Please do some dredg­ing!

Yachting Monthly - - LETTERS - Bar­ney Green Marco Thyssen

I re­cently re­turned from a frus­trat­ing trip to Brighton via Gosport. I sail a silly deep boat (2.7m draught), but as a re­sult I am care­ful about tide, time, and depth.

Brighton Ma­rina does not have 2m be­low chart da­tum as in­di­cated in Reeds. On en­ter­ing at about half-tide, I was ad­vised to go to East­bourne but, af­ter a care­ful sounder sur­vey, I found a berth in which I would just touch at low wa­ter. I was in their deep­est berth, ev­ery­where else had much less. In four days there were nu­mer­ous ground­ings. The ma­rina’s staff said they in­tended to dredge and there was a mini dredger on the vis­i­tors’ berths but it did not move dur­ing our stay.

Ear­lier I stayed at Gosport Ma­rina. Again I men­tioned my draught and was given a berth near the Clip­per fleet, which draws 3m. I lost two hours of my planned pas­sage time try­ing to get out. They had 2.1m in the main chan­nel at low wa­ter (tide was 1.0m), con­trary to the claimed depths. Again they ‘plan’ to dredge.

It is a skip­per’s duty to do his sums, and I am re­spon­si­ble for the berths I ac­cept (and pay for), but we need ac­cu­rate data. Might I sug­gest some warn­ings for these mari­nas un­til they con­firm that they have ac­tu­ally done some dredg­ing? (try get­ting to the Orkneys and back on a sin­gle tank...). I've seen the po­lice scour­ing the pon­toons in Nieuw­poort, but have been lucky to es­cape no­tice!

I was and re­main a cam­paigner for red diesel for yachts but, af­ter long dis­cus­sions with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, have also re­alised that in the end the UK is at fault for not im­ple­ment­ing an EU Reg­u­la­tion. To use a foot­balling anal­ogy, you can't say ‘I want to play Euro­pean foot­ball’ and then uni­lat­er­ally not recog­nise the off­side rule.

If it is any con­so­la­tion, cruis­ers based in Bel­gium who want to visit the UK need to fill in a special Schen­gen form and leave this with the po­lice/cus­toms. Again Brexit has been men­tioned as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for rein­tro­duc­ing a form that I thought had gone out of the win­dow years and years ago. The sys­tem, like the pro­posed new UK bor­der con­trol sys­tem, is in prac­ti­cal terms un­work­able for your av­er­age cruis­ing sailor.

It smacks of bully-ad­min­is­tra­tion, and a poor jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for know­ing who is com­ing and go­ing into the coun­try. But it is back and fines are be­ing handed out to un­sus­pect­ing Bel­gium-based yachts go­ing to the UK and back.

This li­brary shot shows that dredg­ing is done, but per­haps it needs to be done more of­ten

Marco Thyssen, a Kiwi sail­ing a Dutch-flagged yacht based in Bel­gium, sym­pa­thises on red diesel but coun­sels against the ‘have cake, eat it’ mind­set

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