Kayak inspection going into Canada

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by designer, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. designer

    designer Paddler

    Sep 17, 2012
    Bend OR USA
    It has been a few years so maybe everyone knows this by now, but for those traveling from the USA to Canada at the border in Sumas WA, you need - or needed to - to pull over and have your boat inspected just past Customs.

    An aside - in Oregon, they keep fussing with the requirements of purchasing a "permit" for your kayak as part of an invasive species program. But they are VERY inconsistent about policy. For example, we have several athletic events where people from all over the NW bring their kayaks for one of the race legs. Thousands of permit dollars would be collected if enforced at that time but I've never seen an inspector on site. And someone "unofficially" told me the fine is for putting the boat IN the water. So if you have to pull over at an inspection site and do not have a permit - they can't fine you because at that point you are just transporting a boat.

    Back to Canada. Now because Canadians are pretty much the number one nice guys in the world, I was surprised, when we went though customs, that the guy in the booth didn't say, "Remember to pull over to have that kayak inspected, ay." So after the usual questions, I just drove on - only to be pulled over with flashing red/blue lights a few miles down the road.

    The RCMP told me I hadn't stopped for inspection. I was surprised because I didn't know about any inspection. And of course I got the whole "ignorance of the law is no excuse" dialog. But I asked how I'd know at all and the RCMP referred to signs - which I never saw. Turns out they were pretty small and the same color as construction warning at the same location. I said I never saw a sign and was given the "ignorance of the law ..." line again. I was going to point out an error of his thinking; even if I knew about the law, I wouldn't have stopped because I didn't see any "pull over here" inspection sign (and why didn't the custom's guy say anything when he saw the boats - Canada after all). But instead, I told him I was sincerely sorry - which I was - and he had me follow him back to the inspection area just past the customs station.

    I pulled into the lot and couple of inspectors were about 15 yards away talking by a pickup. I walked over and told them I needed my boat examined. They looked over at it - "examining" it from 15 yards away, and said I was fine. So the RCMP wrote me a warning ticket. I now have a record :(

    A different RCMP, a different "attitude" etc. could have resulted in a fine of a few hundred dollars.

    If anyone knows if there is still a "pull over for inspection" at the Sumas border please post here so there won't be any surprises on the next trip.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  2. PDX outbound

    PDX outbound Paddler

    Sep 29, 2015
    Is the inspection requirement just for the Sumas crossing? I'm not sure why it would be different there, but we've never had an inspection or seen any signs on our ferry crossings from Port Angeles to Victoria. Feel like I'm getting set up for one of those 'ignorance of the law' lectures...
  3. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

    Jan 10, 2009
    Seattle WA
    I crossed at Sumas with two kayaks on the roof last year and did not see any boat inspection sign. Even if I'd seen a sign, I'm not sure I would have known to stop, since kayaks are exempt from so many other boating regulations, such as vessel registration and possession of an operator card. It sounds like I came within a hair's breadth of a warning ticket!

    Like PDX Outbound, I have never seen any boat inspection signs at the Port Angeles–Victoria crossing or, for that matter, the Peace Arch crossing. But apparently, I'm not good at spotting signs, so don't take my word that they're not there.

  4. Pascal

    Pascal Paddler

    Nov 12, 2012
    Vancouver Island, Canada
    Thanks for the info. Last time I crossed at Sumas with a boat was november 2014. We had my tandem ww canoe on the roof, heading for the Nooksack river. No question asked either way. Actually, I never had my boat inspected there , despite its derelict appearance. Custom officers are apparently more intrigued and amused by my accent, and often ask me to get inside for some questioning, a good diversion probably.