I crossed into Canada! Conditions on the San Juan strait were dead calm, and the only undulations over the water came from tidal currents making standing waves like a river rapid. Thankfully, the tide was flooding, and the current drift carried me north in the right direction towards Port Sidney.
This side of the Juan de Fuca channel is the passageway for the container and cruise ships heading to and from Vancouver and is a very busy sea-lane. From a glance, the massive ships don’t seem to move very fast, but after 10 minutes, a ship that seemed safely far away can quickly sneak up on you. My dilemma when a ship is heading in my direction was always to judge if it is far enough away for me to keep paddling and cross in front of it or wait for it to pass. If I choose to wait, there is always the feeling that I wasted my time and could have made it across. But if I go for it and try to cross ahead of the ship, who knows if I’ll end up regretting my impatience.
I landed on Port Sidney on a sheltered beach immediately south of the port marina. This was my first time crossing an international border by kayak, and so I was a bit unsure how the immigration process should be carried out. Google Earth showed a customs office in the marina, so I went to check there first. The marina guard told me to walk all the way to the end of the dock, where I would find the customs office shed.
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There was no one at the shed and a sign on the window noted that international arrivals should either call the number written on the post sign or use the designated red phone immediately next to it. The phone was dead, so the phone number was the only option. I called the number, and after a fifteen-minute hold, was put through to an operator.
“What’s your boat registration number?”
“Hmmm, I don’t have one. I came by kayak.”
“Ok let me check with the supervisor how we handle that. Ok we’ll make your registration your last name and the word kayak. What was your port of departure?”
“Roche Harbor, in San Juan.”
“Is that Puerto Rico?”
“What? No, it’s across the channel in Washington state.”
“Right, of course.” His voice sounded a little embarrassed.
We went through a standard list of questions about what I was carrying, (no guns, pets, perishable foods, or marijuana) plus the standard Covid questions, and then I was free to go.
I checked the time, and it was already 3:00 pm and I decided to stay in Port Sidney for the night. I considered continuing to a campsite outside of town some eleven miles farther, but the breeze would have been against me, the hotel next to the beach where I had arrived had one room available, and it just seemed too convenient. And I wouldn’t have to eat canned fish for dinner.
Sea kayak Vancouver Island Circumnavigation