'It was a journey, all right': B.C. man flies to Seattle, charters plane to Point Roberts for boat
Kevin McIntosh's boat sits securely on blocks back in British Columbia after he retrieved it from Point Roberts.
VANCOUVER -- After months of trying, a B.C. man has finally managed to secure his boat in Point Roberts – but it took one international flight, one chartered plane and a rental car to get the job done.
The entire ordeal has left Kevin McIntosh shaking his head as he waits out another two-week quarantine at home.
"It's asinine, is it not?" asked the 63-year-old, who lives a short distance from the U.S. border crossing into The Point.
"I put myself at probably substantial risk of being exposed to COVID-19 when it could have been done so simply by just going eight blocks across the border."
McIntosh is the man behind an online petition urging the government to let B.C. residents with property in Point Roberts briefly cross the border to do necessary maintenance on homes and water vessels.
The roughly 2,800 signatories are calling for a special dispensation to access the small, sparsely populated pene-exclave (an area that can only be reached by passing through another area) to do things like shut off water, disconnect gas lines and secure their vacation properties from the threat of skunk and raccoon infestations.
In McIntosh's case, his primary concern was his 42-foot powerboat sinking at Point Roberts Marina, potentially releasing 400 U.S. gallons of diesel fuel into the ocean.
There are regular power interruptions at the marina, McIntosh said, and they sometimes mess with his boat's battery charging system. No battery power would mean no bilge pumps.
"Any water intrusion into the bilges would eventually fill it up and sink it," McIntosh said. "You can imagine the problems that would ensue from an event like that, and I'm being prevented by the land border crossing agents from accessing the boat."
Some residents have ponied up to have their boats towed back to Canada, but McIntosh said his was in pieces and not fit for moving. He was partway through the process of servicing his raw water cooling system when the pandemic hit back in March.
McIntosh credits one border guard with allowing him to briefly enter Point Roberts to check on the boat back on May 14, but he was only given 30 minutes to rush in and rush out. The guard made a strong impression, McIntosh said, that if he took a minute longer there would be hell to pay.
That little expedition triggered his first two-week quarantine at home.
After his petition garnered little traction, and after being brushed off by his local MP's office, McIntosh finally decided to try flying into the U.S. last Friday - despite some misgivings about spending time on an international flight, and in Washington state, where the COVID-19 case count is about 13 times higher than B.C.'s.
While his pleas have mostly fallen on deaf ears at the land crossing, McIntosh said the U.S. customs agents who screened him at Vancouver International Airport deemed his concerns a valid reason for entry.
He was ultimately able to fly to Seattle on a plane ticket that cost about $310, rent a car to drive to Bellingham for $134, and charter a flight to Point Roberts that cost him US$135.
That charter would have cost US$375, McIntosh said, but by sheer luck there were two other people looking to fly over to The Point that day.
He reached his boat Friday afternoon, and had it repaired and ready to move by the following Wednesday. McIntosh finally arrived at Steveston for customs clearance on Thursday, allowing him to begin his second quarantine.
"It was a journey, all right," McIntosh said.
With his boat now secured on blocks, McIntosh said he's done with his petition, but he's hopeful someone will take the reigns and formally present it to the government.
"Quite honestly, I'm somewhat angry at the political powers that be," he said. "This world has just gone topsy turvy when it comes to thinking things through logically."