Sidney to San Juan water taxi service resumes

Sidney to San Juan water taxi service resumes

Miles Arsenault’s Bay to Bay Charters started sailing from Van Isle Marina to Roche Harbor and Friday Harbor in Washington state at the end of November 2022.

However, the service only lasted two months before the Canadian Border Services Agency made him drop anchor.

“Canada Border Services Agency suggested that I was in the same classification as a ferry, and that’s kind of where it all started,” says Arsenault.

“They said if I wanted to use Van Isle Marina as a point of entry, then I would have to enter into a cost-recovery agreement.”

After months of legal wrangling, Arsenault is ready to set sail once again, but customers will have to help cover the cost of two CBSA agents to meet the vessel once it arrives back in Sidney.

“I charge $545 all-inclusive of port fees, taxes and that’s for two people and $50 per additional passenger after that and then upon entry into Canada, there is a $430 CBSA that will be divided between the passengers,” says Arsenault.

The route has also been altered, with the U.S. Authorities making Arsenault dock solely in Friday Harbor due to staffing.

“The closest point is Roche Harbor and that’s where my initial entry was being made, and then I’m told that can no longer be facilitated and that I have to go into Friday Harbor, which is twice the distance,” says Arsenault.

Still, with the Washington State Ferry run between Anacortes and Sidney shuttered until at least 2030, Arsenault is now the only direct link between the San Juan Islands and Sidney.

He says in spite of these new challenges, he’ll stay the course.

“People have been enjoying the border crossing for many years and it’s so close that it is great that the Americans can come up and the Canadians can go down,” says Arsenault.

Sailings leave Van Isle Marina at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and return from Friday Harbor at 11 a.m.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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