A seafaring couple that took refuge in the Halifax Harbour when their sailboat hit rough waters may soon be split up by order of Canadian border officials.
While sailing on a five day trip from the Bahamas to Bermuda, they ran out of fuel and a wild storm caused the sailboat extensive damage.
After spending 32 days on dangerous seas, they finally made it into the Halifax Harbour in early June.
For the time being, it looked like Somporn Chiangmanee and her partner Charlie Holland would be stuck wharf-side in Halifax.
But now Chiangmanee is being ordered home to Thailand.
“For me right now it's a little bit sad,” she said. “Because we've been together a long time.”
She and her partner Charlie Holland have lived on their sailboat for nine years.
As a British citizen, Holland can stay in Canada for six months. But as a Thai citizen, Chiangmanee needed to arrange a visa before coming to Canada.
Holland says Canadian border officials have no sympathy.
“They don't seem to be there to give us any assistance. They only seem to be there to produce more obstacles,” he said.
Immigration lawyer Lee Cohen said there are ways for the couple to stay together legally in Canada temporarily.
“For some strange reason CBSA is playing hardball with them. And is not exercising those mechanisms, and is forcing this family to separate after nine years together on the high seas.”
He said Nova Scotia, a province with a history of seafaring, is taking the wrong approach.
“These are seafarers.They deserve better than they're getting from the Canadian immigration system here.”
The Canada Border Services Agency said they cannot comment on individual cases for reasons of privacy.