Photo: christopher babcock/Shutterstock

US Boaters Are Sneaking Into Canada, and Canadians Aren’t Happy

by Eben Diskin Aug 3, 2020

With any restriction comes people trying to find loopholes. The United States-Canadian border has been closed for months, yet US travelers are trying to circumvent the closure by getting in via boats. Canada’s border patrol monitors the land border between the two countries, but those crossing by boat can be difficult to track.

Many Americans are attempting to take their boats from Washington state to British Columbia’s waters, and it’s not going unnoticed.

George Creek, whose house overlooks Nanaimo Harbor in British Columbia, told NPR, “A number of us that are retired boaters and still members of the Council of BC Yacht Clubs started looking at the number of American boats that were crossing our border, in spite of the prohibition by the federal government.”

Since passenger boats must be equipped with automatic identification systems, it’s possible to track boats in real time and determine where they’re coming from, where they’ve been, and the like. Figuring this out, the crafty trespassers have been turning off their transponders to move undetected.

“They’re turning them off as they cross the border,” said Creek. “We see them on the computer, and at a particular point a few minutes later, they’re not there anymore.”

It’s not the first loophole exploited by American travelers keen to spend time above the 49th parallel. Earlier this summer, several Americans pretending they were traveling to Alaska by car were instead vacationing in the country’s national parks. Some were caught hiking in Banff and fined by the Canadian Mounted Police. The Canadian Border Services Agency has since tightened the rules for Americans traveling through Canada en route to Alaska.

The land border between the two countries is scheduled to stay closed until August 21, but a recent poll found that 81 percent of Canadians say it should remain closed.

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