Recent news items

CA Lobster Pot Campaign

Update 12 September:

CA Lobster pots campaign – the petition is live!

A petition launched by the Cruising Association to make marking of lobster pots safer is again live after it was shut down by the Government until after the General Election.

The CA’s petition obviously hit a nerve with the boating public as not only did the petition receive nearly 6,000 signatures in two weeks but the CA has received hundreds of e-mails from people in the UK and worldwide telling of their experiences. Not only were boats severely damaged – some unrecoverable – but hundreds of lives were put at risk when their boats became entangled in the lobster pot tethers.

Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in the CA’s safety campaign which is backed by CA patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Yachting Monthly.

If you support the CA’s campaign, please:

It’s time to change the rules for safety’s sake.

Further details are in the CA Newsletter lobster pot special.



Update from 26 April:

Lobster pot petition entangled in election preparations

We have been told that all petitions on the government website will close at 1am on 3 May because of election purdah. While we will be able to post our petition again following the election, the votes cannot be transferred, so we must begin all over again.

Our campaign for better marking of lobster pots and fishing gear has received an enthusiastic response from sailing folk and the stories are pouring in for our evidence base. We have had a most encouraging reply from the Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations offering to work with us. The number of signatories as at 26 April stands at 5389. We have clearly struck a chord.

We said we were in this for the long haul, so we will certainly be reposting our petition as quickly as we can. We’ll let you know as soon as it is live and hope you will sign it again and once more encourage friends, family and other contacts to do the same. Watch this space!

Original news from 12 April:

Join our campaign to make lobster pot markers safer for small craft.

Some of you may have read the letter our President, Judith Grimwade, sent to Yachting Monthly on the subject of lobster pots and fishing gear and the way it is marked. They awarded her a prize!

Poorly marked lobster pots and fishing gear are the most difficult and unpredictable hazard facing coastal cruising people.

Fishermen, too, report the loss of expensive gear as a result of entanglements. These encounters could even be life-threatening. In one year alone the RNLI dealt with 295 incidents of fouled propellers. Most CA members say they would try to sort the problem out themselves so this could be a fraction of the actual number. One lifeboat station said 25% of their call-outs were purely from boats caught up in fishing gear.

We think it is time for everybody with an interest to work together to find a solution, particularly one that is cheap and practical for our fishermen. With this aim, the CA hopes to secure a government consultation about the effectiveness of the current guidance and the merits of enforceable regulations for the whole of the UK.

The MCA tells us that the same issue was raised at recent meeting of the UK Safety of Navigation committee. RATS member, John Lansdell and Ian Wilson will attend the next meeting of UKSON in May.

The CA has posted a petition on the No 10 website and hope you will sign it and encourage others to do so. We have the support of our patron, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, and are canvassing other stakeholders and the yachting press.

Please tell your friends and family about our campaign and get them to sign. If you have personal experience of this problem, please let us know. We are keen to build a body of evidence to support the campaign for change. Email:


Greek Cruising Tax - Latest News November 2017

An amended bill to the Greek circulation tax is likely to become law following discussions between the Greek Marina Association and parliament, reports the Cruising Association. This could mean that boat owners will only be charged when they leave port but nothing is certain yet.

Two years ago the government introduced a new tax which caused many boat owners to leave Greek waters. That tax to date has not yet been implemented and discussions have been ongoing to firstly reduce the tax and secondly make it fairer for all boat owners.

Chris Robb, a member of the CA who has been campaigning on behalf of all those cruising in Greece, said: ‘During the summer the Bill went back to Parliament with a new charge rate of €10 per meter above 12 meters, raised from €8, despite the iniquity of a huge jump in cost from 11.99 to 12.00.

‘That was rejected and the new price coming before the parliament at the moment is back to the €8 per meter. We will continue to raise our voices in complaint that it is too expensive.

‘The single concession to the law, which has been driven by the Greek Marina Association, is that the tax will only apply when cruising - ie when you leave your port. We haven't seen the new definition yet as it was only conceded yesterday. We believe it may benefit bigger leisure boats, more than cruising sailors.’ (Nov 15)

Robb continued: ‘My personal opinion is that the rates are too high above 12 meters, with a 12m boat paying €3.00 per day. In relation to the Croatian Sojourn tax announced last month - they seem to be level pegging.

‘I think we are going to have to shout very loud this time to be heard.’

A reminder of the new rates in Greece:

Length Meters Monthly
Charge €
6 months 12 months less
discount *
discount Annual
7 to 8 16 96 192 10% 19 173
8 to 10 25 150 300 10% 30 270
10 to 12 33 198 396 10% 40 356
12.01 96 576 1153 10% 115 1038
13 104 624 1248 10% 125 1123
14 112 672 1344 10% 134 1210
15 120 720 1440 10% 144 1296

* Discount only available if taken out in Jan 1 for the year.

The law will be passed back to the Shipping Ministry for implementation and this is the point where we will have to make sure the ruling is easy for us to comply with.


Red Diesel Use in Belgium

UPDATE: 14/11/2017 - Another step in the diesel story

During the highly successful negotiations with the Belgian Ambassador and with assistance from HMRC about resolving the problems of Belgium again fining UK vessels with red diesel in their engine tanks, RATS was aware that the ECJ had, after some lengthy delay, issued a Case Number for the European Commission's action against HMG over the use of marked diesel in private leisure vessels. As has been stated before, HMG has always taken it that the marking of our red diesel does not contravene any of the EU regulations. HMRC continue to support the use of red diesel for propulsion in our leisure vessels.

RATS then understood that Counsel was in the process of being instructed on the defence for the UK position, namely that our red diesel is considered to be legal. Members may be interested to know that we have been told by our HMRC contacts that this defence has been lodged with the European Court of Justice.

We await anything further on this hearing and will let Members know of developments as information becomes available.

In the meantime RATS will be pleased to add to our significant record any difficulties Members have when in Belgium. Any thoughts they have on this matter will also be welcome by using the email address


UPDATE: 24/10/2017 - Updated advice from RATS is in the document, The Use of Marine Red Diesel by Pleasure Craft When In Belgian Waters, attached at the bottom of this page


UPDATE: 29/09/2017 - Cruising Association welcomes further assurance from the Belgian Embassy

The Embassy of Belgium in London today confirmed, to the Cruising Association, that ‘the policy of tolerance regarding red diesel in UK flagged yachts visiting Belgium will be maintained until further notice. Any change to this policy will be communicated in due time’.

This removes any remaining uncertainty for our members, and other yachtsmen and women, who wish to make the crossing from the east coast or channel ports to Belgium. This assurance follows cordial and diplomatic exchanges with the Ambassador and his staff including a meeting in August.

As has been widely reported, the levying of fines for Red Diesel was suspended some weeks ago and that suspension remains in force. "We were glad to secure the agreement that this status quo would not change, without warning, on behalf of the boating community in the UK", said Cruising Association President, Judith Grimwade.

Keep an eye on the CA website where we will post updates as and when other information becomes available.


UPDATE: 28/07/2017 - CA wins change of heart from Belgian government

The Belgian Ambassador to the UK has told the CA that Belgium will not fine boats found to be carrying red diesel, from now until the issue has been discussed by the EU Committee on Excise Duty on September 18.

The CA had received reports that yachts visiting Belgium were:

  • tested for red diesel in tanks and fined €500 if any traces were found, even if receipts were provided
  • inspected for paperwork, including Schengen crew lists.

As a result, RATS (the Regulations and Technical Services Group) wrote to the Belgian Ambassador in London and Belgian Customs in Brussels to ask for an explanation for their change of conduct. Our contact in Nieuwpoort could give RATS no explanation of the sudden Customs action but now confirm that RATS advice, agreed with them three years ago, will now be honoured.

The CA now recommends that any members planning to visit Belgian ports carry receipts for all diesel purchased in the past two years, which should have tax paid on 100% of the engine fuel. They should also carry a Schengen crew list, and if possible a print-out of the full text of the email from the Belgian Ambassador in the attachment below. Our advice, in the attachment below, will be revised if necessary after September 18.


UPDATE: 06/07/2017 - RATS new advice to members - not to call into Belgian ports

RATS has heard of other yachts being fined as well as our CA Members informing us about their friend's plight. These friends have now told RATS in detail of their traumatic experience with the Belgian officials.

We have spoken again with our Belgian marina contact who can offer no reason for, nor why no warning has been given about the non-observance of the agreed 'understanding' of their position over UK yachts with red engine diesel.

The sudden change this year of their conduct and apparent random heavy fining for vessels having even residual traces of red diesel engine fuel, together with no guarantee of the Belgian officials adhering to the original RATS advice note, is unhelpful.

All of this has made RATS review the situation again. They have concluded that they must now raise their level of advice to Members not to call into Belgian ports.

In the meantime RATS will continue to monitor the position and post any further advice.

If Members have comments on, information or details about the Belgian actions, RATS will be pleased to hear from them and thanks them in advance.

Please see the updated document attached below for further information and advice from RATS on the use of red diesel when in EU waters.


Original posting 29/06/2017

RATS has just heard that a yacht, which had re-fuelled with white diesel, was in Nieuwpoort on passage back to the UK. It has been fined 500 Euros by Belgian officials for having traces of red diesel in the engine tank.

As the understanding for these last two years with Belgium, as outlined in the 'RATS advice, on red UK diesel' can no longer be relied upon, RATS is now suggesting to Members and other sailors that they may consider not sailing to Belgium.

If any advice is received that the original understanding is upheld of how the Belgian officials treat visiting UK vessels, RATS will publish an update to this note.

See the attached document for further information and advice from RATS.



Cruising Conference - We Do Mean To Go To Sea

A conference for all who go cruising has been organised with all profits going to help disabled people to go sailing.

The Cruising Association and the Woolverstone Project, which works to offer sailing for disabled people, have got together to organise the one-day event - We Do Mean To Go To Sea - on March 11 at the Royal Hospital School near Ipswich.

The conference will offer attendees a chance to explore a diverse range of cruising destinations, hear entertaining speakers and come away with new skills. From now until December 31 there’s a discount on the ticket price at £45 for a single or £80 for two.

Well-known sailors including Paul Heiney and Dave Selby will offer talks and there will be a series of 45-minute workshops on cruising information and skills, boat preparation and maintenance, how to organise affairs back home for long term absence and information on a range of popular destinations - all presented by people with first-hand experience.

Book your place early – and save
Tickets are available through the conference website on

Paul Heiney, patron of the Woolverstone Project,  said: ‘We are delighted to have the support of the CA in organising this conference for such a worthy cause. You don’t have to cross oceans to reap the rewards (of sailing). For many of the people the Project helps, getting themselves by their own efforts and skills from one side of a reservoir to the other, is achievement enough.

‘I have seen people return from such trips, and even though they might not be able to speak the words to express it, the look of triumph on their faces says it for them.’

The Woolverstone Project provides sailing opportunities and tuition for those with disabilities with sailing throughout the year at a local reservoir and during the summer months at Woolverstone on the River Orwell in Suffolk. They have been helping disabled people for more than 20 years and this is all done with the enthusiastic support of over 60 volunteers. There is a fleet of 22 boats - all adapted so that they can be sailed by anyone, whatever their disability. In 2016, 417 sailing sessions involving 1350 sailors with 1055 carers were run, with the support of 406 volunteers.


Trustee – Woolverstone Project
c/o Spital Acre
The Street, Salcott
CM9 8HW phone +44 (0)7540 635749


Brexit discussion - CA Regulations & Technical Services Group

The Cruising Association’s Regulations and Technical experts team has been looking into the possibilities regarding British yachts sailing abroad, post Brexit.

From discussion with EC Brussels and the Embassies of Spain and Germany, the CA explained: ‘The Schengen region includes 25 countries including most EU member countries and a Schengen visa allows travellers to gain access to all 25 countries. Travelling within the region is similar to travelling among states in the U.S.'

‘There is a strong expectation that a Schengen visa would need to be obtained from the first Schengen country to be visited, ie if coast-hopping to the Baltic, the visa would be obtained from France if that is your first port of call on the way.’

Fees are charged for visas by all Schengen countries but there are many visa waiver arrangements which constantly change and no guidance can be given.

Primarily, the Schengen system requires all non-Schengen visitors to have a visa prior to arrival but each Schengen country has been permitted to make bi-lateral agreements with third-party countries to void or ease the requirement. It is because of such an agreement between the UK and the EU that UK citizens do not require a visa at present.

Some Schengen countries have formal Ports of Entry which are the only ones which may be used by visitors for entry or exit from them, although once entered there is usually freedom of movement along the whole coastline. This matter is under consideration however by several countries and may well be changed before or after Brexit.

The CA spokesperson further suggested: ‘A revised form of C1331 (this is the form detailing all goods taken into and out of each country), which may well be more onerous, will be required for all recreational craft movements to and from the UK. ‘I suspect HMRC will take a greater interest in the stores we bring back. Overseas boat owners will make it an easier entry for themselves if they get copies of the C1331 before starting out for the UK.’


Metals in Boats - new book by Vyv Cox

A recently published book, Metals in Boats, by CA member Vyv Cox provides a valuable addition to any boater’s technical library with its insights into metallurgy, the performance of, and the interaction between, different metals in boats.

Most in the boating community will be familiar with the name Vyv Cox through his regular technical articles in yachting magazines and contributions to yachting fora. A great many CA members will have benefited from the information he has imparted during lectures at CA House, forum help and technical articles in Cruising magazine. Vyv’s extensive knowledge and experience, widely regarded as second to none, and his willingness to share this has gained him a well-deserved reputation as the ‘go-to’ man for answers to the many technical conundrums facing today’s boaters.

The book can be ordered online, with a 20% discount, through the publisher's website.

Further detail can be read in the review of the book on the members’ page of the CA website.


Crewsaver launches the #LifejacketSafe challenge

As part of its #LifejacketSafe campaign, Crewsaver has announced the launch of the #LifejacketSafe challenge, a quiz style challenge with thought-provoking questions highlighting lifejacket dos and don’ts. Not only could the advice learnt in the challenge save your life but also, by taking the challenge, you will be automatically entered into the prize draw to win the ultimate lifejacket package!

The #LifejacketSafe campaign aims to increase safety awareness by highlighting the importance of not only wearing a personal flotation device, but also making sure it is worn correctly and is well maintained. So, if the worst should happen, you are well equipped and can rest assured that your safety equipment is not going to let you down.

#LifejacketSafe challenge prize – Worth over £440 (483 Euros) *

  • ErgoFit 290N EX lifejacket
  • Lifejacket servicing voucher
  • Rearming kit
  • ErgoFit safety knife
  • Safety line

So, do you think you know all there is to know about lifejackets? Do you know what a Newton is (not Isaac Newton, but he does play an important part!) and whether all lifejackets come with a light as standard? Prove you have what it takes to be #LifejacketSafe and enter the #LifejacketSafe challenge!

Accept the challenge here

Top advice for being #LifejacketSafe

  • Wear a lifejacket and wear it correctly
  • Get your lifejacket serviced annually
  • Wear the right lifejacket for your activity
  • Follow care and maintenance guidelines

*T&C’s apply. E&OE


New Croatian tax hits boat owners

Cruising yachtsmen who keep their boats in Croatia are facing an enormous tax increase following new regulations brought out by the Croatian government.

And it is feared hundreds, if not thousands of boat owners, will leave Croatia rather than pay the increase, which could amount to more than 400%.

The so-called sojourn tax was reported in the Croatian Official Gazette last month following adoption by the government and lists the following scale of payments:

  • Boats between 9 and 12 metres:
    • up to 8 days – Kn400
    • 15 days - Kn700
    • 30 days - Kn1,200
    • 90 days - Kn2,900
    • up to one year Kn5,800
  • For boats between 12 and 15 metres:
    • up to 8 days – Kn500
    • 15 days - Kn 950
    • 30 days - Kn1,600
    • 90 days - Kn3,850
    • up to one year - Kn7,700

One Croatian kuna is worth 12p.

CA member and boat owner, Peter Naish, said: ‘From 2018, my bill for this tourist tax would rise from Kn1100pa to Kn5800 pa but I have managed to extend my tourist tax payment at the old rate. My present tax certificate would have run out in June next year. I paid Kn 1100 to extend the cover until June 2019. The harbour masters at both Murter, where I am based, and in Preko have issued extended tax certificates to myself and some others.

The CA advises all boat owners in Croatia to look into the new rates urgently and to liaise with their marina managers to see if they could pay for an extra year in advance at the old rate.

Money from the new tax is to be used for tourist projects, for which sailors have little use.

Mr Naish said: ‘We pay the vignette to cover the costs of the marine infrastructure - lights and buoyage. We pay very high marina and mooring fees to cover the costs of these infrastructure projects. Now we are expected to pay an over-proportional amount for other tourist projects that we will hardly use.’ He also said he would be starting to research other alternatives. ‘It will be very hard to leave Croatia, as we have many good friends here, but somewhere and sometime this has to stop.’

Changes to regulations in Greece and Turkey in recent years also caused many boat owners to plan to move elsewhere.


Arzal Lock Closures October 2017

The lock into the River Vilaine at Arzal in Southern Brittany will be closed for Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the first two weeks in October.

Lock opening times, in English and French, are on the La Vilaine website. or telephone 09 69 32 97. There is a waiting pontoon downstream of the lock with access ashore, but no water or power.

Inshore Weather Forecasts and MSI details

As previously publicised by RATS, the MSI VHF Channels are changing on the 6th September.

A list of the new Channel numbers and forecast areas covered for each Coastguard Station are shown in the attached file.