Last 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.
This was also going to be a different approach. Instead of driving across the border, Island Girl was taking a ferry across to Vancouver Island.
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.
Off we went to Port Angeles to board the ferry. We had a reservation and just needed to show up an hour in advance.
Our 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.
The 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.
There 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.
As we neared the harbor of the appropriately named capital of British Columbia, Victoria, we had a wonderful view of the city.
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.
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!
We are so excited to be back in beautiful and friendly Canada.