Skipper’s Tips #8 – Documentation

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I can’t stress enough, the importance of carrying the correct documentation on your boat and following the correct procedures for transiting from one country to the next.  For those who spend their time mooching around local waters this is not something that is ever consider at any great length and that is probably the reason some of us have come unstuck in the past – setting off on our first adventures to foreign climes, blissfully ignorant of just how zealous certain foreign officials can be when determining ownership and VAT status of your vessel.

During my early years as Principal of Sealine Sea School, I have to admit that I fell foul of this myself.  The school boat was on a ‘Cruise in Company’ to France and the Channel Islands. They turned up in Cherbourg, on the first leg of the trip, only to be met by a ‘Penalisation’ of French customs officials. The school boat carried a complete set of documentation but photocopies not originals, as there was always the possibility they could be damaged or lost.  Normally I would have put the originals on board for cross-Channel trips but on this occasion I had forgotten to do so. The customs officials swooped on the boat, almost as though they’d been tipped off and in short order handed out a 1500 fine for not having an original registration document on the boat.

So, my tip today is:

Carry all the relevant documentation (originals), both for the boat and for yourselves

If your boat is registered on either the small ships registry or the Lloyds part one registry; you will need to display the registration number in a prominent position on your vessel.

When leaving EU waters, you are required to post page 1 of the HM Customs form (C1331) in the HM Customs post-box at your marina and on your return post page 2.

When arriving back from a non EU country you must fly your yellow ‘Q’ flag and telephone HM Customs National Yachtline when you get back into UK waters to gain clearance (0845 723 1110). You must not leave your vessel (unless it is to telephone HM Customs) or take anything off your vessel until HM Customs has cleared you to do so.

Take the time to check the local regulations for the area you intend to cruise in, as they may have additional requirements, such as requiring you to have fitted and use a holding tank for black waste.

If you are intending to make or start making regular extended passages it is worth going online and filling in a CG66, registering your vessel with the coastguard.

The documentation and procedures for going on longer cruises, especially when travelling outside EU waters may seem tiresome and bureaucratic, but if you ensure you have the correct paperwork with you at all times and comply with HM Customs regulations then this aspect of your cruising need not be too painful.

The sort of paperwork required is documentation showing ownership, VAT status, insurance and certificates of competence: these must all be originals.

If you are intending to use inland waterways such as the French or Dutch canals, then you will need to have a CEVNI endorsement on your ICC (International Certificate of Competence).

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.