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Sterling Kayak Buying Experience


New Member
Nov 5, 2013
I recently had the opportunity to purchase a Sterling Illusion kayak from Sterlings Kayaks in Bellingham Washington. I drove 8600 kms round trip from Ontario to do this and I’m still 3 feet off the ground from not only ending up with an amazing boat, but from such a great buying experience !

At a time when a lot of retailers are cutting staff and carrying so many products that they can’t give you relevant or correct information, it’s such a pleasure to deal with passionate people who are willing to slow down and give their time to a customer in order to make them as happy as possible!

While I’m no Hurricane Rider, just an average paddler, Marsha and Sterling made me feel very welcome at their shop and allowed me to take my time demo paddling all their boat models in order to make the right decision.

If you are considering a boat purchase, I strongly suggest and recommend stopping by Sterlings or one of their dealers in B.C. to try out a boat. You won’t be disappointed !

p.s. I don’t work for Sterlings, I just wanted to pass along positive information the way others have on this site.

Cheers all.
I've also been planning to order a Grand Illusion from Sterling, drive down to the shop and pick it up. At least once finances allow it. Damn currency fluctuation.

What was it like declaring the purchase at the border? I imagine you had to pay GST, but any other fees? I am guessing a U.S. made boat falls under NAFTA and no duty applies, or does it?

I'm not sure how pst or gst will work bringing the boat into B.C., but you are correct, there is no duty on the boat. The exchange on the dollar is painful to be sure, but if i went to say Maine and bought an explorer or tiderace boat for example, i'd still pay the same exchange.

I thought i could easily rule out a purchase of a grand illusion as i am 180 lbs and 5'11", but sitting in the grand i was not "swimming". It could be padded out for fit, however i really liked the standard illusion.

I've also heard that the grand illusion retains more of its manoeuvrability than the illusion when loaded on trips. This despite a similarity in the hulls.

I spoke to a customer when i was there that was picking up a brand new white/black grand illusion and he was quite tall. He said he had paddled other "large" boats in the past but the G.I. just fit him immediately when he test paddled one. He looked like a pretty happy camper !

I believe you only pay GST if you have a new kayak being imported to Canada. It's no longer new if you take it for a paddle and put a few scratches on the bottom.
We were hassled by the US Customs agent at Sumas(?) in 1998 on return from Canada because we did not have documentation of purchase in the US of an Eddyline boat. Boat was in its first year of use, definitely had scratches on the hull. I think this was a case of an incompetent agent, however, as we were all US citizens, and he never got to attempting to identify where Eddyline was (in WA). Basically, we stared him down, said we bought the boat new in the US, and he relented.
You will always want to carry some sort of paperwork on the origin of your boat when crossing the border. The all have HIN numbers in them which will indicate country of origin. Hate to see you lose it due to an officer having a bad day.
^^^What he said.. I've crossed the border a few times with big expensive bits (like race cars on trailers) and never had the question of ownership come up, but like Rod said, it's up to the discretion of the border guard. A couple years ago we went over to Bellingham to buy a couple of bikes. On the way back into Canada, we declared them and paid taxes - the border dude said they would now have a record of the bikes being bought and imported into Canada, so we wouldn't have to worry about it again.

As far as I know, the taxes (GST/PST) are due whenever the item is first imported into Canada, whether it's new or used. I've had to pay taxes on 40 year old engines being brought into Canada ;)
The high tarrif of the GST/PST is a real barrier for cross border sales of used boats. Years ago, a Canadian retailer had some sort of fully legal workaround which allowed buyers of new boats to pick them up in Blaine and avoid the tax. I knew four or five guys who bought new CD boats that way.