Sunday, 1 January 2012

An interesting year for boat owners

2012 is shaping up to be a challenging year for anyone who owns a boat and makes international passages.

Firstly we have eBorders coming our way. This is government legislation making its way through the system, with the admirable intention of making it harder to enter the UK with nefarious intentions.

Unfortunately, as only governments can do, it appears that the approach being proposed will be thoroughly impractical.

Passages will require 24hrs advance notice with an ETA given.

Now, this may prove impractical for a host of reasons, including difficulties in providing the info when access to the internet or mobile signals is restricted due to location. Imagine that anchorage you love so much, where there is no mobile signal.

There has been suggestion of having a VHF radio option... Now i don't know about you, but i'm not keen on reading out my passport number over a public radio network!

It also leaves us a little exposed to taking risks with weather. Will we make decisions to leave for a foreign port due to reporting requirements, when previously we would have stayed put?

I'm sure the more prudent will still exhibit seamanship and do the sensible thing, but it could be at the risk of breaking the law.

Secondly, we've got a problem with red diesel heading our way.

As of today, we can put diesel in our boats, tax paid, but marked as red, so that fishing vessels can fill from the same source tax free. Without this 'quirk', there would be serious supply problems for either yachts where fishing is the predominant activity, or vice versa.

However, several European countries have deemed it neccessary to fine vessels with dyed fuel in their tanks.

So this leaves us in a position where the only fuel we can get is illegal in mainland Europe.

The Belgians seem to be leading the charge on this one, but the Dutch aren't far behind, or the French either.

Not really sure what the resolution is, but expect a few boats to get heavy fines, and an uproar to get started!

Watch this space to see how it all plays out!

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