Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

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AaronMN
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Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby AaronMN » Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:58 pm

Hello!

I would appreciate any thoughts on permitting required to boat-camp on Crown Land without a purchased permit.

Ontario’s Public Lands Act Free Use Policy allows for camping without a permit on crown land on watercraft with overnight accommodation. It is important to note that additional requirements apply to non-residents, under Public Lands Act regulation O.Reg. 326/94.

O.Reg. 326/94 sets out the permitting requirements for non-resident camping on Crown land. Non-residents use of watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation, may moor the watercraft over provincial crown land that is covered by water, provided that this moorage is under 21 days.

If my boat has a built in Mills cover enclosure, do I need to purchase a camping permit? I posed this question to the Ministry of Natural Resources. Their response:

"Non-residents use of watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation, may moor the watercraft over provincial crown land that is covered by water, provided that this moorage is being done as part of the exercise of the right of navigation. No permit or fee is required for that temporary moorage. Longer term occupation of this land by a non-resident, that is not part of the exercise of the right of navigation, would require a non-resident camping permit (if staying less than 21 days) or occupational authority (if staying greater than 21 days).

Regarding your question about what a watercraft would need to satisfy the definition of being equipped for overnight accommodation, MNRF would expect that the watercraft had structures or facilities that were built-in with the intent of providing sleeping accommodations.

I hope this helps to answer your question regarding non-resident camping on Crown land that is covered by water."


What does it mean to exercise the right of navigation? My Mills Canvas Enclosure is a structure built specifically for sleeping accommodations. Am I valid without a camping permit?

Aaron

Hoosier
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby Hoosier » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:36 pm

Yes, been there done that under a Mills canvas. Right to navigation deals with free passage from one port to another where you have to stop overnight during your passage. NOTE: once you enter Canadian waters, even if you are not going to dock or anchor you have to call the Canadian Border Security Agency (CBSA) and tell them who/where you are and your voyage intentions. See:

http://www.cbsa.gc.ca/publications/pub/bsf5061-eng.html
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Don McIntyre - MI
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby Don McIntyre - MI » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:52 pm

And check in with [U.S.A Customs and Border Patrol] upon returning.

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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby JRP » Wed Nov 04, 2015 4:54 pm

I am not Canadian and am unfamiliar with Crown Land juris prudence.

But I expect "exercise the right to navigation" refers to vessels that are capable of maneuvering through the water with some form of propulsion towards a destination, as opposed to stationary floating objects such as docks or barges that might be permanently moored. So a boat stopping over for a few days on a cruising itinerary would be fine, but if you towed a floating dock there and moored it with the intention of camping out on top of it for several weeks -- no.

As far as whether your Mills Canvas enclosure consititutes a sleeping accommodation -- maybe. I would assume that one of the "structures or facilities" they refer to would be a marine sanitation device ("MSD" -- i.e. toilet with holding tank) to permit overnighting on the boat. Otherwise they could assume you are discharging human waste overboard -- which presumably is illegal in Canadian coastal and inland waters (as it is in the United States.)

As long as you have an MSD aboard (a fixed-mount port-potti should do the trick), I highly doubt they would quibble about the material that is used to create your sleeping accommodations.

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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby Hoosier » Thu Nov 05, 2015 10:09 am

I'll add one caveat to the answer about overnighting in provincial park waters, you don't need a permit as long as you don't go ashore. If you go ashore you are on Crown Land and need a regular permit.
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jimh
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby jimh » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:57 am

No matter what opinion you obtain, either from a representative of the government of Canada or from other readers, it will be prudent to check with the authorities of the park where you plan to anchor your boat and sleep on it overnight inside the park jurisdiction. If the local park authorities think you are doing something that conflicts with their regulations, you'll have a conflict on your hands. I don't think they'll be persuaded by any citation of someone else's opinion--at least not if they're like the folks who run the national parks in the USA.

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Dutchman
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby Dutchman » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:12 pm

I want to add one more important thing besides the "NEXUS" registration and calling in with float plan and coming back to the US.
That is that you boat does not have a galley and/or built in refrigerator therefore you can not have any alcohol on board in Canadian waters. I was once stopped by the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) while navigating thru Canadian waters. The wanted to know what was in my cooler(s) and luckily that day only soft drinks. Later that evening when we returned to our cottage in the US we found out that if we had alcohol (closed or open) we would have gotten a fine of $100 per 12 ounces or if hard liquor $100 per the equivalent.

That would be pretty expensive if getting caught with a 6 pack. You can be completely sober at 8 in the morning and have 2 beers on board in your cooler seat your out of $200.
Keep this in mind as there will be no night cap while overnighting in your "open" boat. They seek out US pleasure boaters not aware of this.

Also be advised that it is a hassle calling the CBP number and stating you are going to some provincial park as the person on the other end might have no idea where it is you are going, even if you give them coordinates. I had this while traveling the St. Lawrence Seaway in my Whaler and every time I called the bureaucrat was in British Columbia and not familiar with Ontario and its small towns and many public parks you could land or anchor. This was while my US boat is registered with the CBP by name, registration number, owner, etc. (cheap $50 for 5 years)

Good luck and have fun
EJO
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby jimh » Thu Nov 12, 2015 12:30 pm

In many years of boating in the North Channel of Lake Huron and in Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, we have carried beer in the cooler of our small cuddy cabin boat. We have never been stopped or interdicted by any on-the-water agent of the Canadian government in any fashion. Only twice in 25 years have we have been visited by Canadian immigration agents while at the dock in a marina, and they just wanted to know our particulars for our entry into Canada. No one has every inquired about our on-board kitchen or bathroom, or asked to see what was in our cooler.

I have heard reports of rather over-zealous or GONZO enforcement of regulations against boats from the USA in certain Canadian waters, particularly in the lower Detroit River in a little anchorage or hang out in which the USA-CANADA border cuts the harbor in two. The Canadians have reportedly been quite obnoxious about picking off boats from the USA that anchor on the Canadian side, and dogging them for not reporting to immigration and customs. You wonder if this is a case of government agents without anything useful to do. A few Americans at anchor 100-feet over the border in a little protected harbor in the river are not likely to be a threat to the financial, social, or military stability of Canada.

Re-entry into USA water in the St. Lawrence was about the silliest example of unnecessary rudeness by a U.S. Customs and Immigration Agent I have ever seen. We returned to the USA by boat and went directly to the Customs and Immigration Dock. We had Nexus cards, Advanced Driver's License with embedded RF-ID's, and USA passports. To get that NEXUS card we had already been vetted and interviewed in person by the agents of the Customs and Border Patrol. You'd think this would make things simple for us. No, it did not.

The agent asked where we came from. We had come from a nearby island, just over the border, where there is a Parks Canadian dock and overnight-docking is permitted. I told the agent, "We came from GEORGINA ISLAND where we stayed overnight at the dock." The agent, a woman in her thirties with a scowl on her face, refused to recognize Georgina Island as a place. She insisted I name the municipality in Ontario that I departed from. I explained, again, that we departed from an island that was in Parks Canada. It's not very far away--3-miles. The time was around 11 a.m. and we were in a small boat. Exactly how far did she think we could have travelled? Maybe getting assigned to a post in a wooden shack on an island put her into a permanently bad mood that day.

She would have no part of us departing from an island. She insisted on the name of a town. I explained that I did not know which Canadian town or village or municipality encompassed Georgina Island within its political boundary, perhaps none as it was a national park. Well, sorry, then I can't re-enter the USA, apparently, because she just glared at me and asked again for the name of a town. Finally, to break the stalemate, I told her, "Two days ago we were in Gananocque, Ontario." Okay, she then inputed "Gananocque" into some field on her computer terminal. I am stunned. Apparently, being from Michigan and never having been in this area in my life before, I am expected to have greater knowledge of Canadian geo-political divisions in this region than the USA Customs and Immigration agent who works at an entry point. To add to the absurdity, this entry point IS ON AN ISLAND, too. Imagine if I went back to Canada and they asked me where I departed from. I'd have to tell them I came from an island. What if they demanded to know the municipality whose geo-political boundary included the island. Maybe they wouldn't let me in until I told them. I didn't know what municipality of New York state encompassed this island, either. I might have to go bank and forth, island to island, forever, because apparently you cannot enter the USA unless you departed from a town or a village or a city. It was another case of encountering our government acting in a stupid and arbitrary manner, and being held hostage by some petty official in a bad mood. Really do we have to put up with this because Homeland Security declares there is a threat?

I know that agents of the USA's Customs and Border Patrol are supposed to be protecting our borders from illegal immigration, but once in a while I think they might consider protecting the citizens of the USA from completely idiotic behavior towards absolutely normal American citizens trying to re-enter the USA while on vacation travel with plenty of identification and documents.

jimh
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby jimh » Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:02 pm

...my US boat is registered with the CBP by name, registration number, owner, etc. (cheap $50 for 5 years)


By "CBP" do you mean a U.S. Custom and Border Patrol? Or some Canadian agency?

Please tell us more about the registration of your boat and what advantage it affords.

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Dutchman
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby Dutchman » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:08 pm

Jim I know what you are talking about. We visited many island while in the 1000 Island region on the St.Lawrence where there are many Canadian park with and without docking and ability to overnight and most of them aren't in a municipality.
We visited both the castles on Boldt and Heart Islands where many tourist come via ferry and if foreign must go through US customs on the islands. If you come on your own boat and say visited a Canadian place you had to check back in through US customs with the same type problems you mentioned as you didn't come on one of the shuttle ferry boats from a certain village. A pain but that is world wide border crossing.
below is what it says on the Transport Canada visitors site;
Consumption of Alcohol

In most provinces:
Alcohol may be consumed on board the pleasure craft only if it meets all of the following conditions:

The vessel has permanent sleeping facilities
The vessel has permanent cooking facilities
The vessel has a permanent toilet
The vessel is anchored or secured alongside a dock
Check with the appropriate provincial authorities (OPP for Ontario, SQ for Quebec, RCMP for all other provinces and territories) for carriage restrictions.


I've been in the North Channel too and the OPP is a lot nicer there than on the St. Lawrence.

I meant Canada Border Patrol or Canada Border Services Agency

This website gives you all you need to know to pleasure boat in Canadian waters.https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-quick-quick_visitor-1610.htm also I'll search for my paperwork this weekend regarding the boat registration/permit and from what I remember it was very much geared to pleasure aircraft more so that vessels.
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Dutchman
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Re: Watercraft Camping On Crown Land

Postby Dutchman » Thu Nov 19, 2015 12:17 pm

I dug out the paperwork I was told to have for a pleasure boat and its occupants entering Canada. It is called CANPASS and originally more set up for private planes than boats. But there is a booklet for Private Boats too which they send with a paid application.
My apologies for the delay as I said I would do it earlier and also maybe for some misinformation stated above.

Here is the link that tells you everything you need to know. I noticed it was just revised earlier last month so it is up to date.
The cost is $40-Canadian. All questions you might have are answered.

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/canpass/canpassprivateboat-eng.html

As you can see it is more geared towards "landing" than entering Canadian waters and in your case where they don't have true custom officials it would be a sensible thing to do.

I found out with landing in the small towns on the Ontario side of the St.Lawrence river and their Provincial Parks that it was a lot easier to call and be "legal" than afterwards when getting "caught" and proof that you are legal.

Have a great trip.
EJO
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