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Old 12-08-2004
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French port info, please...

I''d like to collect information on cruisers'' experiences with Customs (Douan) officials in French ports (France only, not dependencies) and would welcome anyone to post their answers to these simple questions below in this thread:

For ports WHERE YOU WERE BOARDED (or where you otherwise had formal contact with Douan officials):
1. Which port(s)?
2. When?
3. What if any issues were raised by the Douan official(s)?

(I''m hoping to assemble a loose list of which French Provinces present more/fewer difficulties to non-French yachtsmen, if not to dispell rumor then at least to illustrate it. While there are yachtie-unfriendly issues like Spain''s ''wealth tax'' or Greece''s difficult-to-predict cruising fees, the biggest unknown I hear about is how a given French customs official in a given French port will react to a non-French boat. Thus, this request for info).

Thanks!

Jack
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Old 12-08-2004
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French port info, please...

Hello Jack - can''t help you directly with your search. However, I''d be inclined to visit www.ybw.com and post on Yachting Monthly''s "Scuttlebutt" message board. Lots of UK and EU sailors to access.
Cheers, Ron
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Old 12-08-2004
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French port info, please...

Ron, that''s a good suggestion; I haven''t been there in many months. Thanks!

Jack
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Old 12-09-2004
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French port info, please...

Jack...also try ybw livaboard.

You may know all this but just in case....

1. Not specific to France but the question of ICC (International Certificate of Competence) is becoming rife in EU for visiting skippers and I expect with other countries who signed up to the UN Resolution 40. Even if not always stricly needed, (usually visiting skippers under their own flag are exempt) EU Port Captains frequently apply the rules as they see fit. E.g. In June British boat evicted from Montenegro on entry. Skipper had ICC but left it in UK. Offered to get copy faxed but as it was a week-end office was closed. He had to leave by shortest route or in "big trouble". Have a nice day!

2. Also if you venture onto EU canals/inland waters skippers need additional qual''n on rules and regs, (called a CEVNI). UK based skippers can take both ICC/CEVNI at the same time thro'' RYA short course. These are fast becoming essential for boating abroard (from UK). So far UK has not caught the EU bureaucratic virus.

3. If en-route to Med France note that Portugal has also re-introduced Circ''n Tax this year after 7 year lapse. Each harbour now has authorities set-up to control. Tax becomes operational after 180 days in country and based on boat''s hp, tonnage, year of build.

4. From June, third party insurance is now compulsory for vessls over 7m in Portugese waters (and overseas territories, I guess) for minimum 250,000 Euro.

Hope I''ve not stretched the brief too much.

Cheers, Ron

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Old 12-09-2004
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French port info, please...

Ron, I notice a flurry of expressed concern about an ICC being required for foreign yachtsman but little evidence it is actually needed by non-EU yachts. By bi-lateral & multi-party treaty, EU countries are required to accept a vessel''s compliance with its own registration requirements, not the country being visited. It supposedly gets stickier when one enters the canals, where ICC papers are ''required'' but I see little evidence this is true in practice. (E.g. we did the Kiel Canal twice and the entire length of The Netherlands in canals this past season; never heard/saw the issue being raised by anyone, to anyone). For more info on this, folks can visit www.noonsite.com/Members/doina/R2002-11-29-2/viewhttp://www.noonsite.com/Members/doina/R2002-11-29-2/view where both a typical, sweeping lament is stated and also some real-world advice.

Having said all this, I carry several USCGA certificates which - based on others'' experiences - will work fine with port officials because they will likely be seen as evidence of proficiency in the U.S. Power Squadron certificates are another example.

You mention Portugal''s "Circ''n Tax" - can you say a bit more? It sounds at first blush like Spain''s ''Wealth Tax'' which can be imposed after 180 days, but which I have only found one example of actually being levied so far.

I disagree about saying the UK hasn''t caught the EU bureaucratic virus; it''s just in a different form. In many ways, the Brits are far more thorough at creating paper pathways to implement EU rules. They just fail at implementation (along with many other EU countries, I might add). I can offer some pretty laughable examples of the Brit officials admitting their rules are so overlapping and complex that the administering officials can''t even decipher them. At least they offer a bit of typically-British humor and pleasant reasonableness along with their organizational incompetence. By contrast, the French seem less diligent about uniform rules and more inclined to act based on provincial understandings (which often times can be self-serving, financially).

WRT liability insurance, what''s your source for the statement that Portugal (the country) requires it? I''d like to follow up on that. Insofar as I''m aware, where this is imposed in Europe, it''s typically by marinas and private operators, not by national govts.

Jack
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French port info, please...

Jack, This month the RYA has issued an update on EU provisions. That''s the timely source I was using in response to your quiry.

Since 1999 ICC has been a rolling process. If a country is signed up to UN Res 40 it''s likely to apply it. Therefore, my understanding is that it''s not just an EU quirk. Yes, there are compliance regs for non Res 40 countries but as you joked the complexity of rules and interpretations between officialdom and the local HM lead to inconsistant application. That''s the main point. Take what you will, I think it''s an issue worth bringing to the attention of ''innocent'' sailors visiting EU perhaps from more relaxed parts of the world. Like you, it''s essential they have their national competence documentation with them.

The canals/waterways requirement in mainland EU is different. Apart from ICC you need to have CEVNI. I think this will impact everyone as it is specifically about the rules and regs approriate to EU canal/IWs. It particularly effects UK based yachts shortcutting thro'' France to the Med. My experience of France - lived there for 2 years - is that they will enforce these regs., if they''re not already doing so.

Portugese Circulation Tax has been reintroduced and has to be paid by all local vessels (like a car tax) and by foreign vessels after 180d in Port. waters. Its reported every harbour has a goverment office to admin the tax. Yes, Jack, it''s just like the Spanish wealth tax. See www.rya.org for more details.

Third party insurance - this is a Portugese national compulsory requirment effective from June 04. It applies "within Portugese waters".

Many UK sailors (and marine authorities) see EU threatening our freedoms. RYA are fighting to keep them at bay and a lot of the "incompetence" you refer to is professional blind eye to the mess we''re in. Something to rejoice, for if THEY threw the book at us I''d take up golf.

Cheers, Ron.

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French port info, please...

Ron, thanks for the thorough reply. I didn''t realize things were so serious that golf was a possibility. <g>

Your comments about the ICC don''t seem inconsistent with my general take on the matter: despite lots of hand waving over here in the U.S., it appears there are easy ways in which non-EU yachts & their crews can demonstrate ''paper competence'' when they are requested. And I should add: these requests appear to still be very, very rare from all the reports I hear (fellow cruisers, SSCA Bulletins, personal experience). This issue is certainly not a complication that should cause a non-EU sailor to reconsider visiting Europe.

I''m not familiar with CEVNI. My limited exposure to canals in W Europe is that each country establishes, publishes & administers their own rules in their own fashion, rather than there being an EU standard. E.g. the Dutch have their (in)famous Deel 1 (Dutch language only, if you please), the Germans their Kiel Canal Regs, the French their Canal rules, the Brits their Inland Waterways System. Who issues the CEVNI ''certificate'' and what does it...err, ''certify''? I must admit I''m a bit doubtful a single set of rules does or will ever exist inside multiple national waterways, even if EU-wide ones exist. (My impression is that the EU is less successful than the EU bureaucrats like to admit at eliminating national regulations when Brussels'' regs are added.)

I''ll check the RYA website and appreciate the referral. Your closing observations about increasing regulation is absolutely on target, and it does dampen the pleasure and increase the risk for a foreign yachtsman. In the Caribbean, the rule of thumb is that the officials are friendly and easy to work with (or disinterested altogether) but that the wretched living conditions and local island economies can breed rampant petty theft and occasionally serious bodily harm. In Europe the risks seem to come from bureaucrats and officials at every level while the cruising venues are hospitable and all but crime free. The saving grace in all this is that, in some places and despite centuries of Euro officials perfecting rules, procedures and taxes, local officials are less than enthusiastic about enforcing them. In Europe, it often seems as tho'' the rules are there to be applied when a problem arises, rather than to be applied uniformly or with vigor. Or at least that''s the general sense I''m getting...

Jack
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French port info, please...

Jack, I think your take on the ICC is crack-on from a US visitor''s viewpoint. Forewarned is forearmed should suffice. I think some of the heat on this subject may have wafted over the pond from us Brits. As signaturees of the UN 40 it impacts us directly and is now becoming significant - unlike you guys who never sign anything! RYA are cautioning UK sailors; "..advise you..strongly..to carry an ICC whenever you are boating abroad".

Jack, I too am hazy on the CEVNI. I''ve today applied for the syllabus and will give you the heads-up if anything juicy transpires. Feedback I''ve had confirms it''s generic to EU countries, which individually nominate a validating authority, as with ICC, (RYA for us). The rub is that each country, and maybe each HM/lock-keeper, seem to be left to apply it within their jurisdiction, or not, as you experienced.

BTW Jack, in answer to your earlier question, Kuranda Marine are exhibiting at the London Boat Show. They are main distributors for Kabola, Lockgate, Refleks, Sigmar, Dickinson and Wallis - all diesel stove/oven manufacturers. I''ve got an appointment with Kuranda post Show. Disappointed Taylors are not listed but maybe they''re hidden behind a distributor. Have friends with Refleks and Taylors - both very impressive.

Cheers for now, Ron

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Old 12-10-2004
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French port info, please...

Thanks again, Ron. I did take a look at the CEVNI info a non-member can view on the RYA site, along with some other ICC and canal-related info there. Each topic offered its own clear view on things but, when rolled together, the content is schizophrenic as anticipated: EU rules exist but national rules apply, and so it appears there''s just a 2nd, add''l layer of regs, if anyone needs them.

"As signaturees of the UN 40 it impacts us directly and is now becoming significant - unlike you guys who never sign anything!"
Boy, isn''t that the truth. We seem destined for another 4 years with our Cowboy in the saddle, ladling on more debt and clueless about the world around us. I thought those times were over when Ron and Nancy changed the location of their garden parties...

Are you shopping for a cooking stove or heating stove? If the latter, Force 10 in Canada just picked up another brand that is good value.

Jack
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Old 12-15-2004
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French port info, please...

Sorry I can''t answer your question as I am only in Spain, but I am interested in the Spanish wealth tax. Can you elaborate? Thanks. Barb
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