We are just joining this website in search for help. My wife and I retired a few years ago and have been sailing accross the world since then. Life was heaven just as we had envisioned it to be in our fanciest dreams. But suddenly it turned into hell. We have been sailing around Spain
for a while, We spent the winter abord in the port of Benalmadena (Malaga) in the southen Spanish coast. Last week we left and sailed to a new base port up North the Spanish shore. Yesterday, as we entered our new port, some policemen (Guardia Civil) in a big green motorboat told us to pull over next to the gas station, which we did. They asked for our passports, boat documents and what not. They asked us how long we had been in Spain
, and I replied almost a year. Then they said that because we have been in Spain for so long we are now subject to Spanish law and it is illegal for Spanish residents to sail a boat that is not registered in Spain and we are
liable for all kind of taxes
, penalties for "tax avoidance", penalties for sailing an "unregistred" boat, etc.
They scorted us to our new mooring
and told us that the boat would be oficially sealed ("precintado") so we could not sail her until she was registered in Spain and the taxes
and penalties were paid. I could not believe it and got furious with them and complaint and made some loud remarks. My wife calmed me down and the captain
of the port showed up. Both recommended that I better let the policement do and visit a lawyer aftwerwards. Those policemen put all over the boat a plastic band (like the one in the movies "Police Department - Do not trepass - Crime Sceene", only that it reads "GUARDIA CIVIL - NO PASAR").
When they left, the captain
invited us to his office and told us that he would charge us the smallest charge possible for the mooring
. I said I appreciated but I was ready to leave at night and sail beyond the 12-mile limit, away from the Spanish jurisdiction and never ever come back to this stupid country. But he told us that if we did the port staff could do nothing but call the police and they would send a speed boat to catch us. And then we would be in serious trouble as breaking the seal is considered a serious criminal offense. So we had no real chance. I felt like my wife and I have been captured by the Nazis during WW2!!!
The captain called a lawyer who owns a boat in the marina. He said that he knew nothing about this kind of cases but that Spanish regulations
are very strict while at the same time. And if the authorities go after you, they allways get you in some kind of infraction. He referred us to another lawyer and we just had a meeting today. He said he will study our "case", access our file at the local authorities and we will meet again as soon as he finds out what the situation is (maybe in a couple of days, maybe a week, maybe more). I asked him: "What about Spain being a democracy? What about Spain being a member
of the UE? And what about the free trade
, free circulation of goods and people within the UE? What about ...". His answer: "All those regulations
sound nice in the European Laws, but when it comes to reality, it is the Spanish Authorities that set their own regulations and it looks like you violated them, so your boat is now in their hands". So here we are my wife and I spending our retirement money
in lawyers, not being able to take our beloved boat out of this stupid country. What crime did we comit to deserve this? We sailed along the Spanish coast!!!! Aren't pirates those armed bands that attack peacefull sailors and steal their properties? Well, this is what we encountered in Spain. We had decided to skip the Somali shore to avoid coming accross pirates. But we falled in their trap in Spain, and they took our boat away and it seems they won't turn it back to us unless we pay the ransom money
they want and who knows what else.
We have just left the lawyers office in total dispair. I can't believe it is really happening to us. Can the Spanish police really take our boat from us only for having sailed around Spain for some months? We were so happy with our boat (the result of our life savings) and were enjoying the prime of our golden lifes, but they seem to have become in jeopardy all of the sudden.
We will take a train on Monday to the closest Belgium consulate. And we came to this internet
cafe and joined this forum in search for help.
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, DOES ANYONE OF YOU HAVE UNDERGONE ANY SIMILAR EXPERIENCE IN SPAIN AND CAN TELL US HOW THEY GOT OUT OF IT? DOES ANYONE KNOW ANYONE WHO HAD A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE AND COULD HELP US GET AROUND IT? ANY IDEAS, ANY POWERFUL CONTACTS, ARE WELCOME
Thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts!!!
Colette and Jean Christoff