The Government's marine safety agency is warning yachtsmen intending to take part in Bob Geldof's cross Channel Sail8 to take proper precautions

Following this morning’s story about the launch of Bob Geldof’s Sail8 event to bring people by private yacht across the Channel to his anti poverty rally in Scotland, the Maritime and Coastguard has issued the following statement:

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is warning members of the public to take safety precautions before setting to sea as part of Bob Geldof’s Sail 8 initiative.  The Agency is happy to discuss these and other issues with Bob Geldof’s team before the event and look forward to their early contact to discuss the safety arrangements for this operation.

Harry Leslie, Area Operations Manager for the Southern Region says:

The safest way to travel to the UK is by ferry, Channel Tunnel or air.  However, for those who intend travelling to the UK by private boat or charter vessel the following should be taken into consideration.

Any vessel must be crewed by a competent crew and the craft must have the appropriate safety equipment onboard.

A working VHF DSC must be carried onboard. Please note that mobile phones cannot be relied upon at sea.  Mobiles have their place on land, but at sea they are notoriously unreliable and the primary means of communication should always be VHF DSC radio. That said, if people need to contact the Coastguard via phone in an emergency, they should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. In this way they will come straight into a Coastguard Operations Room and speak to a Coastguard direct.

“Lifejackets are lifesavers and it is essential that there should be enough lifejackets onboard vessels for all those onboard. Flares should also be kept onboard in case of an emergency – your local Coastguard can give advice.

“It is also very important that someone onshore is aware that a vessel is setting to sea, as well as an expected time of arrival. That way, if a vessel has not returned on time, the alarm can be raised.

“Before setting to sea, members of the public should ensure that they have taken account of weather conditions and tides.  This information can be gained from the Meteorological Office and the Hydrographic Office, or  the local Coastguard Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

“It is very important that people take into consideration the limitations of their vessel and that the vessel does not become overloaded.  Commercial vessels have statutory limitations regarding the numbers of passengers which they should carry.  These should be strictly adhered to.  Operators of commercial vessels intending to take part are further reminded that the terms of their certification will apply regardless of whether the passengers carried are fare paying or not.”

“Up to 500 vessels use the Dover Strait per day.  It is arguably the busiest shipping lane in the world.  Therefore  those intending to cross the Dover Strait, should ensure that international collision regulations are abided by, in particular rule 10 which covers the traffic separation scheme for the Dover Strait.  The fact that large commercial ships have limited maneuverability should be born in mind.  With a possibly large number of small craft crossing the channel en masse, they may have very limited options in being able to take avoiding action in close quarters situations.  Skippers should not work on the assumption that the traditionally held view that “steam gives way to sail” applies.

“Further information regarding preparations to be made before setting to sea can be obtained by visiting”

More information on Sail8 here