Safe Boating Tip # 05- Coast Guard Info

Safe Boating Tip # 05 – Coast Guard Info

Courtesy of V/C Tim Phillips

I went to a question and answer meeting at BLC.  The following authorities were present:

US Coast Guard
Canadian Coast Guard
US Sheriff
Canadian Police
US Border Patrol
Canadian Border Patrol

These were the main topics and answers discussed….

Can a vessel leave US waters, go through Canadian waters, and re-enter US waters without calling in to Canada or the US?

Example, traveling around Grand Island via the West river or Traveling in and out of Big six marina to travel to East river?

YES, it is called “Innocent passage” as long as these conditions are met:

1. Everyone on vessel must have identification including children.
2. If children on board are not yours, they should have a letter from their parents stating it is OK for them to be on your vessel in Canadian waters.
3. All alcohol must be put away, caped (it can be previously opened) and not easily accessible.  An empty bottle is not considered an open bottle.
4. You must be under power, in gear even if it is at an idle to get from point a to point b.
5. You must not be zigzagging back and forth across the river.

When do you need to call in to Canadian authorities?

1. If you are drifting, fishing, water skiing, tubing or making contact with another vessel in Canadian waters

2. If you are going to any Canadian port or dock.

3. If you are not traveling from point a to point b.

What do I need to drink alcohol in Canadian waters?

1. You must be docked or anchored and called in to Canadian authorities with a report number.

2. You must have a bathroom, flush toilet (not a port-a-potty) with holding tank.

3. You must have a Galley.

4. You must have sleeping quarters.

5. Everyone on vessel must have identification including children.  If children on board are not yours, they should have a letter from their parents stating it is OK for them to be on your vessel in Canadian waters.

How much alcohol can I bring to Canada before I have to pay duty?
1 Case of beer or 1 quart of liquor for every person of legal drinking age.

Does NEXUS make it easier to call in to Canadian authorities?

Yes, If everyone on the vessel does not have NEXUS, you must call in and then go to a specified Canadian port to be inspected.

If everyone does have NEXUS, you can call in and in most cases you will be given a report number and will not have to be inspected.

With NEXUS you may call in up to 4 hours before going in to Canadian waters.

Can my vessel go in to Canadian waters if my vessel is equipped with a macerator?
Yes, as long as valve is locked closed.  A tie wrap is considered an acceptable locking device.

Note: Many boats and recreational vehicles (RVs) are equipped with macerator pumps which are essentially compact, electrically powered waste elimination systems.  A macerator pump grinds solid toilet waste into small particles for easier discharge either overboard in the case of marine applications or into holding tanks on RV’s.  With their minimal use of space, macerator pumps are ideal for the often small and cramped interiors common to boats, campers and even some smaller houses or cottages. Using the water from the flush, a macerator pump, or simply macerator, combines the water with the suction, chopping and pumping action of rapidly rotating impellers to grind and then discharge the effluvia.  The impellers are often made from bronze since it will not rust and is sturdy and easier to manufacture.

What do I need safety wise for Canadian waters?
As long as you are in Canadian waters less than 30 days, US safety regulations are satisfactory.

US waters and alcohol.

Can I have open alcohol on my vessel?

Yes, drifting, anchored, docked and under power.

The driver can also be drinking alcohol while driving but it is good probable cause to get pulled over for a sobriety test.

The vessel does not need a bathroom, port-a-potty, Galley or sleeping quarters.

If I get a BWI, in US waters, how does that affect me?

1. It does not go on your NYS driver’s license.

2. You will be fined and your privilege to drive a vessel will be suspended for 6 months, usually during the winter.

3. The US considers it a misdemeanor but Canada considers it a Felony and you will no longer be aloud in Canada.

4. You will lose your NEXUS pass for ever.

Note: Thank you Tim, this answers and clarifies a lot of questions, if anyone else has any type of nautical information to share please email it to

Safe Boating Tip # 5 – repeated

Dominic Florio added:

We had a border patrol officer at our power squadron meeting Monday and border patrol has stated to us that as of last July the Canadian Border patrol will give you a 1,000.00 ticket just for running in there waters without checking in

Teachable moment:

Looks like the boater should understand “Innocent passage” conditions

And follow “When do you need to call in to Canadian authorities” rules

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