Continued closure of Canadian border affects island ports


The pandemic has not gone smoothly and many American and Canadian boaters are anxious for the border to reopen.

The Canada-US border closed for the first time since 1867 on March 18, 2020. Over a year later, the closure continues to continue. So far, the tentative date is this month, but Tami Hayes, port captain of Port of Friday Harbor, said she doesn’t know when it will be official.

“There are customers who, when the border opens, will unwind and leave the next day,” said Hayes. “They’re probably chomping on the bit, I guess.” “

The closure has taken its toll on local marinas. Hayes explained that many people with permanent vouchers will often leave on long trips to Canada, but with the border closed, this is not a viable option. She said the port typically has between 30 and 50 customers who leave for Canada during the summer.

Jack Riley, Social Media Manager and Marina Supervisor at Roche Harbor Resort, said: “Normally many boats with a permanent mooring will make long trips and while they are away the marina can use these other cards for guests. “

Riley added that these slide owners used to alert the marina when they were gone, so the resort could make reservations in advance. Now there is hardly any room for others to enjoy the marina.

“Roche Harbor is a place of family traditions,” said Riley. “A lot of people come here year after year and now they can’t because we don’t have this space.”

As the resort’s social media manager, he said he saw a lot of comments from his followers, especially on photos of the marina, noting that they missed visiting.

“People seem to live vicariously through these posts,” he said.

Roche Harbor now has a waiting list, but you must be in the harbor and call.

“People are asking, ‘Well, why should I spend all this money on gasoline if I’m not even sure I can do it? ”Said Riley.

Unlike Roche Harbor, Friday Harbor has access to all of the city’s amenities once ashore. The waiting list caused some problems.

“Instead of 30 boats anchored as usual, we may have 130 boats at anchor. So if they don’t have solar panels, all of a sudden they need electricity, water, fuel, and pumping out their storage tanks, ”said Hayes. “We are out of breath. “

Hayes also said that with the harbor being so crowded, boats anchor where they are not supposed to, resulting in many boats damaged or ending up on rocks. Ship assistance has been very busy, said Hayes, urging boaters to always call before they anchor. With so many people on the boat, Hayes said it’s causing a surge of visitors to grocery stores. This puts the items in danger of being out of stock, which is difficult for the locals.

“We can’t just drive to the next city’s Safeway,” she said.

On top of that, Hayes said many distribution companies are understaffed, making the process of getting goods to the island even more difficult.

Marinas have also been missed by many Canadian guests. Although the border is open to Canadians to enter the United States without a protocol, they will still need to self-quarantine when they return to Canada, so most don’t care, Hayes explained.

“We miss Canadian boaters,” added Riley. “They are always a lot of fun to have at the marina. Hopefully we can get back to normal soon so we can continue to enjoy the beautiful waters we each have to offer. “


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