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