Welcome to our mid-life crisis! These are the chronicles of Laura and Patrick, their young son Jack, and their goofball Labrador Retriever named Evinrude (Rudy), as they travelled the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific coast of mainland Mexico in their catamaran. We went cruising in search of a change of pace, a closer knit family, and peace of mind. We found all three and more. The fun all started in October, 2008 and nearly four years later the Mexican adventure came to an end August 3rd, 2012. With our mid-life crisis cured in Mexico, we are excited to start a new adventure - life back in America.

Candeleros Chico

Candeleros Chico
Just another beautiful day at anchor on the Baja. 2010

Dolphins at play in the bow wake 2011

Dolphins at play in the bow wake  2011

Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again

I always thought that was a stupid saying. Now thanks to Washington State tax law, it is true for us. We've been researching the in and outs of coming home and have hit a nasty little roadblock called the WA State Use Tax. Let me explain.

We bought our boat in CA. Now two years later we want to return to US waters. We are legally WA state residents though we have not lived there or voted there for two years and we sold our primary residence, but we do still hold WA State Driver's Licenses. Since we are WA state residents, the moment we enter WA state waters we are liable to pay the WA State Use Tax on the "Blue Book" value of our boat. It is equivalent to the WA state sales tax so it is anywhere from 7.9 to 9.5%, depending on where you register your boat. That's a lot of money! If we had that kind of money to spend, we would be sailing in the Mediterranean!

On the other hand, Alaska charges a flat fee for registering a boat for use on their waters. It's $24.00. You have to pay it if you are planning to stay 90 days or longer. I think that is an annual fee, so look out folks, plan ahead.

So for all our family and friends, here's fair warning. We may be coming up to the PNW within the year, but you won't be seeing us in WA waters until we figure this out. We are interested in moving to Alaska and that could be one solution. Once we are non-residents, we can enter WA waters for 60 days. You can then apply for another sixty days, but after that time period is up you have to get your boat out of WA waters or you get nailed with the Use Tax again. OUCH! that is a lot of money to pay for the pleasure of exploring WA waterways.


  1. Did you pay CA sales tax or do an offshore sale/delivery? If you paid in CA, it would be applied to the amount owed in WA.

  2. We did not pay CA sales tax since we did the off-shore delivery and left the country about a month later. So that is not an option, but thanks for writing in. I knew if I blogged about it, I would get responses from others who knew more.

  3. Not sure if this helps with determining the market value, but we bought a 1993 VW Eurovan a year ago. We had to pay use tax and they used the BB value. I was totally stunned by the tax amount considering we paid about 1/4 of the BB value for the van. I pushed back and found out there was another market value source they could look up. Maybe that's the case for the vessel? Not sure if the other source would make a difference but it's worth a try. We want you back here!