The government's E-Borders scheme could mean the monitoring of crew making international voyages


Yachtsman making an international voyage to or from the UK could be required to check in and out when the Government fully implements its new E-Borders scheme in two years’ time. The scheme already makes it compulsory for commercial carriers to submit electronically detailed passenger, service and crew data.

According to the Royal Yachting Association, the Department for Transport (DfT) has not yet thought in detail how E-Borders would apply to recreational boaters, but skippers could have to enter all their voyage details online in advance or, in the worst case scenario, clear in and out of nominated reporting points. This would make an impromptu Channel crossing, for example, impossible.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, tells me: “E-Borders is being rolled out across all of the UK but it’s not clear how it will be applied to us. Officials [from the DfT] have admitted that they haven’t got round to deep thought about how it would be implemented, or if it would be implemented, to recreational boaters.”

“It raises lots of questions about sailing to a different destination, making last-minute changes to a voyage and making crew changes,” he admits.

The RYA is due to meet with the DfT later this month, and if E-Borders is to be pushed though, will be arguing for a system based on the movement of people and not of boats.

When I ask him if we can really have any confidence in the RYA’s persuasion powers over government, however, Stuart Carruthers says: “They didn’t listen to the commercial carriers in sea ports and it has been done whether they like it or not.”