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Crossing the “Closed” border during COVID
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2020-04-23 at 8:02:49 PM GMT
Posts: 1
Crossing the “Closed” border during COVID

We were sitting in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico planning our crossing to the Galapagos when the world started shutting down its borders.  As a family of 4 we decided that the safest thing for us was to return to Canada in our boat.  It took us 31 days from La Cruz to Victoria bashing our way up the coast to arrive on April 21.  I would call this an expedited but safe pace for us this time of year.  We did not have any difficulties at any of the borders as returning home is considered essential travel.


We did however, get a bit of a surprise when crossing the US/Can border from Neah Bay to Victoria with updated COVID measures that we thought we would share here.


From Neah Bay we called Nexus Marine to advise them that we would be crossing the next day and asked if there were any updated procedures.  We were told to call in as we crossed the border and then call again when we reached the customs dock.  This is not how things played out.


As we were travelling down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, I was looking for a good spot to cross the traffic lanes and head into Canadian waters.  When a good gap opened up I decided to call Nexus Marine and inform them we were crossing.  We were told that we cannot check in through Nexus Marine due to COVID and we would need to travel directly to the customs dock.  Seemed reasonable so we pointed north and crossed the border about half way up the strait.


Within 20 minutes of crossing the border, we were immediately joined by one of the CAN/US RCMP patrol boats.  He asked us where we were heading and told us he would be escorting us all the way to the customs dock.  At 6 kts, he tailed us for three and a half hours!   During this time we were concerned that we had done something wrong or suspicious to attract this kind of attention, but apparently this is the new protocol for crossing the border during COVID.


When we finally reached the customs dock, we were handed off to 2 customs officials who verified we were symptom free and informed us of the isolation requirements.  We then called into customs to register our arrival.  The customs officials instructed us to post in large letters the Canada Customs arrival number as apparently they are getting a lot of calls of people reporting boats that may not be following the new COVID regulations.  Apparently all boats crossing the border will be escorted to a customs dock and everyone must meet with a customs agent.  Had I known this was the case, I would have crossed the border as close to the customs dock as possible to avoid having the RCMP boat tail us for so long.


This added a bit of stress to our arrival, but otherwise the customs officials were very accommodating with our isolation plans which we submitted to:  (  It’s not meant for cruisers but we made it work.


We are currently isolating on the hook in the Broken Group Islands, just south of Ucluelet.  Given that we were stocked to reach New Zealand, we could last a long time out here.


We put a lot of thought into where we would isolate.  We are full-time liveaboards, with school age children and we currently have no home port and no land-based residence.  For us, the best way to isolate is on our boat and away from the marinas and large city centres.  Ucluelet offers good support and has highway access to large hospitals so I don’t feel we are stressing any remote communities.  Everyone has their own opinion about the best way to self isolate and the broad guidelines are never going to be a good solution for those that live unconventionally.  I believe that cruisers can still enjoy their lifestyle and be as responsible at their land-based counterparts with a small amount of guidance and cooperation from the community.  Many friends and fellow cruisers have offered us assistance and we appreciate it very much.


We are sad that our plans to travel the world have been postponed, but happy to be back in Canada.


Jeff and the crew of MV Magpie

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2020-04-23 at 8:18:06 PM GMT
Posts: 3

Thank you very much for sharing your experience! I am glad that you are all safe and back home. I hope you can pick up your plans for world travel soon.

Take great care,

2020-04-24 at 9:11:41 PM GMT
Posts: 22
Well done, Jeff and Astrid! Courageous venture and creative decision re weathering the COVID - 19 storm.

Cam and Marianne

2020-04-26 at 1:51:05 AM GMT
Posts: 4
Hi Jeff,

This posting is very valuable. You have provided others who might be in the same situation with sensible advice.

I think that you have clearly thought through your options in a very difficult situation and come up with an excellent solution.

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

All the very best in your self-isolation,

Cathy Norrie

2020-05-22 at 5:29:42 PM GMT
Posts: 3

Hi. We’re on our way home from Hawaii to Victoria. We have a few questions on entering Canada and would like to chat. Our phone no is 8086578084 and Email is If you can provide your phone number we will call you.
Best regards. Dave and Margaret on SV Heart and Soul

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