Originally Posted by Wrong
The primary reason I'll never sail to anywhere in the E.U. is cost, and second obliquely related to the primary reason is bureaucracy and more bureaucracy.
You have a false impression about bureaucracy in Europe
, at least what pertains to sailing.
Bureaucratic nirvana what concerns sailing is the UK, where boats are not registered, not taxed, not regulated almost in any way whatsoever, no qualifications required, not even any safety regulations
, no toilet police. Clearing customs
and passport control is done over the phone
or online ("yachtphone") or most people don't even bother. I have thousands of miles and four years of cruising experience on the South Coast of England
and have never been boarded, inspected, or hassled in any way whatsoever (very different from the U.S.).
Between EU countries there is no customs
and no clearance. Between non-Schengen countries a non-European citizen is supposed to go through passport control, but in practice no one cares. The French simply to refuse to exercise passport control on Americans sailing from the UK, unless you insist. In the Channel Islands (which are neither EU nor Schengen), customs clearance and passport control consists of filling out a one page form and dropping it in a box at the pierhead.
The only time I've ever been boarded in a couple of decades of cruising in Europe
was in France
, in Ushant this summer. A heavily armed but exquisitely courteous squad of French doanniers
came roaring up on Darth Vader's 2000 horsepower blacked-out RIB
, came on board, with non-marking shoes no less (I wish the USCG would take a leaf). Took up positions on my deck
well calculated to machine-gun me and my crew in case we turned out to be Al Qaeda. Looked through my documents and crew's passports, actually found a defect in my documents (boat is registered in a company name and I forgot to bring an authorization from the company), gave me friendly advice on what to do about it before the next trip, wished us a pleasant cruise
, and departed with a friendly wave. Proving that seriousness and efficiency and thoroughness does not exclude courtesy; someone needs to tell that to our Coast Guard.
In Europe there is no such thing as a zarpa, there are almost no borders, no toilet police, no cruising permits, almost no clearing in and out, no qualifications, with only a few exceptions like Croatia
. It's the first world, so you don't have hungry corrupt petty bureaucrats just waiting to find a way to shake you down, like in the third world.
If your boat is foreign flagged, you do have to be careful about VAT, but this requires nothing but leaving the EU once in 18 months. In some countries, like Spain
, you also have to be careful about not running afoul of national taxes
on boats which are present for more than half the year
As to cost, it is generally less than the U.S. My 54' (60' LOA) boat costs about 60 pounds a night, about $100, including electric
, in the most expensive marinas
on the South Coast, which is the most expensive place in Europe outside the Med, less than we pay for my father's 37' boat in redneck spots in SW Florida
. I rarely stay in marinas
; there are municipal ports
which are cheaper and more atmospheric, like Weymouth, where I spend 42 pounds including electricity. Or anchor
. In France, the berthing is just about half of what it is in the UK. I will pay about 40 euros for a nice marina berth in the middle of Cherbourg, later this week. This summer, I paid 22 euros (!) a night for a lovely hammerhead berth in the middle of the gorgeous town of Audiernes, in South Brittany, which on top of that has the friendliest harbormaster in the universe.
If you have a breakdown or run aground, you will towed usually for free. The rescue
services are the best in the world, and if, God forbid, you have to use them, they will not send you a bill, unlike the case in many countries.
Europe is a really, really good place to cruise
. Certain parts
of the Med should be avoided in summer as overcrowded and expensive, but the Med is only a fairly small part of what Europe has to offer, and summer is not the only good time to cruise.