Benfleet Creek provides a gateway to the Thames Estuary and beyond. For local cruising (just a few hours away), we have the Rivers Medway and Swale with their wonderful creeks, towns, pubs and anchorages. A bit further afield (a short day sail), there are the superb cruising grounds of the East Coast Rivers. For a great summer cruise, we are not too far away from the northern coast of France and Belgium and the vast inland waterways of The Netherlands. The one advantage of cruising from our drying tidal creek is that it makes you get out there; to make use of a full day or weekend away sailing. Many of our members have worked the tides for most of their life and still enjoy our unique position. We hold a number of weekend 'cruises-in-company' throughout the summer, many with a drink and BBQ, or a meal ashore, providing a good social get-together.
Typical BYC cruise destinations are:
- Calais - The annual Calais Rally takes place on the late May Bank Holiday weekend
- Chatham Marina
- Medway Yacht Club
- Stangate Creek
- Up the Thames to London - St Katherines Dock Marina or Limehouse Basin
- Harty Ferry
- Burnham on Crouch
Calendar of Cruising Events
Full details of all future BYC 'Cruising' events can be found in the
The above link connects to the BYC central events calendar, but has been filtered to Cruising Events only
Alternatively, you can download a PDF copy of the Benfleet Yacht Club Tide Table Booklet from the link below
Cruising outside UK waters "post Brexit" (guides and forms)
Please treat the information below as 'guidance only'. Both the regulations and the current understanding of them are likely change over the course of time. Both the RYA and Cruising Association are actively campaigning the UK Government to review and drive improvements to many aspects of these. Many regulations, procedures and systems still have to be put in place. The following text has been written by Paul Field (Beowulf) based on personal boating travels back from the Eu in summer 2021, plus extensive reading. This information will be updated as soon as new details become available. If anyone has a different knowledge, please let me know. Click here to send an email.
Now that the UK has left the EU, UK cruising sailors face a whole new raft of regulations and restrictions when venturing across the channel. These include the following :
- The UK is now treated as a "Third Country" by the EU. For most UK citizens, visa free visits to any of the 26 EU Schengen countries will be limited to 90 days in each rolling period of 180 days. So, a 10 day long Skiing trip in March will potentially affect your extended summer cruise in EU waters (reducing it to 80 days only). Take the last day of your planned 'summer cruise', then count backwards over the past 180 days. Also make an allowance that you may get stuck in a foreign port due to bad weather, which may take you over the 90 day limit.
- You may have to enter each country via an official "port of entry".
- Arrival into Schengen EU will be recorded in your Passport.
- You must also get your Passport stamped when both entering and prior to "exiting" the EU. The latter being very important in order to 'stop-the-clock-ticking': the count on the number of days that you have stayed within the EU. You potentially face being fined, or other penalties being imposed, if the 90 days are exceeded. In France for example, this is conducted by the 'Police Au Frontiers' (Boarder Police) department, which can be found in most ferry ports. In Calais, you will need to walk round to the Ferry Port. The boarder police are located way out in the back of the site where access on foot is not easy (see "Download" area below to view a map showing location). However, if entering or leaving via Dunkirk, the Police Au Frontier office is located 11 miles away in the ferry port Dunkirk West.
- UPDATE to the above: The following on-line (web based) systems are due to be introduced in the future:
- 1) EES (Entry and Exit System) is scheduled to be introduced during the middle of 2022. The EES will record the movement of non-EU citizens across the Schengen Zone (SZ) borders and ensure that the 90/180 day requirement is adhered to.
- 2) ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) in 2023. The ETIAS will give border control authorities the ability to ensure that those entering the SZ are no security threat to any country in the bloc a travel authorisation for those not required to obtain a visa to enter the SZ.
- Prior to both departing from and returning to the UK, you must notify the UK Border Force / Customs by completing form 'C1331' using one of the two following methods:
- completing an Excel version, known as 'eC1331' and submitting this via email. This is the preferred method,
- completing by the paper version Form C1331 Dec 2020.pdf and submitting this by post. Send Part 1 on departure & Part 2 on return into the UK.
Further details and instructions are included within both versions of this form. The Excel version (eC1331) asks for a UN Locator code (UN Locode) of the UK departure and arrival point. A list of these codes can be found by selecting this link. For example, Benfleet is listed under South Benfleet with code 'GB SBF'.
- When both entering EU waters and returning to UK waters, you must now fly the Yellow "Q Flag".
- On return to the UK: telephone the UK Government "National Yachtline" immediately.
- HMRC advise that you to carry evidence of the yacht's VAT status on board when venturing overseas.
- Potential Yacht VAT issues for some (eg: if boat has been outside of the UK for more than three years). UPDATE: as of January 2022, the VAT issue has been retracted for boats that have been "previously based in the UK".
- Note: the VAT issues relate to the 'movement of goods' (the boat in this case), whilst the Schengen travel restrictions affect the movement of citizens.
- Restriction on goods etc. that you can take out of and bring back into the UK.
- EU Pet Passports no longer valid, replaced by an 'Animal Health Certificate' obtainable from a vet no more than 10 days prior to departure: required each time you visit the EU.
- The 'European Health Insurance Card' (EHIC) will be phased out, but will be replaced by the 'UK Global Health Insurance Card' (GHIC). Existing EHIC cards issued before end of 2020 will be valid until their expiry date.
- Restrictions on the food, alcoholic drink and goods that you can carry.
Some further reading and guidance on these matters:
- UK Government HMRC "Notice 8: Sailing your pleasure craft to and from the UK" click here
- UK Government "National Yachtline" contact details click here
- UK Government "visit Europe from January 2021": Passports, Driving, Health Insurance, Pets etc. click here
- RYA Boating Abroad - Entry and Exit Formalities click here
- RYA advice "Brexit - what happens next?" click here
- "Sailing Today" magazine article covering this subject click here
External Links to Cruising Guides and Advice
Download various navigation chartlet's from the
East Coast Pilot website: Compilers of the East Coast Pilot Guide Book
including entrances to the River Deben, River Ore and Walton Channel "Stone Point"
Harwich Haven Authority - Containing navigational information for the ports of Harwich
and Felixstow and the River's Stour and Orwell plus surrounding area's
Navigating the Thames
London VTS - VHF "Port" Radio Channels
River Thames and Thames Estuary covering the "Port of London" areas. Port working channels are as follows:
- VHF Channel 69 - covering the seaward limit (approximately the Margate-Harwich line) to Sea Reach 4 buoy.
- VHF Channel 68 - Sea Reach 4 buoy to Crayfordness.
- VHF Channel 14 - upstream of Crayfordness and including the Thames Barrier Zone.
- The Callsign for all Vessel Traffic Services centres is "London VTS".
Thames Flood Barrier
Navigation procedure and guidance - see the "Downloads" section below
Visit Conyer Marina and Conyer Cruising Club
Swale Marina and Conyer Cruising Club welcome visitors all year round and deep mud berths are almost always available. If you are thinking of visiting, call the Marina on +44 (0)1795 521 562 and they will advise you on berth availability and accessibility relative to your draft.