smaller number than normal smaller "runabouts" that are still occasionally sport fishing. Down at the Port of Nanaimo docks, where I moor, I have seen only a couple of transient moorage boats in the last couple of months even though the marina is still "technically" open. I do go down to my boat to check on it and conduct some maintenance, but where I am moored, I can easily avoid any contact whatsoever with anyone else and I sterilize anything "public" that I touch. Park mooring balls are closed. Park docks are closed. Most marinas are closed or are discouraging transients with limited access to their normal facilities. Smaller locations (islands) don't want visitors potentially cutting into limited supplies, maybe bringing in the disease, or requiring use of the very limited medical and other facilities.
Others have already discussed other reasons like needing the Coast Guard, Tow service, mechanic, etc. It is NOT a good idea at this time to go boating! I would expect you would not be welcomed anywhere right now. JMHO.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:44 AM   #11
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I get that people should be cautious but as we speak, states are beginning to carefully open back up semi-essential services and businesses. within a couple weeks I'd bet it will be okay to cruise a bit. Where you'd have to be careful is visiting a fuel dock or chandlery, but seems like anchoring in remote areas should be okay.
Yes, opening against the advice of all medical professionals and scientists, the President's task force and even the President. Georgia is doing today what Denver did in November 2018. Sure hope they have better results.
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:45 AM   #12
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My front window (my house, not my boat) looks out on Wallace Island, a Provincial Park, and I have a good view of boats going into Conover Cove and Princess cove. Traffic has diminished to a trickle. Several times in the past week I have seen small boats go into Conover and within minutes, leave again. I haven't been over myself, but I suspect there is a convincing sign that, once read, has convinced those boaters to leave.
Princess, not so much, though the number of boats going in is very small.
I am hopeful that this great reduction in traffic is an indication that boaters generally are getting the message.

Some posters here have artfully articulated the message, but none have been as bluntly convincing as the Heiltsuk from Bella Bella, who cautioned way back in March, that though tourists by recreational boat will be welcome eventually, they don't want a repeat of the epidemic conditions that almost wiped them out 150 yrs ago, so STAY HOME.
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:07 AM   #13
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At Seattle Yacht Club we have been working with the local BC governments. Both SYC and Royal Vancouver Yacht Club have closed all our out stations. The Islanders are very concerned about transients coming too their islands. I believe you will be looked at as part of the problem not part of the solution.
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Old 04-24-2020, 11:28 AM   #14
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I follow James and Jennifer Hamilton aboard Dirona, the Nordhavn 52 that they've lived aboard and cruised extensively for a decade. They're anchored in the UK, quarantining onboard, and have twice reported locals checking in to see if they needed anything. Quite a different experience than seems common in Washington and BC.

Our situation sounds a bit like the original poster. We bought a new-to-us boat just before the stay at home order was issued. We were aboard when the order was issued. Traveling home would have required walking on a ferry, taking a taxi, and then driving to downtown Seattle. We made the choice to stay on the boat, thinking it was the lowest impact option.
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Old 04-24-2020, 12:03 PM   #15
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FWIW, When I look out my window, I see mostly local boats out for a day cruise. On occasion, I'll see a recreational boat transiting North. Sometimes I check them on Marine Traffic to see if they have AIS on. Some do, some don't, but that is the norm, anyways.

Most of them are CDN, But saw a NL boat in Tenedos Bay yesterday (on Marine Traffic). Also saw a big (~100') US flagged Ocean Alexander heading South yesterday.

Mandatory AIS would be a good tool to manage the opening of recreational boating. I doubt that any of that is even on anyone's radar right now as it is not a priority.

Our harbour (Westview) is not closed to transients, but I haven't seen any when I walk the dog down there. Nor is there any signage.

I suppose we will see a bunch of prawn boats soon, and that might wake up the local government. We haven't had any cases to date in town. If we, do, that also may cause the torches and pitchforks to come out.

I would not go to any Provincial Parks. They are being monitored and you will be asked to leave.

Canadians are polite. They are asking you to stay home. Not legislating it.
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:00 PM   #16
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Kawini

US Documented vessel or Canadian registry? In any event, don't go to WA until border re-opens for cruisers. If you go to WA now and then find you can't re-enter Canada the WA tax guys will hound you to death.
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:06 PM   #17
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I appreciate ALL the comments made in response to my original post.

My interest was in knowing the extent to which boating is continuing to occur in BC. As I wrote, I know from my own experience that federal authorities are still allowing boaters to use anchorages, moorings, and trails in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve -- so long as they practice social distancing. From my slip here in Sidney, I can see that there are now boats at the moorings at Sidney Spit which is also part of the national park reserve.

I especially appreciate the comments that were made specifically in response to my question. I had heard through the grapevine that boaters who had anchored in Princess Cove on Wallace Island were rousted out of the anchorage by provincial park authorities. This seems entirely reasonable in light of the fact the island is inhabited.

I'm surprised that Westview in PR is still open. Down here in Sidney, all the marinas are closed to transient boaters though it is still possible to take on fuel.
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:09 PM   #18
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Kawini

US Documented vessel or Canadian registry? In any event, don't go to WA until border re-opens for cruisers. If you go to WA now and then find you can't re-enter Canada the WA tax guys will hound you to death.
Our boat is US documented.

Yes, it is because of the potential tax trap that we did not bring the boat back to Washington. The reckoning would have been very significant. Ouch!
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:23 PM   #19
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I'm surprised that Westview in PR is still open. Down here in Sidney, all the marinas are closed to transient boaters though it is still possible to take on fuel.
It could be because it is a "red rail" marina. Meaning that technically, it is a federal small craft harbour, designated as a core fishing harbour (well half of it is; it's complicated) but managed by the city.

Most, if not all down, in the Victoria area would be private, or if federal, designated, recreational.

https://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sch-ppb/maps-cartes-eng.html

Not sure how it would work at Mansons Landing, which is both a red rail harbour and a provincial park.

I'd just stay away...
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Old 04-24-2020, 01:52 PM   #20
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Seems clear enough to me. Just because law enforcement doesn’t kick you out, doesn’t mean it isn’t closed.

https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-trave.../covid-19-info
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