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Old 04-06-2021, 15:03   #1
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English Channel - A political/migration question

Not sure if this is an acceptable topic so feel free to dismiss/delete (move to rules of road and red tape?) but having been reading a few migration stories in the past few days....

1) Do day sailors or weekend channel crossing sailors come across migrant inflatables - at all? infrequently? Or is it a common place thing to come across a small boat or hear frequent radio traffic on this topic.
2) If you do come across a migrant inflatable, is a recreational vessel obligated to offer assistance? Or do you keep clear and report? Or maybe just look at a well loaded inflatable 5-10 miles out as an anomaly but unless a distress signal is given, none of anyones business?
3) How does that assistance work French vs British, since the migrant is not desiring a life in France but instead residency in the UK. Do French boats tow them back to French ports vs British to UK ports?
4) Does it affect regular recreational sailing? Border officials making checks on vessels etc.
5) Is the market distorted for dinghys and outboards? I would expect high prices on the french coast and a glut in the UK.

Or is it all not really "a thing" and it's blown out of proportion by the press?

And is this just a sizeable issue in the UK? Or does this crop up in San Diego? Northen coast of Australia? Straits of Gibraltar? etc.
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Old 13-06-2021, 03:17   #2
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

I have no direct experience of this so have been reluctant to reply. Perhaps the same applies to other UK forum members which should partially answer your questions. Take anyone else's opinion over mine here...

I understand that migrants mostly try to cross the channel at its narrowest point (<20NM) between Calais and Dover). 60NM west of Dover where I'm based it's 60NM wide. Of course the tides are strong and these folks can't necessarily calculate a CTS so reported landings are quite widespread across the kent and sussex coast.

Dover is a big commercial port. There's a not-too-glamourous marina there but (and correction/criticism accepted on this point) for recreational boaters it's not somewhere you'd choose to keep your boat if you didn't live there: it's a handy passage stop for boats heading up/down channel to/from northern europe, the thames estuary and the UK wast coast but it's not really a prime cruising ground.

So bottom line: a tiny fraction of the UK's recreational boaters will be in the area. Given the boats passing through the areas and the supposed number of crossings, encounters must happen but I've never seen one discussed on a UK yachting forum. I last crossed there 2 years ago and heard/saw nothing.

Q2: We are all bound by SOLAS V Reg 33, and many of us are also bound by our humanity and conscience. That being said we also have a duty of care to our own crew and transferring 20+ migrants from a rubber boat to a small yacht in open water is not a "safe" operation for any party. The accepted (citation needed?) course of action is to call the coastguard who will dispatch border force / lifeboats as necessary while you stand by. Given the speed of the vessels used by those agencies they could be there in minutes. With imminent threat to life / people in the water I'd act while waiting, but this would be a risk assessment by any skipper.

Q3: Depends on whose territorial waters they're in when "rescued". I've not heard of boats other than lifeboats / border force picking up migrants. If picked up in French waters by the French authorities they should be taken back to france. If in uk waters by uk authorities, they should be taken to the UK for asylum processing (assuming they request asylum). If a recreational boater rescued migrants in the channel (and I haven't heard of this happening other) they'd be putting themselves in a very dubious situation if they crossed an international border with them.

Q4: No. There's been a number of reports on UK yachting forums about encounters with border force. Some of these are not very positive (being boarded by black clad men in balaclavas from a black rib) but such encounters are rare and don't seem proportional to the rubber boat migrant crossings.

Q5. Not that I'm aware of. I read some reports that the rubber boats and outboards were donated to the RNLI (I don't know what they do with them). Given that France is probably the most watersports obsessed country in the world, I doubt a few hundred dinghies and outboards will distort the market. Perhaps a French forum member can comment on whether there is bureaucracy one has to go through to buy an outboard in hauts-de-france resulting from the current situation.
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Old 13-06-2021, 03:32   #3
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English Channel - A political/migration question

Migrants crossing the English Channel by dinghy isnít a big feature. Most migrants donít seek entry into the U.K. anyway most dissipate around Northern Europe in the main.

Encounters with U.K. border forces remain limited in my experience and most boaters will be unlikely to encounter them.
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Old 13-06-2021, 03:32   #4
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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Originally Posted by cuthbert View Post
And is this just a sizeable issue in the UK? Or does this crop up in San Diego? Northen coast of Australia? Straits of Gibraltar? etc.
With respect to Australia, you might want to read the Wikipedia article on the 2001 "Tampa affair" and note that the crew of the MV Tampa in 2002 received the Nansen Refugee Award and the captain was named "Captain of the Year" by the Nautical Institute and Lloyd's List:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampa_affair
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Old 13-06-2021, 04:48   #5
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pirate Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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Migrants crossing the English Channel by dinghy isnít a big feature. Most migrants donít seek entry into the U.K. anyway most dissipate around Northern Europe in the main.

Encounters with U.K. border forces remain limited in my experience and most boaters will be unlikely to encounter them.
Considering over 7,000 illegals have crossed by dinghy so far this year I beg to differ..
If you calculate say 10/dinghy that's an average of 38 dinghies a day.. seems a pretty big feature to me...
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Old 13-06-2021, 05:28   #6
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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Considering over 7,000 illegals have crossed by dinghy so far this year I beg to differ..
That would mean more than 4000 crossed in the past fortnight which I doubt:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...-levels-in-may

Use of the term "illegals" to refer to migrants by speakers of British english implies a strongly anti-immigration stance on behalf of the speaker. I suspect most of us can agree that this is a sailing forum and it's best if we avoid politics and stick to the subject of sailing. The question was about impact of channel migrants on recreational sailing. I assert that's close to zero, but obviously anyone is welcome to challenge that.
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Old 13-06-2021, 06:00   #7
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pirate Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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That would mean more than 4000 crossed in the past fortnight which I doubt:
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...-levels-in-may

Use of the term "illegals" to refer to migrants by speakers of British english implies a strongly anti-immigration stance on behalf of the speaker. I suspect most of us can agree that this is a sailing forum and it's best if we avoid politics and stick to the subject of sailing. The question was about impact of channel migrants on recreational sailing. I assert that's close to zero, but obviously anyone is welcome to challenge that.
I guess that would depend on your sources.. the Guardian is famously biased in its interpretations to suit its readers and their politics..

I would also be obliged if you would not try to label me anti-immigrant, I am not, I am however against people who do not follow official procedures for entering a country as I willingly have to do... they have passed through safe countries to reach the French coast so they have lost 'refugee status'.
It does affect sailing in the Med and I have been challenged a few times at night along the Italian coast, Greek islands and along the coast of E Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar.. but the last is also a big drug smuggling area.
Last time I was in the Channel was pre Pandemic so cannot comment on this or the last year.

Re the 7000, seems I got the wrong year in my search and that was the total for the period till Sept 2020... this is the latest I found.

https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post...rs-of-migrants...
02/06/2021 ∑ 3,500 crossed the Channel to UK this year. The UK government has said that this year to date, 3,500 people have successfully crossed the Channel. The UK government has vowed to crack down hard on the people smugglers who are bringing people across the Channel, after more than 8,000 arrived by that route in 2020

This still represents well over 20/day, much more if you take into consideration bad weather stopping trips.
PS: The numbers above relate only to those boats intercepted by the Coastguard, empty dinghies are often found along the coast and their occupants long gone.
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Old 13-06-2021, 06:41   #8
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

While it is 16 years since I crossed the Channel, I regularly sail between Cuba and the Florida Keys and while I have not encountered Cuba migrants I have twice encountered the abandoned raft/boats they come on.

We would never allow a dozen disparate people to board our boat, they have a vested interest in preventing you calling the USCG. We would call the USCG and stand by to save lives if necessary. We would apply the same strategy in the Channel.
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Old 13-06-2021, 08:23   #9
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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I would also be obliged if you would not try to label me anti-immigrant, I am not, I am however against people who do not follow official procedures for entering a country as I willingly have to do...
Again, the term "illegals" implies a negative moral judgement and is associated with a certain political outlook. Everyone is entitled to their views but whereas a discussion of the impact of migration on recreational sailing in the UK/France or appropriate action on encountering migrant boats are relevant sailing questions for the sailing forum, the politics or morality of migration is probably a topic best saved for elsewhere.
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Old 13-06-2021, 08:40   #10
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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While it is 16 years since I crossed the Channel, I regularly sail between Cuba and the Florida Keys and while I have not encountered Cuba migrants I have twice encountered the abandoned raft/boats they come on.

We would never allow a dozen disparate people to board our boat, they have a vested interest in preventing you calling the USCG. We would call the USCG and stand by to save lives if necessary. We would apply the same strategy in the Channel.


How would you stop them boarding
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Old 13-06-2021, 08:42   #11
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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I guess that would depend on your sources.. the Guardian is famously biased in its interpretations to suit its readers and their politics..

I would also be obliged if you would not try to label me anti-immigrant, I am not, I am however against people who do not follow official procedures for entering a country as I willingly have to do... they have passed through safe countries to reach the French coast so they have lost 'refugee status'.
It does affect sailing in the Med and I have been challenged a few times at night along the Italian coast, Greek islands and along the coast of E Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar.. but the last is also a big drug smuggling area.
Last time I was in the Channel was pre Pandemic so cannot comment on this or the last year.

Re the 7000, seems I got the wrong year in my search and that was the total for the period till Sept 2020... this is the latest I found.

https://www.infomigrants.net/en/post...rs-of-migrants...
02/06/2021 ∑ 3,500 crossed the Channel to UK this year. The UK government has said that this year to date, 3,500 people have successfully crossed the Channel. The UK government has vowed to crack down hard on the people smugglers who are bringing people across the Channel, after more than 8,000 arrived by that route in 2020

This still represents well over 20/day, much more if you take into consideration bad weather stopping trips.
PS: The numbers above relate only to those boats intercepted by the Coastguard, empty dinghies are often found along the coast and their occupants long gone.


Yes but in the scheme of things itís not a big issue. In so much as the op framed the question you are very unlikely to come in contact with border police at sea round the coasts of the U.K.
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Old 13-06-2021, 08:46   #12
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English Channel - A political/migration question

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Originally Posted by cuthbert View Post
Not sure if this is an acceptable topic so feel free to dismiss/delete (move to rules of road and red tape?) but having been reading a few migration stories in the past few days....

1) Do day sailors or weekend channel crossing sailors come across migrant inflatables - at all? infrequently? Or is it a common place thing to come across a small boat or hear frequent radio traffic on this topic.
2) If you do come across a migrant inflatable, is a recreational vessel obligated to offer assistance? Or do you keep clear and report? Or maybe just look at a well loaded inflatable 5-10 miles out as an anomaly but unless a distress signal is given, none of anyones business?
3) How does that assistance work French vs British, since the migrant is not desiring a life in France but instead residency in the UK. Do French boats tow them back to French ports vs British to UK ports?
4) Does it affect regular recreational sailing? Border officials making checks on vessels etc.
5) Is the market distorted for dinghys and outboards? I would expect high prices on the french coast and a glut in the UK.

Or is it all not really "a thing" and it's blown out of proportion by the press?

And is this just a sizeable issue in the UK? Or does this crop up in San Diego? Northen coast of Australia? Straits of Gibraltar? etc.


1. My friends have not but then 2020 2021 are not normal years

2. You are obliged to help but whether you do is up to you.

3 French bring theirs back to France , U.K. brings theirs to the U.K. you canít arbitrarily repatriate without reciprocal agreement.

4. As I said certainly in 2019 it did not impinge on recreational boating

5. No obvious effect on the dinghy market

Refugees on boats occurs in several places on the Med , the canaries and so forth.
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Old 13-06-2021, 08:49   #13
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

Goboatingnow,

Standard naval procedure…a warning shot across the bow!
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Old 13-06-2021, 08:53   #14
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pirate Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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Again, the term "illegals" implies a negative moral judgement and is associated with a certain political outlook. Everyone is entitled to their views but whereas a discussion of the impact of migration on recreational sailing in the UK/France or appropriate action on encountering migrant boats are relevant sailing questions for the sailing forum, the politics or morality of migration is probably a topic best saved for elsewhere.
No.. it implies an illegal act, morality does not come into it.
Using your definition charging a squatter with illegally entering your property while your on holiday would be an immoral judgement.. or a burglar come to that.
If I enter the USA without clearing in and am caught I face either immediate deportation or imprisonment followed by deportation.
The Law is the Law and all should be subject to it.
My Pakistani brother settled in the USA, my Pakistani sister settled in Canada legally... so go swivel on your 'morality'
Suggest you read the title of the thread..
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Old 13-06-2021, 10:20   #15
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Re: English Channel - A political/migration question

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No.. it implies an illegal act, morality does not come into it.
You are entirely missing the point. "Illegal migrant" would be a purely descriptive term with no apparent subtext. Use of the adjective as a noun, ie "illegals" is a very particular linguistic device used exclusively by those who embrace a certain style of politics, one aspect of which is strong views on migration.

To repeat: the OP's question about the impact of illegal migration on recreational boating (and to repeat: negligible in the UK) and procedure on encountering migrant boats is a perfectly legitimate topic for a seamanship subforum. Divisive political opinion not directly related to boating is better confined to an off-topic subforum.
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