Bayfield to Port Huron
20 August 2007 | Desmonds Marine, Black River
Cloudy, raining, cold�
Monday, Customs office where we got buzzed in at the 10th Street Entrance. Welcome home...
Left Bayfield around 8:30 after taking a shower (smallest shower stalls I've seen but very nice facilities). It was cloudy and drizzly when we left, but the water was pretty calm. The forecast called for showers and winds E to SE building in the afternoon to 15-20 knots and 1-2 meter seas.
At 51 miles and 6knots per mile we figured "no problem". We'll be in before the seas grow. After 2 miles out it was obvious we were in for some chop. The winds were already 10-15 and we were almost running with the waves in the morning as the fetch built. So we had a bumpy ride in 6-7 ft seas with 20-knot winds, but we were clipping along from 7.0-7.9 knots, which was pretty good for us. Things were jumping around down in the cabin and one time when I looked the mustard was on the floor from the overhead cabinet (need to get a latch system for next year's trip). I ended up wedging a baggy between the sliding doors to keep them closed before I had a total mess on my hands.
It was to choppy to make breakfast and Wayne needed to hang on to the helm, so we had crackers for breakfast and later in the day I made some hot water for ramen noodle soup to keep us warm. It was cold and wet... Making hot water in a rolling cabin was not real fun but the warm soup was good. I'll have to remember to bring a broth next time.
We missed the channel a couple times watching the waves and a freighter coming in behind us. A pilot boat came out to meet him (an orange zodiac contraption). We weren't sure whether to go to Sarnia and stay in Canada first to check in or to try and find the customs office at the Blue Water Bridge so once we found the channel I pulled out my cell phone to see if it would work. It did!
I called customs around 3:30pm and was on hold for what seemed like forever, then it started ringing again and someone picked up. I asked what the procedures were for coming back into the states. He asked me where I was and what I was coming in on, then if I had an I-68 or nexus card. I told him we were coming in through Port Huron under the Blue Water bridge but wasn't sure where to go, since it looked like customs was inland - we were on a boat, and no I didn't have a 68 or nexus. He asked if we had access to a car, and I said no, but we had a dingy and he said what's that? I told him it's a little boat in case our boat sank (sarcasm on my part). He told me to go to Desmond's Marine, call when I get there and to "STAY ON THE BOAT, someone will come there to inspect you". I said okay, but didn't know where Desmond's Marine was and he said go up the Black River, it's there. I said okay.
After I hung up, I got out the Ports Book, the GLCC sheets and the chart page I was using to get us into Port Huron to see if I could find Desmond's but couldn't. After searching, I figured I'd scroll down the GPS looking to see if it was listed under their marines but it wasn't but did find another phone number for the coast guard station there and called. They were terrific in helping me to picture where and how to get to Desmond's. Ya gotta love the Coast Guard! My hats off to them for everything they do. They truly work under dangerous conditions to help others in peril and I think that they're really under appreciated. I never really did until my North Carolina field trip when I learned about their history - shame on me...
We found Desmond's just past the bridge that's in the fixed "up" position & tied up and told the people that Customs had directed us there and that we were to wait for someone to come down and inspect us. We asked if they had overnight dockage, since it appeared it would take awhile, and they said yes so we were happy campers to be tied up on home ground again specially after the rough seas. We were actually counting the miles for a while on our speed/distance monitor while we sailed through some crazy waves and wind! I was glad we decided to come directly home instead of putting into Sarnia. My vote initially was for Sarnia after looking at the charts and Ports book. It looked like easier access and I figured we could deal with a customs inspection in the morning. But it was so nice to be on home ground/water... for about 25 minutes, the time it took me to actually talk to someone. I was put on hold again forever, disconnected, then put on hold again, then transferred, then put on hold, then told he was the only one there, and was helping someone else first, would I hold again? What else could I do? I was told to wait there and call and not get off the boat!
Felt bad for the guy who said he was the only one there, and waited some more.
After he or someone got back to me, he told me I had entered the U.S. illegally, because I didn't have an I68 or nexus form. I said, I thought I only needed that if I were a frequent traveler to Canada, and this was my first time doing this to bring our boat around from Lake Michigan to Lake Erie and we'd bought a decal for the boat because we were told we needed that, by Customs on Drummond Island. He said the decal was only a "State" requirement, and asked if we'd stepped foot on Canadian Soil. I said yes, we went up to the North Channel. He said "then you need a I68 or nexus card". "You're here illegally, now be quiet and listen to me". "If you stepped foot on foreign soil, then you returned to the States - illegally". After listening to him tell me how I'd broken Federal Law, and that I was here illegally several times, he told me I'd need to get a cab and come down to the Blue Water Bridge (under it on the 10th street entrance) with all my receipts and passport. I said do I send it with my husband (since he's the captain) and stay on the boat (I was directed to stay on the boat after all) and he said "no, everyone on the boat needs to come to customs for inspection". He took down our passport numbers and names and said one more time "you're here illegally" and "what I'm going to do is write down that you have a "pending inspection" so when you get here, go into the outer doors and ring the buzzer and tell them that you're here for a pending inspection, and they'll tell you which floor to go to and buzz you in". Well I was in tears, thinking I'd broken Federal law coming back into my own country. Then fuming, wondering if Canada would just keep me since my own country didn't want me back. Then wondering if I was going to be arrested once I got down there for coming back "illegally" after doing what I was told to do to begin with!
Feeling humiliated, belittled, and stupid, we went up to the marina office and asked for the phone number of a taxi company, and called City Cab (they were there lickity split) and went down to the Bridge. They buzzed us in and we stood there looking stupid for 20 minutes before someone asked us if we were the bus... We told them no we were from a boat, with a "pending inspection" and he said oh and went out the doors. Finally a woman who'd been laughing with someone on the phone went to a computer terminal and was looking at some stuff, then said whose handling this to someone around the corner? Do I just give them a warning or what? Someone said something about the supervisor. I knew she was talking about us and was right. She went and talked to someone out of sight, came back to the computer, disappeared again, and finally came over to us and said that they were going to let us go with a warning this time... Wayne told her that we thought we only needed the I68 if we were frequent travelers and she said no. Everyone needs them now for boats. I didn't really want for him to argue with her, because they were in the power position, and I just wanted to leave - I felt humiliated enough, which he said is just what they wanted you to feel... The girl in the cab concurred with him and said they were just on a power trip and wanted you to know who was in charge... Like I don't?!?! I felt like whoever I was talking to was on a Napoleon Trip and I was to kowtow to his feet to be allowed back home... imagine how a legal immigrant trying to get in must feel... No wonder they can't stop illegal aliens, they're to busy harassing their own citizens...
Anyhow, after that farcous, we came back to the boat, got fuel and a pumpout and we'd spotted a place on the corner of the lift bridge where we had tied up to and went there for drinks and dinner. I didn't realize how hungry we both were with very little to eat all day. While we were eating, a Coastguard boat pulled up to the marina, close to our boat, and I thought - CUSTOMS! They're taking our boat now!!!
The flag on the back of our boat from my view, looked like someone on our boat... Do I sound paranoid? The waitress asked - do you have anything illegal on your boat??? I said no!!! I should have answered US (but we weren't on the boat now...) I actually thought it was Customs because they had the same blue uniforms on and there was a very short guy like there was back in Customs. I still think it was Customs. What are the odds that the Coastguard has the same short person too? Wet, cold, hungry, and made to feel like criminals... Interesting day. Wayne's angry and keeps saying it's a good thing it was you on the phone... It was, actually... The guy on the power trip probably would have thrown us in jail if Wayne had been on the phone with him. Welcome home... It's 8:20 pm and time for bed...
One of those Aben Days...