Oh Canada! – Again

canadian_flagLast summer, on the day before crossing the U.S. border into Canada our refrigerator broke down. Although we found an RV service shop that repaired it early the next morning and so avoided a really big delay, we didn’t arrive at our campsite until 9:30 p.m.

So I was extra cautious and vigilant on the eve of our journey into Canada this year.

Victoria Ferry  003This was also going to be a different approach. Instead of driving across the border, Island Girl was taking a ferry across to Vancouver Island.

We took a down day the week before to handle various errands and preparations for our entry into Canada:Victoria Ferry  007

Called our credit/ATM card companies to notify them we’d be in Canada.

Put a temporary stop in our Millenicom MiFi account (not available in Canada).

Signed up for a special Canada plan on Verizon for our cell phone and text service.

Settled our bills.


And prepared our documents: passports, rabies certificate for Angel, registrations and insurance documents for the car and the RV. And a list of all alcohol on board.

We chose to go (way) over the alcohol allowance, and take the duty hit, which worked out well for us last year. Not recommending that for others, because duties are at the officers’ discretion (with a very high cap) but that is our approach.

Victoria Ferry  002Victoria Ferry  004Off we went to Port Angeles to board the ferry. We had a reservation and just needed to show up an hour in advance.

The ferry staff checked our passports and gave us a slip to fill out for the ship manifest. The slip simply asked for our first and last names, gender and dates of birth.Victoria Ferry  005

Victoria Ferry  006Victoria Ferry  008Our ferry ship was the MV Coho, a rather elegant lady who is 50 years young this year and part of the Black Ball Ferry Line. Originally built to carry heavy lumber trucks, she has been carefully cared for by her owners. You would never know her age by looking at her.

Soon it was time to drive into the giant ferry. Like entering the belly of the beast, we entered through the stern of the vessel, along with quite a number of other RV’s, a school bus, and assorted other vehicles.

We were wondering how we were going to disembark as we saw no door in front and all the arriving vehicles drove out the way we were driving in.  Hmmm.Victoria Ferry  009Victoria Ferry  010Victoria Ferry  011

Victoria Ferry  012The ferry staff carefully guide each vehicle into place to get the maximum number on board.  They pack them all in tightly.Victoria Ferry  013Victoria Ferry  014

Victoria Ferry  017Victoria Ferry  015The ferry crossing was about 1½ hours long. It crosses the Strait of Juan de Fuca, a very large body of water.  And though it was a relatively calm day, the ferry rocked slowly from side to side. For those susceptible to seasickness, I’d recommend taking measures to avoid getting sick.Victoria Ferry  016

Victoria Ferry  018There is a duty-free shop (I didn’t visit) on board. There is also a little cafeteria with some sandwiches and burgers. We had some clam chowder from the famous Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant of Seattle, not as good as the one in the restaurant, but not bad.

Victoria Ferry  020Victoria Ferry  021There was a cruise ship paralleling our route, although it had to stop short of the harbor and anchor since there is no cruise dock.  They use tenders to transport the passengers to the city’s harbor.Victoria Ferry  019

Victoria Ferry  022As we neared the harbor of the appropriately named capital of British Columbia, Victoria, we had a wonderful view of the city.

There was lots of other activity: tiny, adorable water taxis, seaplanes and other boats.Victoria Ferry  025

Victoria Ferry  023Victoria Ferry  026The mystery of how we would disembark was solved – there were huge doors on the side of the ferry near the bow. That was a new one on us.

We were the first big rig to unload and had a very tight space to make the turn (although the ferry staff is extremely helpful with this). And we came up a tiny bit short of clearing the door! Hector then VERY SLOWLY backed up (not recommended with a tow vehicle, but he’s done it a couple of times for tiny distances) just a couple of inches and we made it! Whew! I thought we were going to have to unhook the car while all of the other vehicles waited.

cartoon_mountie_postcard-r86b882875a4e4df8b542cb02b5f26b0c_vgbaq_8byvr_5124839Victoria Ferry  030There was a booth and a very small parking area ahead.  We approached the booth.

Canada Border Services Agency Officer: Hello, Bonjour, then asked for our passports.

Hector (looking very innocent and friendly): Hello, handed over passports.

Officer:   Checked passports and handed them back, asked how long will you be in Canada.

Hector (very enthusiastically):  Six weeks.

Officer: Do you have any animal products with you (or something like that).

Hector: No (a slight fib, oh no).

Officer: Do you have anything not returning with you.

Hector (slight pause, a surprise question): No (totally true).

Officer: You’re on your way.

That. Was. It. No questions about alcohol nor about Angel. I was left with my documentation in my lap. And no duties for our wine, beer or alcohol! Yay!

Vector Cartoon Beaver with Canadian FlagDid I mention that Hector had placed a tiny Canadian flag on the fan in front of the driver’s seat?  Maybe it helped.

We are so excited to be back in beautiful and friendly Canada.

~ Brendakid




11 thoughts on “Oh Canada! – Again

  1. Brenda: Thanks for the details of the crossing; as Ingrid said, we are also taking notes.. Barb and I were just discussing last night our Canada plans for next year (as we have never been up there) and how and where to cross in to Canada and all of the different border crossing issues that could arise. We are following you, girl!!!


    • Welcome to our blog! We spent last summer in Canada and thoroughly enjoyed it. Don’t know if you’ve had a chance to check our blog postings on the maritimes and Quebec. And so far we’ve thoroughly enjoying Western Canada. If you have any questions on the places we’ve visited, let me know.

  2. Im excited for you guys, I know you will have a wonderful time in British Columbia. At the border, it really depends and mood on who is sitting there. Glad your alcohol foresight was rewarded. And looking forward to Hectors capture of Buchart Gardens and Victoria harbor.

  3. We just crossed from the Thousand Islands in NY into Ontario with no problem and few questions. We didn’t get the animal products one. We then crossed back in the US a day later (saved many miles on our trip). He didn’t even ask if we had citrus, potatoes, or peppers which I left behind!!! I sure hope our move into Alberta goes as smoothly!

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