Monday, August 26, 2013

Weather, Man!

I just came across a report talking about the predictions of Florida sea levels rising as much as 60cm over the next 50 years. This prediction is being taken seriously. So serious in fact, that a local fire department currently under construction in the Florida Keys is being built well above grade to alleviate the possibility of it's being flooded in the future.

 That's some serious considerations for those living coastal areas. But what does that have to do with those of us living well inland and many hundreds of feet above sea level, you ask? Much, actually. I recall learning that, as a result of global warming, our weather will become more erratic, and rather than enjoying the normal summertime patterns of days of sun and warm being gradually replaced with rain or periodic, fast moving thunderstorms, we should expect much more rapid changes. These changes would be more severe as well, with more dramatic changes and more prolonged stormy days and nights.

Perry the Penguin enjoys a windy, albeit beautiful, sunset at Fenelon Falls
  Well, it looks like we are there. So far this summer, I have heard of 4 severe storms being forecast while boating, three of them being tornado watches or warnings! Only last night, enjoying the final hour of light aboard the boat, sitting on the flybridge, we heard squall warnings for both Georgian Bay & Lake Simcoe. Thankfully we never got the squalls on Simcoe, but there was lightning, gusts and LOTS of rain on and off for most the night.

 As I have said to Anchor Girl many times over the past couple of seasons, if we are going to keep boating, we have to get used to traveling, docking and going through the locks in the wind - something she doesn't like. Looks like we don't have a choice anymore :-(

 Here's some video I captured of a passing storm at the marina last month, complete with the marine weather recording, warning of potential tornadoes and 60 knot (that's 70 MPH) winds!!. Scary thought of being caught off guard in conditions like this;

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Importing a Vessel Into Canada From The United States

 A few years back, we purchased our current boat in the US and brought it home to Canada. Before we actually went ahead with the purchase (when we were still internet shopping for our dream boat), we did some preliminary research as to what we might need to do to make things go smoothly with the 'import' process. Good thing, because there is a lot to learn.

  Getting the boat into Canada was actually very simple. The correct term is 'Importing A Vessel Into Canada'. But please, don't take my word for it - you REALLY should call Canada Customs to get their story. But don't be surprised to get more than one interpretation of what is required - we got three different ones. If you are considering having your boat trucked into the country, the firm you use should be able to handle the border crossing directly, if they are a licensed broker. Check with any potential companies to see what services they offer. The only part you would be handling in that scenario is any Custom Brokerage fees, and the HST on the boat. If you have a trucking firm in mind already, check with them to see how they approach that issue.

 Our boat was purchased in Harrison Township, Michigan, which is located on Lake St. Clair, just north of Detroit. Our journey home took us through Lake St. Clair, up the St. Clair River to Sarnia, Ontario (where we 'Imported' the vessel). Onward from there, we traveled north on Lake Huron, through Georgian Bay and down the Trent Severn Waterway to our home port.

Heading up the St Clair River (Canada to the right, US to the left)
 Whatever way the boat comes into the country, it is subject to Canada Custom's scrutiny. As we entered by water, we were obliged by law to report the boat being in Canada upon making landfall. At Sarnia, I gave Canada Custom's a phone call as soon as the boat was secured, letting them know that both my wife and I had re-entered the country as well as the fact that I wanted to import the vessel (we were given a 9 digit number when clearing our passports. More on that later. . . ). To do the necessary paperwork, they told me to report to the border crossing, which was the Bluewater Bridge crossing from Sarnia to Port Huron, Michigan.

 Most times, a Custom's officer would come to the boat, do a quick look around and perform the paperwork there, but apparently they were too busy that night to spare anyone and that's why we had to walk over to them . .

 All I had to show the Custom's folks was the bill of sale, the 'Deletion From Documentation' from the previous owner and pay the HST on the sales price. As it was, the only thing question by the woman in charge was how I got the boat so cheap! Quick note; have available any web listings, emails or whatever else to back up the purchase price. We bought the boat through a local yacht broker, so that made things look better & more 'legit' to the Customs folks.

 One other thing to make note of is how much you are going to have to pay at Custom's. Under the terms of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), any boats built in either Canada, the US or Mexico during the past number of years is only subject to the HST (in Ontario), and free from duties.

A cautious captain keeps a close eye on all systems on his new ship.
  Now, here's where a HUGE, double caveat comes into play. One should make sure that the boat they are bringing into the country was, indeed built in North America. We know of a boater who was unexpectedly hit at the border with a big duty because that particular model was built in England. Even though it was an 'American' company (Viking Yachts), that particular model came from England (Princess Yachts). Oh ya, and the 13% sales tax on top of it all. The other kicker is that Custom's won't take a cheque for amounts greater than $200, so make sure your Visa card is in good standing. Again, if you are simply having your boat trucked back, a custom's agent should be able to give you the rundown on all of your obligations.

Approaching the Bluewater Bridge @ Sarnia, Ontario.
  One final note on the sales tax. The boat will be assessed the tax amount on the day it crosses the border - not the day you bought it. What I mean by that is that from the time we took possession of our boat (paid for it) and the time it entered Canada about three weeks later, the Canadian dollar actually rose against the US buck, so we ended up having to pay less HST than I had initially anticipated. Plus, since we were out of the country for a few days getting the boat, I could claim the exemption entitled to me for the time out of the country and apply it to the boat purchase price! After all, we didn't bring any cheap booze back with us ;-) All in all, that part worked out way better than I even thought it could!

 Ok, back to the part about 'Deletion From Documentation' I mentioned.  Here we go  -  boats in the United States can be considered a second home, complete with a mortgage and all the financial repercussions that go along with that. So, many boats are 'Documented' with the U.S. Coast Guard, as an official status as to who owns - or is 'Titled' to - the boat, including creditors that may appear on the Title. Think of it like a Deed to your home. Same idea.

 How does one do that, you ask? Simple. Pay someone to do it for you. I found a firm online that takes care of all that stuff for a very reasonable fee of only $250. Do a Google search for those services to find an appropriate representative. And don't worry where they are physically located - our guy was in California and it all worked out fine. Thank you InterWeb :-)

 Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!!!The only reason we were able to get the boat that we did was because of the dramatic savings (40% less!) over buying a similar model here in Canada. Yes, it was initially stressful, with all the running around and setting things up to make it actually happen - compounded by the fact that we had to drive a boat home, through mostly foreign waters, that was brand new to us and a complete change from what we had been driving previously.

 One final note about driving a US registered boat into Canada. If you don't have a chance to get your Ontario numbers for the boat right away, be prepared to be boarded by Canada Customs officers at any Ontario port you may visit. We were approached both at Kincardine (our first stop after leaving Sarnia) and then again at Parry Sound.  They (Customs) travel around to all ports of entry to make sure everything is copacetic with both Canadians AND Americans visiting these ports, checking mostly to see if they have cleared their passports. This is where that 9 digit number comes in to play, as they WILL ask you for it.

 All that said, it was an adventure to remember for the rest of our lives and immense inspiration to one day soon travel further and farther! I'd say that if you had an opportunity to do the same - and save a few bucks - then go for it. Well worth the running around, by far.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Antique Boat Museum Founder Passes Away

 I recently learned that Robert Cox, co-founder of the renowned Antique Boat Museum (ABM) in Clayton, New York has passed away at the age of 95.

Photo: Antique Boat Museum

 Although I am not an antique boat enthusiast, per se, I do have a lot of respect for those amongst the boating crowd who have the passion and commitment to keep those old boats afloat and protect the history of early boating. Many famous builds of the day came from this area of the world (central Ontario, New York and Michigan) and part of that heritage can be discovered the ABM.

 But the ABM is only a small part of Mr. Cox's story. He also started a Marina in Fort Lauderdale, aptly named Lauderdale Marina, in 1946 - something that forms part of the very history of the city of Fort Lauderdale.

 The property that is now the marina was an old, top secret base used by the American navy during world war two for testing torpedoes and such. Mr. Cox acquired the dilapidated docks and began selling fuel in what what was then a very remote part of Florida. So remote, in fact, that passing boaters actually asked 'how far to Fort Lauderdale' upon their arrival. For anyone familiar with the what the current part of Lauderdale looks like down at the 17th Street Bridge, there are some fascinating old photos to compare with on the marina's web site, as well as their Facebook Page.

 One other interesting pieces of Mr. Cox's life is that he was very active on the political scene in Fort Lauderdale from the 1960's through to the nineties, serving as it's mayor from 1986 to 1991. He is credited as one of the main driving forces that transformed the city into what is now known as the mega yacht capital of the world. No small feat!

Friday, August 16, 2013

I Remeber When . . .

For those of you who are blissfully unaware of this fact, I have a Facebook Page associated with this Blog, so that others can join in on the fun and conversations. One of the inspiring parts of that - and something I never considered before starting the Page - is the comments I get on some of the photos that start something like 'I remember when I was a kid at this spot, learning how to ski/buying ice cream/etc....'

 That is cool. I hope to hear more and more stories like this and it is inspiring to share more photos from our wide and varied travels on the waterways.

 So, to all of you who share YOUR recollections, I say thank you. They add so much more than our stories alone could ever tell :-)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's A Wrap!

I came across this video, purely by chance. It shows a Sea Ray hull being wrapped to change from a white hull to a nice blue one. Apparently, according to the description, it took only a day to do.

Here's the video;

The company that did the work is called SignZoo.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Nature's Child

The older I get, the more I find myself longing to be close to nature. I first recognized the phenomenon roughly eight years ago, after returning to our home after a summer boating holiday.

 We had been traveling on the boat for three weeks, enjoying the lakes and rivers of the Trent Severn Waterway and getting in some serious relaxation. When we arrived back home, all the pavement, concrete and cars came crashing onto my previous state of . . . . solitude.

A day tied to an old wooden dock had somehow become more rewarding than such mundane things as a house, nice car or any other such material 'things'.

Peaceful settings like this are now what is important. We are working closer to enjoying this lifestyle more and more full time, with plans to travel farther and further and taking in as much of life's beauty as we can experience - all at a slow pace.

Water, trees, wildlife. Awesome. . .

Maybe I can express myself better in this video, in conversation with my buddy, Perry The Penguin;