sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery

 

Sail-World.com : Voyaging with Velella: Sailing boats and Customs officials

Voyaging with Velella: Sailing boats and Customs officials

'Meghan in cold weather mode'    Meghan Cleary

>What is it about sailing boats and Customs officials? No matter which country you are in there is always one who seems to hate us. Here, continuing the Voyaging with Velella series, ASA?nid=83432 writer-at-large Meghan Cleary. and her fiance Prescott have just finished a 6-month cruise in Mexico and it's time to face the US Customs.

I love living like a snail, carrying our house on our backs. No matter how far we travel, we still get to come home at the end of the day. After parting with Velella for over a week while she was shipped home via Yachtpath carrier, it was awesome to welcome our little home back to her home waters in the Pacific Northwest.

San Juan Channel -  Meghan Cleary  
Luckily for us, the weather was spectacular for the first of May—light breeze, clear skies, spring snow blanketing the mountain peaks in all directions. I was anxious to see that Velella had survived the trip okay, and felt like a proud mom when I spotted her little mast amongst the clutter of boats on the ship’s deck. We waited on shore for the water taxi to deliver us to the ship’s side, and all of a sudden we were home. I imagined warm Baja air trapped inside the cabin, but that was wishful thinking.

We were soon underway with the Canadian flag flying, headed back into US waters in the San Juan Islands. A cold front was forecasted for the following day, and we wanted to be in a protected anchorage that also had a small town so we could restock our galley. At 3:30pm, we set off for Friday Harbor, some 18 nautical miles distant. We planned squeeze in just after dark.

The notorious Strait of Juan de Fuca currents were, thankfully, flowing with us, so we made 6 knots under power along the glassy calm channel. Given my past experiences with the Strait of Juan de Fuca (sailors have dubbed it 'Puke-a'), we felt very lucky indeed to have a favorable current and very little wind. Compared to the stark, barren beauty of Baja, the Pacific Northwest is extremely lush. Enormous snowcapped volcanoes stand dark and handsome along the shorelines and mossy green islands punctuated by red-and-white lighthouses jut out into the passage.

Canadian Flag flying high -  Meghan Cleary  
As the sun fell low behind our stern, it washed the mountaintops with color, so that each glacier and snow-crested ridge stood up rose-pink out of the purple shadows. It was like a homecoming gift from the sky, the kind of evening you wish time would hang still–but we gave Velella a little more gas, knowing we had a slim shot at arriving before all light was gone.

Around sunset at 8:30, we turned north into San Juan channel, and the grey curtain of twilight reached across the glowing sky, turning islands into indefinite black shapes to port and starboard. Thankfully, our US charts are quite reliable, as is our depth sounder and radar, so we felt rather confident in our course despite the decreasing visibility. We had the phone number to the US customs office in Friday Harbor, so I called ahead to let them know we were about an hour out.

When I was in Mexico, apprehensive about coming home to the cold, I had no inkling that the chill would come not in the form of spring rain but rather as the ice-cold attitude of US Customs.

Officer Barnes was clearly annoyed that I was calling after-hours.
'UH. You don’t know what time we close, do you?'

'Well, I figure you might close the office at 5pm, so we’re happy to wait to clear in until the morning when you open.'

'Yeah, right, and you’ll get a fine for $5,000 if you do that.'

'Are you serious?'

'UM, are YOU serious, lady? If you so much as touch your anchor to the bottom anywhere in US territory, or get off your boat at any point before getting cleared in officially by a US customs officer, you will be paying us $5,000.'

Swearing under my breath, I started kissing up to him a bit because there was no way I was going to be paying five grand, and there was also no way we were sailing back to Canadian waters.

'Sir, we’re a US flagged and documented vessel, and, having a 50-ton Captain’s license, I’m aware that we need to clear in before coming ashore. We were just discharged in Victoria from a Yachtpath carrier ship, and we wanted to come to the US before restocking our galley so as not to waste a bunch of fresh food when checking back in to the US.' (You never know what they’re going to take from you when you clear in from Canada—oranges, blueberries, tomatoes, meats, etc.).

'Besides, Friday Harbor appears to be the safest place to wait out the cold front that will be sweeping across the area tomorrow.'

Appreciating our cosy saloon -  Meghan Cleary  
He took down my numbers and begrudgingly said he would take care of us when we arrived. It was fully dark when we eased up alongside the customs dock in Friday Harbor, but the night was still lovely calm.

Prescott expertly placed Velella within an inch of the dock, and I stepped off and tied her up. When the customs officer came aboard, he treated us like first-graders.

Of course, he didn’t ask what our experience was before giving us a lecture about sailing in the dark. Because we’d gotten ourselves 'into quite a situation,' he said, we could stay on the customs dock for the night, because he didn’t want us 'moving that boat again in the dark.'

Sweet, I thought, free night of moorage. I looked at him with wide eyes and agreed he was right about everything, and he exited our boat acting like he’d saved our lives. Well, I guess he did save us $30.

Now we’re enjoying the sound of a waterfall pouring down the head of our cove at Friday Harbor. The quiet shore is lined with clumps of pink blossoming trees and tall evergreens. Spotted harbor seals poke their heads up occasionally.

Our big brass lantern and propane stove make the cabin remarkably cozy, and we’re enjoying fresh Dungeness crab that we bought right on the dock from local fishermen.

Despite the many hoops we’ve had to jump to get Velella back up here, I keep thinking it’s already worth it.




by Meghan Cleary, American Sailing Association

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=83432

5:10 AM Fri 13 May 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.


News - USA and the World

Express 27 National Championship overall + Video by Erik Simonson, Pressure-Drop.US,




















America's Cup: Louis Vuitton Cup's Yves Carcelle dies at 66 *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,












Audi Melges 20 World Championship - ‘Samba Pa Ti’ crowned champion by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,










Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Final race to decide champion by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,










Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show - 13 things to See and do by Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show,




Volvo Ocean Race: Update from Team Vestas Wind in images by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,








Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Classic Garda conditions on day 2 by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,


PWA Alacati World Cup - Intense competition on day 3
America's Cup: 'The Doc' appointed as Commercial Commissioner
Wake Park Triple Crown - Registration open for final stop
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 2 images by Stefano Gattini
Volvo Ocean Race - Two more join Dongfeng Race Team
OHPRI Teen Summer Camps make a splash
East to West: A profile of Volvo Ocean Race crew Team Dongfeng
Extreme Sailing Series - First-ever Turkish team to race in Istanbul
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Race 4 images by Max Ranchi
New Around Britain and Ireland Monohull 40ft and less world record
Detroit Cup - Fifth place finish a difficult result for Neptune Racing
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Alessandro Rombelli's 'STIG' leads
Volvo Ocean Race: Call of Duty comes first for Team Alvimedica
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 1 images by Stefano Gattini
Helping boaters understand weather basics
PWA Alacati World Cup - Exciting finish on day 2
Match 40s find the surface again + Video
Audi Melges 20 World Championship - Day 1 images by Max Ranchi
Clagett Regatta names first Executive Director
Transatlantic Race - Fleet expanded for 2015 edition
IFDS World Championship overall   
Anna Tunnicliffe: Alinghi finishes second - Extreme Sailing Series   
2014 18' Skiff International Regatta - Day 2   
2014 Audi Melges 20 World Championship - It's go time in Garda   
2nd Annual Keith Dinsmoor Regatta September 13-14   
Aldo Alessio Regatta - Three days of tight racing   
PWA Alacati World Cup - First blood to Van Der Steen and Offringa   
Oakcliff Sailing hosts the Nacra 17, 49er and 49erFX Nationals + Video   
International 18ft Skiff Regatta underway on San Francisco Bay   
Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup 2014 - Quality fleet for Maxi Classic   
Sailing Champions League - which is Europe's best sailing club?   
Weta fun at the Wine & Roses Regatta   
Extreme Sailing Series: The Wave, Muscat claims victory on Cardiff Bay   
International 14 World Championships 2015: Not just for boys   
Rio de Janeiro achieves 50% treatment of sewage outflow *Feature   
2014 AWT Quatro Desert Showdown - Event memorable videos   
2014 18' Skiff Int Regatta: Day 1 at San Francisco - Reversal on beach   
Emirates Team NZ: Last race boost cannot save team from table bottom   
PWA Alacati World Cup - Furious slalom is upon us   
J/111 World Championships - The Winner is Shmokin Joe!   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT