George Creek monitors boat traffic from his home on the Trincomali Channel in British Columbia. Barbara Creek / George Creek .
rocker legend Barbara Creek / George Creek
Barbara Creek / George Creek
Canadians are generally considered to be quite nice people and, until the coronavirus pandemic, most were happy to welcome Americans.
But when the coronavirus began to spread rapidly in March, the United States and Canada closed their shared border to all non-essential traffic.
Since then, the Canada Border Patrol has effectively prevented American caravans, their RVs, and campers from crossing the border as they normally do every summer.
But Americans can be tricky.
Some have made it into Canada by telling border patrol officers that they are on their way to Alaska. This is called the “Alaska fault”.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police fined several Americans for hiking near Lake Louise in Alberta. Lake Louise is not on the way to Alaska.
Fed up, Canada announced last week that it was cracking down on Americans who apparently did not know which side is north.
Americans are coming, Americans are coming
Foreigners also arrive by boat, often on luxury sailboats and yachts. Many seek refuge in British Columbia’s protected inland waters and marine parks, home to pods of killer whales and abundant wildlife.
But the number of American pleasure craft arriving from Washington state has alarmed Canadians living just across the border.
For George Creek, a former insurance agent whose home overlooks the port of Nanaimo, BC, it was a call to action.
“A number of us who are retired boaters and still members of the Council of BC Yacht Clubs have started looking at the number of American boats crossing our border despite the federal government ban,” says Creek, President of British Columbia. Marine parks forever.
And they can do it from their living room.
Under international maritime law, every passenger vessel must be fitted with an automatic identification system, which must remain on at all times. This makes it possible to follow the boats in real time and avoid collisions in fog and bad weather.
Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can click to see what type of boat is sailing, where they have been recently and what country they are from.
And many are from the United States
Creek estimates that there are currently between 30 and 40 U.S. pleasure craft plying the pristine waterways of British Columbia.
Lately, however, many have turned gloomy. Creek says the Americans have understood that they are being followed by their transponders.
“They turn them off when they cross the border,” says Creek. “We see them on the computer and at a certain point a few minutes later they are no longer there.”
The maritime retiree group knows that the boats did not overturn or suddenly sank. This is because Canadian boaters crossing the interior coast call and radio call to the location of suspicious vessels, that is, American vessels. They report their sightings to the RCMP Maritime Division, although it is not known whether any arrests have been made.
“The world’s largest Petri dish”
American yachts sneaking across the border anger Creek, and many other Canadians.
There is widespread concern about the speed at which the coronavirus is spreading in Lower 48 and what many Canadians see as Americans’ blatant disregard for wearing masks and maintaining a safe social distance.
A poll conducted by Nanos Research found that eight in ten Canadians want the border to remain closed to non-essential US traffic over fears of the coronavirus.
“When I called the United States the world’s largest petri dish, it wasn’t just out of the blue,” says Creek.
Creek is especially concerned about tiny, isolated communities, like Refuge Cove on Desolation Sound, where boaters stop for fuel and food. Many of them are home to First Nations people and have no medical facilities.
Canadian boaters recently got angry after a large yacht from the United States stopped at one of the small outposts to stock up.
“They wandered over the wharf,” said Creek bitterly. “Three or four adults and the rest were teenagers with no social distancing, no masks, and walking through the store like they were just shopping at Walmart.”
For boaters who sneak into Canada to enjoy its marine parks and secluded coves, George Creek wants you to know: You are being watched.
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