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Cruising Abroad After Brexit

The Spring 2021 RYA Members magazine has an article about cruising abroad this season onwards. Some key points (as of February 2021) for us (and my personal comments in italics) are:

  1. "Although the principles of the new arrangements are clear enough, the practical interpretation of the new rules remains uncertain"

  2. UK citizens will not need a visa to visit Schengen Area (for GSA sailing, that means the near Continent plus Eire - we don't know what the implications for crossing to Northern Ireland are). There are time limits but they are unlikely to affect our sailing.

  3. You "might have to report your arrival to a designated point of entry first, before sailing on to your destination - then do the same on the return voyage". (This is pretty much like sailing into Albania except ports of entry rules only apply when entering the country, not coming back - makes a bit of a nonsense of the politicians "friends in Europe" cliche.)

  4. You will have to check in and out of UK waters, irrespective of where you are arriving from. That means the C1331 form will have to be completed. "There are plans for an electronic reporting system". This will allow you to pre-load "all your details, so all you have to do is to report the date and time of leaving and your return destination". (Great - do you ever know where you are going to make your UK landfall before you leave the UK? Sounds like E-Borders scheme is rearing its ugly head again!)

  5. You will have to fly the "Q-flag" on entering the 12 mile limit - this invites officials on board to inspect the boat. This applies to coming from Channel Islands as well as from EU countries).

  6. On arrival you must phone the 24-hour National Yachtline (0300 123 2012). Nobody and nothing should leave the boat until you've been given clearance. (In the pre-electronic days, one person was allowed ashore to place a copy of the C1331 in designated boxes in the marina, etc, and all could leave if two-hours elapsed and no-one had come to you. Generally, we occupied ourselves with cleaning, etc. Now, it seems, we will be subject to the vagaries of a call centre).

  7. RYA qualifications may not be accepted for vessels flying EU state flags (May affect those who charter in Greece)

  8. The situation re: Northern Ireland is unclear - the "RYA have been pushing for clarity... for a long time" but "..authorities don't understand how recreational craft move around the world differently from goods, so they have shown an inability to answer our questions" (Why the RYA says this only in relation to Northern Ireland seems somewhat narrow - it applies every bit as much to Channel sailing)

  9. Pet passports are no longer valid (Skippers, please note that crew must be classified as people, not pets)

  10. For latest info go to

The RYA does not mention any changes about your importing foodstuffs into EU jurisdiction. We are pretty sure the letter of the (EU) law says you shouldn't be taking all kinds of stuff like milk and so on from UK to France! Keep your eyes open for any developments.

An aside....When the C1331 was ending, I was planning a trip to Cherbourg (where two crew would leave me and another would join), then to St Peter's Port (outside EU) so did I still need a C1331 (or a French equivalent). I then thought I might come straight back to UK (could I then lodge the French equivalent to the C1331 in a UK marina?) or via France (would I have to lodge the C1331 in France as it was my EU landfall? And, would it be wrong to lodge a C1331 in UK if I had returned from a fellow-EU country rather than direct from Guernsey?) The RYA, nor the customs in Southampton, London or Dover could tell me. In the end, I left a form in an otherwise disused box in a marina so I could say "I tried". I didn't bother trying on subsequent Channel Island trips.

Later, the UK Government tried to introduce E-Borders. They added a requirement to state your destination. In a consultation response submission, I pointed out that I quite commonly changed destinations due to weather and so on (In Southampton. I stick a finger in the air a decide between, say, Honfleur and Guernsey and. in any event, I might decide to stop off somewhere in the Solent if conditions looked better tomorrow) so whatever I put on their form, I was likely to break their unworkable rules. I also wrote (and had published) a letter to the RYA on the subject.

Bureaucracy, it seems, will just keep on coming back and back until it gets what it thinks we should do – real-world logic has little to do with it. Why, I ask, was there any need to impose rules at all? What is the real difference between a pre- and a post-Brexit cruise - same boat, same skipper, same destination, same home port, same "temptation" to bring in illegals or drugs.... just what do these rules achieve?


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