Transit to France

It took a fair bit of research to find out exactly what we had to do in order to get our boat to France and then to comply with EU Regulations and to cope with the difference in conditions and services. So here is a list of the essentials that have proved to be needed.
ICC (International Certificate of Competence) certification Course with RYA C.E.V.N.I. Test. Completed on board Xenia on March 4th 2014
• Contact; RYA Certification. 023 8060 4100.
• Contact; Willow Wren Training Centre, Rugby. Steve or Izzy. 07970 770565.
• RYA IWHC (Own boat- up to 3 people) £450
• RYA C.E.V.N.I. Test £30 each
• ICC Application – free for members, £43 (non-member) each + £20 (£15 for members) Fast Track Service (2 Day turnaround as opposed to 21 days from receipt of application).
• RYA family membership (DD) £59 pa.
Small Ships Registry. Register of British Ships Part 3.
• Contact: 029 2044 8800. Online application completed 03/12/13. £25.
Maritime Radio Operator Certificate of Competence. Short Range Certificate.
• RYA Training Centre. Completed at Bisham Abbey 23/05/11.
Ship’s Radio Licence – Call sign and MMSI number for VHF, fixed and handheld devices.
Ship’s Radio Licence – ATIS (Automatic Transmitter Identification System) Notice of Variation – ATIS number for fixed VHF – and print out of RAINWAT Bucharest Agreement.
• Ofcom web registration. Free online
Ofcom Licensing Centre 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040. – in 3 languages and some 46 pages each, available as downloads
BSS Certificate. As for UK waters – but this is not a French requirement.
Insurance. Change cruising range from UK to Western European Inland Waters. Insure adequate cover for hoist and transportation (not to rely on haulier’s cover ‘due to their own negligence only’). £96.00 extra premium for cover in transit.
• GJW. Contact Geoff Bradshaw. 0151 4738000
Bill of Sale – VAT Invoice demonstrating proof of ownership and VAT paid/unpaid.
European Health Insurance (EHIC/E121) Cards. This entitles the holder to health care as though he/she is a resident. In France this means paying up front for most services and then reclaiming (in France) one’s entitlement (generally 70%). 0845 606 2030.
• CAXTONfx Visa Currency Card 020 7201 0526
Pre-paid Euro Currency card – free purchases and ATM cash withdrawals linked to UK debit card with free loading via internet or phone. There are a range of service choices with related exchange and or transaction costs.
Mobile telephony and data communications.
Smart phone (unlocked) to receive both calls and data with any sim. Motorola Moto G £129.99. Kept 1 UK sim/contract (existing tel no) and added Vodafone Eurotraveller. Got Sim adaptor to be able to use old handsets as back up. Use existing IPAD but on wifi only (using phone as wifi hotspot) and tether desk top by USB to phone.
• Joe’s mobile for the first year but no longer available so switched to Free which we signed up for online and pay for with UK credit card. €19.99 per month includes 3GB of 3G data + more of 4G data + unlimited French calls, but not texts, and unlimited  landline calls to UK and other countries including USA (mobiles there too). The DBA has a good list of ‘best mobile deals’.
Boat Size; 18.29m x 3.35m x total draft less than 3m. Weight approx: 30 tons.
CPL Transport. Contact. Colin Lumsden. 01233 758126.
• To Nieuwpoort, Belgium. £3,350 + vat £670 = £4,020.
• From Wisbech via Purfleet on a commercial ferry, so no passenger transport in lorry
Point of departure from UK;
Wisbech Harbour.
• Contact; Wisbech Harbour Authority Travel Hoist. £360 inc vat. To lift out. Jamie Hemming. 01945 588059. 1 week notice needed. Access affected by tides.
Point of Arrival Europe;
Nieuwpoort Marina
• Contact; VVW-Nieuwpoort Marina. Thomas Ameloot +32 (0)58 23 52 32. VVW-Nieuwpoort en Vlaamse Zeezeilschool Watersportlaan 118620 Nieuwpoort., . Travel hoist $273
Passenger transport;
Bus to Peterborough X1 (45 mins) – train to Hull Paragon (2 hours) – bus to ferry port (10 mins).
Check in Hull Terminal 2 by 5pm for sailing at 18.30 for arrival Zeebrugge 08.45am.
• P&O Ferries. 2 berth outside cabin and 2 passengers £116.
Take coastal tram ‘De Kusttram’ from Zeebrugge to Nieuwpoort Stad ( 1 hour 37mins). Day pass $7 or $3 for 3 or more zones.
Overnight in hotel/bb near marina for 8.00am boat arrival.
• Tania Clarys, De Arend B&b.
Marktstraat 28 – Nieuwpoort-stad
tel. 058/242402
$90 room for 2 including breakfast.

Belgium. 3 month (dependant on time of year) period $80.
VNF France. ‘Liberte’ 1 year (1st Jan – 31st Dec) $613.24. (7,8$ x length +470,5$) . Discount (17% in 2014 = (613.24 – 104.25) 508.99 ) if purchased before March 31st. £417.88.
• Colecraft Engineering. Long Itchington. 01926 814081. Dom Cole.
Bollards – 2 double to either side of bow well deck gunwale – 2 double to either side of stern deck – welded to gunwhale. £400. For rope work needed in larger continental locks.
Specialist Equipment;
• Socal.
Bullfinch 1301 Adaptor – European Propane (21.8LH Female) to UK Propane Cylinder. £10 +pp. This works fine but I have since been able to buy in a Brico store a French connector which fits onto the existing regulator.
• Lee Sanitation. 01295 770000
Pump out kit – Lee Sanitation manual Self Pump out kit £316.59, includes deck mounting plastic key. Also purchased 2m extension hose to run from roof directly down to river level. We have found that where there are pump-out machines in France they all require a Male Camlock Nipple (deck fitting to 1 and a half inch BSP) and it is good to have one or two of these. Good to have a couple of spares of the LeeSan Sight Glass with Orings too.
• Tradline Rope & Fenders. Braunston Marina, Braunston, Daventry, Northants, NN11 7J Phone: 01788 Website:
Mooring ropes. 2 x 25 m ropes 20mm black staple spun with normal eyes. £125 – we have only very occasionally had to make use of these on the larger commercial waterways but no elsewhere.
Locking ropes. 2 x 12m ropes 16mm black polyester with 2m folded back and spliced to give an eye of about 60cm across. £100
Towing rope – 1 x 30m rope (put 2 existing together) for the Riqueval Tunnel. Use mooring ropes.
6 x black rope shackles (for hanging fenders) £24
• Force4 Chandlery. 0845 1300710 (0207 7485280). 01453 839987 for Lee for VHF Radio
VHF. After a lot of research I have come to the conclusion that a Handheld (portable) which is registered on the ship’s radio licence (as opposed to on a portable radio licence) and ATIS enabled is acceptable in France and Belgium. This means that I do not need fixed and/or 2 VHFs (required for ships over 20m length.)
Radio Ocean Pocket 2400 (handheld). Sent back to Force 4 to be ATIS enabled (free as I bought it from them) – but this should be reversed on return to UK. – ATIS and addition of Channels used in Europe like Channel 31 (some Dutch Marinas). In practice this handset once converted to ATIS can only transmit on ATIS channels (which meets the legal requirements in France but doesn’t get to most locks or any marinas or ports who don’t use ATIS channels!). Other sets are I believe more flexible and therefore useful.
Flags and poles – red ensign and staff for stern –courtesy flags for roof mast, Belgium and France. £52.75
Electric hook up EU adaptor £4.94. Converter from UK 3 pin to Fr 2 pin.
• Homestead Caravans and Outdoor Leisure 01255 830229
Mains Polarity Changeover switch £46.75 but this needs to be professionally fitted.
On further advice purchased 16a 3 pin male and female plug and connector (£3.90) to make up a length of reversed polarity line and a socket tester (£7.10) from Toolstation.
• Halfords, ToolStation, B&Q or similar
Jerry cans – essential kit and with a suitable syphon to easily transfer diesel direct from can to tank
Aluminium and Steel Handtruck (B&Q £24.99). Folds flat and carries up to 80kg. 2 Jerry cans or 1 13kg Gas cylinder
Good length of water hose (the length of the boat plus plus) and a wide range of different connector fittings (the connector click in type being particularly well used in many areas)
Fire extinguishers to meet EU regs. 2 kg for Be. In France these are supposed to be checked/serviced and signed for by a professional every 2 years.
Regulations and Handbooks;
RYA European Waterways Regulations (Tam Murrell) £6.50 + postage
RYA Inland Waterways Handbook. (free with IWHC course)
CEVNI European Code for Inland Waterways ECE-TRANS-SC3-115r4e.pdf
Navigation Interieure: Reglement de Police. Download via DBA website.
Textes Reglementaires: Reglement Particulier. On vnf websites or DBA link.
Barge Handling in France. Tam Murrell. DVD. £20 + postage. DBA or
French-English, English-French. Glossary of boat related words (compiled especially for PP study). Tam Murrell. £3 +pp

Maps and guides; or or DBA or
Cruising French Waterways. Hugh McKnight.
Imray’s ‘Map of the Inland Waterways of France’. £9.95
Inland Waterways of France. David Edwards May. £28.97 + £3.34
Fluvial. Le Guide du Plaisancier. $12
Fluviacarte Guides (these areas not covered by du Breil)
• # 14 Nord Pas de Calais $20
• # 24 Picardie $23 (covers Canal St Quentin in addition to Oise and Somme)
• # 1 Seine Aval $25
• #2 Seine Amont $20
• (#11 Sud)
Editions du Breil. (generally recommended as being ‘better’ and we have found this to be true with the exception of northern France)
• #8 Champagne Ile de France $17.50
• (#13 Oise)
• (#15 Somme)
• #2 Loire Nivernais $18.50
• #11 Bourgogne Nivernais $18.50
• #19 Marne $18.50
• #18 Rhone $18.50

We have since bought additional guides as we go along but finding them in retail outlets/ports is quite haphazard so it is always best to buy in advance of actually needing them.
( ) Other publications considered but not purchased and;
Cruising the Inland Waterways of France and Belgium. Cruising Association. £15.00
RYA Book of the International Certificate of Competence. £11.99 + postage


5 Responses to Transit to France

  1. Neil Payne says:

    Very informative and comprehensive. This could save a lot of heartache and time for others! We are thinking of following Mike and Aileen but probably a year behind so will have loads of experience to learn from. All the best – Neil & Karen nb Chalkhill Blue.

  2. Neil Payne says:

    It’s nearly a year since these responses were made! We are now coming over at the beginning of 2019 so are now starting our more detailed planning. Cheers, Neil

    • xeniaboatlog says:

      Good luck Neil and glad to hear that your plans are progressing. I’m guessing you may have to add a couple of new items to the list if Brexit means leaving the Customs Union (then standard import rules on boats from non-EU countries) and Brits no longer have free movement in the EU and may require long stay visas. It will be interesting to see how it all develops. Charles.

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