RYA re­minds boaters to re­main vig­i­lant

Practical Boat Owner - - News -

Recre­ational boaters have en­joyed the free­dom to come and go from the UK largely as they please for over 25 years. Min­i­mal re­port­ing has been re­quired. But times are chang­ing, and although the sea bor­der cre­ates a nat­u­ral bar­rier, the mi­grant cri­sis in Europe is start­ing to ex­pose its weak­nesses, warns the RYA.

It is in­evitable that a greater de­gree of re­port­ing about voy­ages and peo­ple on board will be re­quired in the fu­ture. How­ever, early in­di­ca­tions from the Home Of­fice sug­gest that this will be of a vol­un­tary na­ture – at least to be­gin with. The RYA is work­ing with the Home Of­fice, in­clud­ing the UK Bor­der Force, to en­sure that what­ever re­port­ing sys­tem is in­tro­duced is prac­ti­cal to use and flex­i­ble, to al­low for the ‘last-minute’ de­ci­sions that weather, main­te­nance and crew avail­abil­ity can cause.

The like­li­hood of find­ing mi­grants in un­suit­able or over­crowded boats around the coast of the UK re­mains low. If you do en­counter mi­grants while un­der way, you are ad­vised to ex­er­cise cau­tion, stand clear and in­form the rel­e­vant search and res­cue ser­vice. A small yacht is un­likely to be able to pro­vide mean­ing­ful as­sis­tance to a boat car­ry­ing a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of mi­grants, and both the yacht and her crew might be put at risk were an at­tempt made to pro­vide as­sis­tance. More­over, even a small num­ber of strangers on board a yacht might be ca­pa­ble of over­whelm­ing the skip­per and crew if minded to do so.

In such cir­cum­stances, in the RYA’s view, SOLAS Chap­ter V (Reg­u­la­tion 33 – Dis­tress Sit­u­a­tions: Obli­ga­tions and pro­ce­dures) does not re­quire the skip­per of a small yacht to in­ter­vene. The rea­sons for not pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance should be noted in the log book.

Whether trail­ing a boat by road or trav­el­ling by wa­ter, boaters should be alert to the pos­si­bil­ity of stow­aways when re­turn­ing to the UK from abroad. Of­fer­ing a lift to the UK to some­one you don’t know could also put you on the wrong side of the law, if that per­son is seek­ing to evade bor­der con­trols, so the RYA urges you to be ex­tremely wary of pick­ing up un­known pas­sen­gers or crew (par­tic­u­larly at the dock­side) in for­eign ports.

Sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity can be re­ported by call­ing your lo­cal po­lice on 101 or Crimestop­pers anony­mously on 0800 555 111, quot­ing ‘KRAKEN’.

Bor­der Force ves­sel CPV Ea­gle at sea

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