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Sailing across the seven seas this summer? Get the top tips here to ensure you have a smooth sail!
Summer holidays don’t have to mean airport queues and cancelled flights. You can always make your own way to your destination, whether that’s over roads or waves. Boat sales are expected to boom in 2022 so if you’re one of those who have decided to try sailing your way through the UK or abroad, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
It sounds obvious but the more you care for your boat the longer it will last and the safer you’ll be when you’re out on the water. Keep an eye on the engine, things like the oil levels, and change the oil every 50-100 running hours. Regularly check all clamps, lines and hoses for wear and tear and leaks. Also check the hardware is well-secured as parts can loosen during the periods of regular use. It’s also worth considering flushing your engine with fresh water after every outing.
In the UK the licencing, qualifications and other legal requirements needed in order to operate a private pleasure craft are minimal, but for safety, some training is advisable. There will be clubs located at marinas and other moorings that should be able to help with all the necessary training, whether you are a beginner or have a bit more experience. Social media groups are also a useful resource.
Although, unlike a car, you don’t need to pass a driving test’ for a boat, there are certain permits, registrations and licences you need in certain waterways or circumstances. There are several navigation authorities that manage the different rivers and canals across the UK, and each has its own licences and fees. If you keep your boat on a certain waterway, you’ll need to renew the licence each year, but you can buy visitor registrations for shorter periods, like holidays. If you want to use your boat at sea, you’ll need to register it with the UK Ship Register. You should also look up the Royal Yachting Association (RYA),the national governing body for boating, and the Canal and River Trust for guidance.
Even the simplest boat is going to be somewhat gadget-dependent so it can operate smoothly. So make sure you fully understand the navigation and safety devices in particular.
Boat technology is very sophisticated these days, with gadgets like gyro stabilisers, magnetic compasses, radars, autopilot systems, depth sounders, an ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display Information System), automatic identification systems, voyage data recorder, GPS receivers, an ARPA (Automatic Radar Plotting Aid), automatic tracking aids, lamps for daylight signalling, pilot cards, distance and speed log devices, navigational lights, forecast lebells and ship flags, to name a few.
Make sure you know how it all works and keep yourself familiarised. You might not have time to work it out in the moment if you suddenly need it!
Some countries specify ports of entry (ports where one may lawfully enter a country), which should be used by a vessel arriving from abroad. It is often a requirement that you proceed by the most direct route to a port of entry on entering territorial waters.
According to the RYA, a vessel arriving in a country (from outside its customs and or immigration territory) should fly the Q flag until it has been given clearance from the authorities. Even once clearance has been given, some countries may require you to report at each port of call or ask to inspect the vessel’s papers periodically.
As the UK is no longer an EU Member State, UK vessels and / or UK citizens may be required to enter and leave the EU and / or the Schengen are using specified ports of entry. Where information is available it can be found on the RYA country pages.
Buy the right insurance
The right type of boat insurance is important for your peace of mind and for your finances. Although some types of home insurance will cover your boat while docked at home, it’s unlikely to protect it while it’s in use.
It is always best to compare boat insurance and boat insurance can be taken out to cover a range of different types of boats, from yachts, motorboats and narrowboats to jet skis and canoes. All policies cover third-party liability claims, and depending on the type of cover you have, may also insure against personal accident, accidental damage including in transit, fire, theft and deliberate damage by a third party. Common exclusions include damage caused while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and theft claims if your boat was left unlocked or unattended.
The UK Summer offers a great opportunity to get boating whether it’s your first time on the water, or the latest of many trips, and, if the UK weather isn’t right, you can sail to sunnier climates. Follow expert advice and a bit of common sense and, with the right insurance in place, it can be a unique and hugely enjoyable experience.
If you would like to read more about boating activities for the summer or even autumn, check out our main blog page and find a catalogue of tips and to do lists.