Our summer boating got underway early this year. There is one, and only one thing on the agenda: Prince William Sound in Alaska.
We will visit lots of other places along the way, but the one imperative is PWS. Our hopes of getting there the past two summers didn’t work out for one reason or another, but we decided we didn’t want to leave the area without going, so it’s the priority this summer because…. We are finally heading south this fall.
When we first came to the Pacific Northwest, the plan was to stay for one year, then head south. Now, three years later, we are still here. It’s an amazing cruising ground, and one well suited to our tastes. Once our world cruising is done, we think this is where we will settle down with the boat.
Back in January we relocated the boat from Seattle to Vancouver. Washington State has a complex set of use tax exemption provisions for visiting boat, but the more time I spent with it, and the more I talked with different officials, the more it became evident that the rules were unclear, and different people interpreted them differently and were giving contradictory advice on how to comply and what constituted compliance.
With a nearly 10% tax at stake, it was a gamble we just aren’t willing to make, especially when the state holds all the cards, gets to make up the rules, and can’t tell you what the rules are. Our frustration, unfortunately, is very common among visitors, so everyone flees to Canada where the rules are much clearer. It’s a shame, and creates a situation where nobody winds except Canada. We don’t get to spend more time in Washington, which we would like to. Washington businesses lose the money we spend locally on the boat and other activities. Washington State loses the tax revenue on all that we would spend. And they don’t get the use tax on the boat either.
I don’t begrudge Washington their tax structure – every state has one of some sort or another. But until they can clearly articulate the rules, a lot of people, including us, won’t go back. Oh well, enough of that.
After a nice stay in Vancouver including visits with a number of friends, we pulled out April 15th heading north. The consensus is that June is the best month to be in PWS, so the plan was to spend 6 weeks working our way north, exploring some new places along the way, ending up in Sitka where some friends would join us for a week of cruising that area. Then on the PWS.
And so began our summer cruising….