The following are our updates from being out cruising or talking to marina managers and harbormasters over the last month.

Important Notice for Canadian Customs Clearance

While taking our 9-boat flotilla to Alaska we noticed some changes at Canadian Customs in Bedwell Harbour. We suspect other locations are seeing similar levels of heightened inspection and enforcement.

We were told there are now more agents at the Canadian border and they are looking for marijuana coming into the country as a result of the legalization of marijuana in Washington State. Two 20-something men are on one boat in the flotilla and they were questioned more than usual. Many of the questions involved marijuana and marijuana use.

Several of our boats were asked tough questions about the quantity of liquor aboard. One boat had a case of wine given to them as a gift. When asked the value of the wine, they said about $15 per bottle and the agent said, “Let’s call it $10.” He then begrudgingly determined that they owed about $9 per bottle, or almost $300.

One other boat at the dock said they had 5-6 bottles. Three officers decided to inspect the entire boat. They found a mixed case of very good wine and champagne and confiscated the case. The agents claim they are required to pour all the liquor out. The agents confiscated the wine at their discretion as they felt they were lied to. One agent also mentioned that they sometimes measure partial bottles – which we have been advised can be declared as ship’s stores. When I declared my liquor the agent on the phone wanted to know about any partial bottles and I even declared a partially opened box of wine (a good brand I might add). I was not inspected.

The lesson? Be honest and answer questions directly, especially since enforcement seems to have been stepped up.

One additional tip. A liquor store in Ganges, called The Local will sometimes discount for quantity purchase and they will deliver to your boat. They also have a very good selection of wines, much better than the B.C. provincial liquor stores. The Local is located near Centennial Park, at the end of the strip of stores that face the Ganges Saturday Farmers Market.

Anacortes

Improvements continue at Cap Sante Marina. During the winter Anacortes utilized a grant to radically upgrade its Wi-Fi system. They now offer two levels. Free WiFi is available for one device at speeds to 1 Mbps. Want to run multiple devices and low-res streaming? For $19.95 per month 3 Mbps is available. Still not fast enough? 6 Mbps Wi-Fi is available for $4.95 per day or $29.95 per month.

Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor Marine burned last summer. The building, which also housed Downriggers Restaurant, has not been rebuilt. Friday Harbor Marine is now operating from a kiosk at Spring Street Landing, a converted Cruise-a-Home on the docks, and a larger shop in town. They can be reached by phone at (360) 378-6202.

Roche Harbor

This marina resort is still the “gold-standard” for service, facilities, and out and out fun. Kevin Carlton and his crew have already started with many of their rendezvous for the 2014 season. The resort continues to invest in this first-class marina destination. Over the winter the old guest docks were updated. They will no longer be called the “Old Guest Docks” when you call in on the VHF. From now on consider them the “Original Guest Docks.”

Nanaimo

Due to dock construction, less transient moorage space is available at this popular moorage.

Ladysmith

The Ladysmith Maritime Society continues improving this volunteer-run non-profit marina. Over the winter, they added 150 feet to the main dock, providing 300 feet of additional moorage.

In the main building, one of the local live-aboard residents, and a retired chef, is now preparing breakfast and lunch. The menu is unique and priced economically. The hours are 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. There is a full schedule of potlucks and other activities at the marina.

New over the winter and now extending through the summer is the Art Museum up in the big blue building. The art is changed almost monthly. There is also an art studio in the building, with classes offered to visiting boaters. Call the marina to see what is on the schedule when you arrive. Unfortunately, the red trolley is no longer operating in Ladysmith. In its place the bus system offers rides to the local mall and other sites. The Maritime Society Marina office has the schedules.

Cowichan

Always a delight, Hillary’s Cheese was undergoing a renovation when we visited. The new decor will include a stone fireplace to sit by and enjoy your coffee, sandwich, or cheese platter. With multiple marinas, a choice of restaurants, and specialty shops, Cowichan is a pleasant place to stop.

Port Sidney

The wide and spacious docks with flowers in baskets along the way. Once again it is in very good shape and offers access to one of the cutest towns on the B.C. coast. Check the schedule for the summer and you may be there for one of their frequent concerts and festivals. Last season, just by chance we were there for the 1950s revival, complete with live bands and a car display all the way down Beacon Street. Great fun.

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