Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Massena NY has an enormous new Customs/Immigration facility, of a size that makes you instantly suspicious, like the vast airport on Grenada that Castro built. (That had berms to protect it from view, a runway that would pave the Sahara and eleven huge hangars, "all for tourists").

Usually you pull up with a canoe and they ask where you're going with it, but this time they were promoting form I-68. I don't know if it was a sales drive, or whether they were running a book on who could persuade the most suckers that it was exactly what you needed to navigate US waters.

We pulled over and passed the agent our truck keys. Once inside we parted with $16 US apiece, filled out a fairly comprehensive form, planted our index fingers on the screen and submitted to a little fish-eye photo. All this for an afternoon's canoeing in Waddington.

We thought we'd save time, having arrived once before at the video check-in on the dock there and hung around for 45 minutes while the agents on the other end conferred among themselves as to what to do with a small canoe. ("Ummm...where's Iroquois?"). This afternoon took an hour, eating away at precious daylight we needed to cross to Ogden Island and set up camp. And I'm still none the wiser as to what it's for, and I suspect the INS agents aren't too sure either. You can't cross into Canadian waters and come back to the States. No, wait. You mustn't come into contact with any other US vessel (or is that Canadian?). All very Monty Python.

And such a waste of time. At the dock in Waddington was a Canadian couple in a modest little runabout power boat. They'd come ashore to do a little shopping for beer and smokes ("So much cheaper over here!"). They loaded up, big-time, and pushed off for home on the Canadian side. No checking with customs--and they'd never heard of the I-68. Some things just violate the KISS principle, and the I-68 is one of them.

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