Calgary - 50° 57' 17" N 144° 03' 33"W

The list is long but we are steadily working through it.  From packing and purging to haircuts, accountants and selling the car, we are ticking things off one by one.  A couple of the big items were to register and insure the boat.  Easy, just fill out a few forms and pay some money, right??  Not so fast...

As we are Canadian citizens and residents, registering the boat as a Canadian ship was obvious.  But, as we were to discover, there are some quirks in Canadian law, making it difficult to insure a Canadian boat for ocean cruising.  The issue for Canadian-flagged boats is they can be insured only by a licensed Canadian insurer and Canadian insurers cannot cover European navigation areas.  So this puts us in a Catch-22 situation.

We considered flagging the boat Australian, which is allowed as one of the owners is an Australian citizen. If we did this, however, there would be complications regarding residency and we may be required to import the boat when we arrived in Australia. At 15% of the boat's value, that's a rather big bill! We could avoid visiting Australia with the boat, but we rather fancy exploring around Tasmania, The Kimberley and everything in between. So flagging the boat Australian was ruled out.

Another alternative was to use a flag of convenience.  Jersey is one of the jurisdictions that allow Canadian citizens to register their boats as individuals without the complication of a shell company.  If our boat was Jersey-registered, it would open the door to a number of different insurers and we would get the most competitive terms.  The registration process would require an agent and cost in the order of €3000 for 10 years. Not too bad but that course of action would negate any insurance savings for the first few of years.

We are Canadian, the boat has a Canadian name and we want to fly the Canadian flag. We did more research and spoke to friends that had sailed in Europe and crossed the Atlantic on their Canadian-flagged boat.  We discovered that we could use a licensed Canadian broker and sign a "non-licensed insurer and client consent" form.  Basically, this means that, through the broker, we acknowledge that the insurer is not licensed in Canada and not subject to the same regulatory supervision and if they collapse, our policy is not protected by the Property and Casualty Insurance Compensation Corp.

Hmmm, we can live with that.

So, Chinook will be a Canadian-flagged boat!

Once we decided to flag the boat as Canadian, we needed to get the registration process started. We had done a search of the Canadian Register of Vessels and knew the name Chinook was taken.  In fact, there are currently 44 versions of Chinook on the register from Chinook I - Chinook XV, Chinook Arch, Chinook Sunset, Northern Chinook and so on. We decided on Chinook XLIV as our boat is Hull #44. Our home port is Edmonton!  We love this fact.  The home port of our expedition boat is a capital city over 1000km from the closest ocean!

Name chosen, we started on the paperwork and things quickly became tricky.  We are actually trying to register something that is yet to exist. Transport Canada needs a bill of sale for the boat (which isn't quite purchased yet) and bow, stern and beam pictures of a forty-five-foot long boat that is wedged into a boatshed ... 30 centimetres away from its neighbour!

Chinook's current location

In the workshop, tucked in close to the neighbours.

We also required a tonnage certificate but after some research, we found we could use a simplified tonnage certificate for a boat our size.  This involved a calculation of the boat's measurements.  One of these measurements was from the waterline to the gunwhale midships.  A few calls later and we had the measurement, thanks to Fi and Adrian from Away! Garcia confirmed the tonnage and we are good to go, sort of...  We now have the name confirmed, the paperwork submitted and once we send in the notarized Bill of Sale and the photos, they will issue our official Registration Number. 

We also need a Marine Mobile Radio Station Licence as we will be outside Canadian territorial waters and within the sovereign waters of a foreign administration.  With this comes the Maritime Mobile Services Identities (MMSI) number that is programmed into our radios, our Automatic Identification System (AIS) and other equipment to uniquely identify us. Garcia require our MMSI number to programme our electronics. 

Straight forward?  Of course not.  Again, we run into the issue of the unfinished boat and the lack of Registration Number. After some back and forth with a technical support officer from the federal department responsible for the issue of these licences, we have been issued with an unlicenced MMSI number.  Once we have a Registration Number, we resubmit our 'Application for a Maritime Mobile radio Station Licence' and our MMSI number will be upgraded to a licenced one. Phew! Garcia can now get on with the programming.

And now to insurance.  We signed the non-licensed insurer and client consent, filled out the application form with some boxes (you guessed it, Registration Number, MMSI Number etc...) filled out with 'TBA'.  We provided a lengthy resume of our sailing experience and where we want to sail.  The 'where we want to sail' required some consideration.  We have opted to amend our sailing area each year and pay only for coverage of the region we are currently in.  It is more cost effective than 'world-wide' coverage.

The broker sent it all off to the underwriters and we are now approved for coverage in European waters - from La Rochelle to 64°N and 11°W to 26°E.  This covers us for UK, Ireland, The Faroes, southern Norway, most of the Baltic and the Atlantic Coast from Denmark to La Rochelle in France. Plenty of places to explore in our first year!

The map boudaries show the navigation area covered by our insurance.
Wonder how long it will take to explore?

Two major items are ticked off that rather long list.  Now we just have to do our income taxes, visit the accountant, haircuts, cancel cell phones, head to Vancouver Island to visit family, transfer money, sell car et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. 



  1. I thought Chinook was made primarily of aluminum, now you are telling me it is actually made of paper!


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