So you've taken the plunge and booked a summer sailing holiday abroad, but what next? A sailing holiday abroad is the natural progression for a seafarer wishing to spread their wings and adventure to places overseas. There's no denying that it's an incredibly exciting holiday to undertake, but it does come with a lot of preparation and knowledge so that you know the waters that you're dealing with. There's a lot to prepare you for waters that are entirely foreign, and which bring their own considerations and potential hazards, therefore to help you on your first foreign voyage we have put together 5 tips to help you have a smooth, and plain sailing holiday abroad!
Like any holiday, paperwork is your ticket to another country and without correct papers your boat risks the chance of being impounded and being set a hefty fine. Even if you're only venturing across the channel to France for a short weekend you can't risk being without any type of documentation that may be called upon if you get pulled over. Not only will you need an in date passport, you'll need to hold your ship's original papers including the registration document and a ship radio licence. Insurance is more or less compulsory for a boat nowadays, and you should always protect your boat against damages and other occurrences. It's important to check the type of cover that your insurance offers before taking the boat out of the country. Other personal items of paperwork that you should take with you are your EHIC medical card, your own personal travel insurance and a voyage log. Although not a legal requirement, it's good practice to keep a log your ships voyages, as it may be called upon by foreign officials.
When sailing overseas there are customs formalities that you have to adhere to. The Customs Notice 8 explains the customs requirements for private individuals who sail their boat to and from the UK. However, if you are departing or arriving into the UK from another European country you are free from formalities with UK customs. Practices outside of the EU do vary, and we would recommend flying the Q flag if you are in doubt. On doing so you should be prepared to present your paperwork and passports of all the people on-board when asked.
#3. Courtesy Flag
Although not compulsory, displaying a courtesy flag is more a custom than a requirement when visiting a foreign country by sea. The courtesy flag should be flown as a signal, and hoisted acknowledging that you are in foreign territorial waters. We have a full range of courtesy flags that you can find here.
#4. Research The Area
Having a little bit of knowledge about the area you're travelling to beforehand is like gold dust, especially if you're planning to dock in the area and sail around the surrounding area. Not only will it give you a better idea about what is on offer in the area, the knowledge will keep yourself safe at sea. Areas that you should pay particular attention to are the tides, coastal navigation, harbour facilities, international codes and flags and weather. Basically everything that will help make your sail that bit easier.
#5. Cruising Routes
Before leaving for your destination you should have a good cruising route mapped out ahead of you, especially listing essential passage planning info like main ports of entry and landfall information. We would recommend taking a standard paper sea chart that is a fail safe method if technology fails, but it's also a good idea to bring electronic GPS to complement the paper chart, when used in conjunction they offer a fail safe method.
Entering foreign territory this summer should be an exciting adventure, but one that should be planned with precision. If you're following our top 5 tips you'll make the most out of your trip and you won't have any nasty surprises waiting for you at your destination. Look out for our future blog posts on the Mylor Chandlery Facebook page, Google + and Twitter!