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Old 02-08-2020, 14:00   #1
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European coastal cruising - license needed??

Hi everyone,

I have seen other threads discussing similar matters, but they have all confused me more than give me clarity, so trying it out in a separate post - hope it's okay!

Basically, I have bought a 28 ft sailing boat in Denmark that I'm planning on refitting over the next months and then sailing down over an extended period (3 months or so) to Portugal next summer (hitting Germany, Holland, UK, France, Spain). Now in Denmark, you can sail a boat under 15 m without a license so I have never acquired one. Checking country by country, it doesn't seem entirely clear whether I could just set sail and have no problems with entering countries, or whether I should definitely get the ICC (as it seems to be the most comprehensive license that will be likely accepted in the countries I'm going to).

Does anyone have experience with sailing this route and about license requirements?

Thanks!
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Old 02-08-2020, 14:09   #2
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

Under what flag will he boat be registered, what passport do you have and residency where for you are boat?
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Old 02-08-2020, 15:13   #3
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

Hi and thanks for the response. It's registered under the Danish flag, Dutch passport and Danish residency. Alternatively, if it changes things, can also register boat in Holland
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Old 02-08-2020, 15:14   #4
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I would suggest a minimum of RYA Dayskipper..
Like Denmark the UK does not require a license however the French can be funny about this as can the Portuguese.
I have sailed Denmark through the Kiel Canal and down to Eindhoven but not the bit between there and Ipswich.
From Ipswich to the Med I have sailed a few times.
From Holland or Belgium I would suggest crossing to the UK side and coast hopping along there.. the French side is not a friendly coast with strong tides and drying harbours. Turn South when you reach Falmouth and make the run to Quesant on a good weather window.
From there you have the choice of hopping down the French coast or running nonstop across the Biscay.. about 4 days on your waterline.
Spend some time exploring the Spanish Ria's before heading to Portugal. Be aware, most W Portuguese ports are on estuaries so can be dangerous if there's a big swell running, the sandbars have caught out many a sailboat and even local fishing boats.
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Old 03-08-2020, 03:07   #5
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

Hi boatman61,

Thanks for the extensive reply, appreciate it! Sounds like there's no avoiding getting the license, and better be safe than sorry I suppose.

Would you recommend crossing the channel from Bournemouth/Weymouth to Guernsey? And then following the French coast.

Also, what is your experience in the Kiel channel? Does it require dismantling the mast to be able to cross? And how long does it take approx.?
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Old 03-08-2020, 06:22   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjbori View Post
Hi boatman61,

Thanks for the extensive reply, appreciate it! Sounds like there's no avoiding getting the license, and better be safe than sorry I suppose.

Would you recommend crossing the channel from Bournemouth/Weymouth to Guernsey? And then following the French coast.

Also, what is your experience in the Kiel channel? Does it require dismantling the mast to be able to cross? And how long does it take approx.?
If you want to visit the Channel Islands make the jump from Poole across to Cherbourg/Alderny and choose from there.
As for the Kiel Canal, you are not allowed to navigate at night so basically you get to Kiel and tie up at the quay for the night(exposed and lumpy need lots of fenders), the mast stays up, I was on a 65ft ex Americas Cup boat and that stayed up.. then in the morning around 8am go and hang around the Lock waiting for the Green light. Once in the Lock you tie up and go to the office to pay your fee then wait to go.. be careful on the floating pontoons they are lethal.
The transit took us 2 days, we went into a marina for the night halfway down, heading off the next morning after fueling up.
Arrived around 6pm and went into the marina on the Stbd side right by the lock gates.. nice little town.
It was a pleasant trip, much nicer than the Panama Canal to be honest.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:27   #7
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

I am an American with a full time residency in Germany. I brought my US documented sailboat to The Netherlands in 2009.

I have been "controlled" by Germans, Dutch, British, Channel Islanders, Irish and French customs, immigration and water police. All of the above have accepted the fact that my ship is US flagged, I am a US citizen and as my 36 foot sailboat does not require that I have a license in the US, the above countries understand that. The Dutch don't require licenses for ships under a certain length/horsepower. Germans require a license to fart. Don't know about the others.

I have yet met Spanish, Portuguese, Italians authorities.

...but as I plan to sail as far east as Croatia, the Croats demand everyone have an ICC or specific level of license. There is information on the net about what country you are registered/citizen of and what level of that country's license one must have.

I took an online course with NauticEd, a six hour practical test in Tampa, FL and now I am good to go in all lands. Especially Croatia...

What most of these authorities seem to be interested in is if the ship is VAT paid.

Besides paying VAT to The Netherlands, I wanted to keep my boat in the EU longer than 18 months, I had to put my 1973 Pearson 36 through a Post-Construction Assessment survey that cost another two grand. Sailing in the EU longer than allowed without paying VAT or having a PCA can result in high fines, confiscation of the yacht until any "defects" are remedied.

Personally, I think everyone should have some training and even though I have been sailing for 62 years, I still learned a few things.

About the Kiel Canal. I don't recall paying any fee, but we started in Kiel at the lock gate when the "bell rang" and put the pedal to the metal winding up on the Elbe by 1600. There are places to tie up or dock if you don't want to push it.

Good luck.
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:06   #8
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

Get yourself the RYA Dayskipper, join the RYA for a year and get the ICC. While you don't necessarily need it in some countries proving you have undergone training, understand the basics of the Collision Regulations and are a competent sailor makes sense and can smooth waters in some countries. You might also get a discount on your insurance as an RYA Member (you can also get discounts as a Cruising Association member but they do not do the ICC or Day Skipper).

Croatia does require "proof of competence" for all skippers. The ICC is the easiest and most recognisable and you can get translations of it in many languages (always useful). They will accept other official documentation such as a Master's licence or commercial tickets.

Normally though you are covered by whatever the requirements are for the flag state of the vessel but when we "clear in" or enter another nations waters we should also respect their laws and requirements.

Hope that helps
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Old 03-08-2020, 11:30   #9
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

ICC is a test, Dayskipper is a course, the RYA will issue ICC if you get a dayskipper practical certificate. If you can sail already the ICC test might suit you better than doing a 5 day course.

Edit: Maybe CEVNI for inland.
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:05   #10
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

The RYA courses are well worth doing and coastal skipper would be the appropriate level. I would recommend then whether 'needed' or not. As far as I am aware there are no license requirements for EU coastal waters but there is for any inland waters such as the canals. The trip though Holland on the canals is great so you may want to look at doing that.
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Old 03-08-2020, 18:50   #11
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pirate Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

Quote:
Originally Posted by George DuBose View Post
I am an American with a full time residency in Germany. I brought my US documented sailboat to The Netherlands in 2009.

I have been "controlled" by Germans, Dutch, British, Channel Islanders, Irish and French customs, immigration and water police. All of the above have accepted the fact that my ship is US flagged, I am a US citizen and as my 36 foot sailboat does not require that I have a license in the US, the above countries understand that. The Dutch don't require licenses for ships under a certain length/horsepower. Germans require a license to fart. Don't know about the others.

I have yet met Spanish, Portuguese, Italians authorities.

...but as I plan to sail as far east as Croatia, the Croats demand everyone have an ICC or specific level of license. There is information on the net about what country you are registered/citizen of and what level of that country's license one must have.

I took an online course with NauticEd, a six hour practical test in Tampa, FL and now I am good to go in all lands. Especially Croatia...

What most of these authorities seem to be interested in is if the ship is VAT paid.

Besides paying VAT to The Netherlands, I wanted to keep my boat in the EU longer than 18 months, I had to put my 1973 Pearson 36 through a Post-Construction Assessment survey that cost another two grand. Sailing in the EU longer than allowed without paying VAT or having a PCA can result in high fines, confiscation of the yacht until any "defects" are remedied.

Personally, I think everyone should have some training and even though I have been sailing for 62 years, I still learned a few things.

About the Kiel Canal. I don't recall paying any fee, but we started in Kiel at the lock gate when the "bell rang" and put the pedal to the metal winding up on the Elbe by 1600. There are places to tie up or dock if you don't want to push it.

Good luck.
Transiting the Kiel Canal on recreational craft re-
quires payment of a transit fee in accordance with the
Regulation on Transit Fees for the Kiel Canal (see
https://www.gdws.wsv.bund.de/webcode/1852026
Climbing of the lock walls via the ladders installed in
the lock chambers of Brunsbüttel and Kiel-Holtenau
locks is prohibited. These ladders are for emergency
and rescue purposes only. You cannot pay the transit
fee in the lock chambers.
We offer the following options for paying the transit
fee (see pictures on the right):
• Harbour master Kiel-Holtenau, Tiessenkai
• Two Pay machines (Kiel-Holtenau locks):
1. at the recreational craft berth west of Tiessenkai
2. near the inner waiting area at Kiel-Holtenau
on the north side of the canal (at the floating
landing stages)
• Payment to the lock keeper at Gieselau Lock
• Occasionally at Brunsbüttel at the recreational craft
berth in the Kiel Canal (only if inspector present)

Regarding a license.. In Portimao a Catlac with an Irish flag was stopped from continuing their journey because the skipper nor his wife held any certification.
They could only leave if he took a course or got a skipper to command the boat.
We sailed in on an owner assist I was doing from the UK to Olhau for water and fuel where we met the couple.
We went into the marina office where the owner of my boat said he would be their skipper.. we both sailed a couple of hours later and I picked up the owner 25nm down the coast.. We advised them not to stop in Portugal again but keep going to Spain 50nm further on as they were likely now on the National System.
You may never get asked for your quals but.. better safe than getting into a similar situation.
I have never been asked but then I submit my Coastal Skipper and VHF ticket along with ships papers and insurance every time I clear in.
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Old 03-08-2020, 18:56   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roland stockham View Post
The RYA courses are well worth doing and coastal skipper would be the appropriate level. I would recommend then whether 'needed' or not. As far as I am aware there are no license requirements for EU coastal waters but there is for any inland waters such as the canals. The trip though Holland on the canals is great so you may want to look at doing that.
It depends on your flag.. Many EU countries have stringent rules.. eg Portugal where the basic ticket limits you to 3nm from your home port then another 3 levels..
So some may ask for your quals and consider you fair game.
Also whether the HM's had a hard time with the wife
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Old 04-08-2020, 00:09   #13
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

Hi there, I have spent a lot of time on the coasts of Portugal and southern Spain.... My advice is get the ICC as RYA day Skipper is not really recognised.
Also you may well be asked for it ... I have been checked 9 times in 5 years. They check registration, insurance ICC and often that flares and liferaft are in date. Portugal also requires light dues for the maintenance of Nav buoys... €75 per annum for foreign vessels.
Have a safe trip.
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Old 04-08-2020, 01:05   #14
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

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Originally Posted by Paulmarine2 View Post
Hi there, I have spent a lot of time on the coasts of Portugal and southern Spain.... My advice is get the ICC as RYA day Skipper is not really recognised.
Also you may well be asked for it ... I have been checked 9 times in 5 years. They check registration, insurance ICC and often that flares and liferaft are in date. Portugal also requires light dues for the maintenance of Nav buoys... €75 per annum for foreign vessels.
Have a safe trip.
Good point about flares. France are particularly heavy on that one with large fines if they find time expired ones aboard, even if you have them taped up in a box awaiting disposal with good replacements available.

The RYA Day Skipper is actually a higher qualification than the ICC but you are correct that it often is not recognised as such because officials are told to ask for the ICC, that's partly why the RYA will provide an ICC if you have the Day Skipper or better free for members. You could try to explain but Mr Head meet Mr Wall springs instantly to mind.

We sailed in Croatia for 7 years and were "controlled" 4 times by the Kapitanja (Coastguard) who wanted to see all papers. And the Harbour Master wanted registration for the vignette which covers your navigation dues in Croatia for a year. Marina's tend to want to see 3rd Party Liability cover for a few million at least.
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Old 04-08-2020, 02:34   #15
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Re: European coastal cruising - license needed??

I would get the "Klein vaarbewijs" in NL. It's a theory test which also gets you the ICC. Personally I found it surprising that in NL one could get the ICC after passing a fairly standard exam while in eg the UK I think the RYA also requires a practical exam before issuing an ICC, AFAIK.


Anyway with the credit card format ICC I have been touring Europe quite happily (same route as you are looking at, Haderslev to Genoa so far), it's mandatory in some countries (Croatia?) and I feel if anything does not go according to plan I have something official to show that I am not a complete idiot. Having said all this, all I have ever been asked for is proof of ownership, insurance and a passport, both on arrival and when approached by customs at sea.
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