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Yacht captains summoned to court and fined in France after navigational errors

yacht captains issued fines in France after using wrong navigational charts
© Felix Fuchs

A number of yacht captains have been summoned to court and issued fines in France after breaching anchorage regulations and using the wrong navigational charts.

Following changes to anchorage rules on the French Riviera and around France, a number of yachts have found themselves on the wrong side of maritime law with the French authorities, and captains have been summoned to court to explain alleged breaches.

Several yachts affected were using outdated navigational charts that led them to anchoring in the wrong areas. In an advisory sent by the Professional Yachting Association to its members on 9th August, yacht captains were urged to check they were in the correct areas and to maintain radio communication with maritime authorities. This included keeping audio recordings in case they were asked at a later stage to prove their vessel’s intended position.

“The two most important things are to make sure you have the latest charts and confirm with the local semaphore (radio station) that you are anchored in an appropriate location,” said Christophe Bourillon, CEO of the PYA.

In light of increased restrictions to protect marine life, yacht crews are being recommended to check the latest French anchorage rules and to ensure they possess current navigational charts to avoid issues. The PYA confirmed this week that captains were again on the receiving end of fines when using private applications or the latest UKHO charts as their means of navigation in French waters. These apps are no longer considered to be up-to-date with the latest French regulations and therefore it is recommended to use the SHOM charts instead, according to the PYA.

The French government recently revealed its new app – Nav & Co to issue navigational charts. Launched by the French Ministry of the Seas, it has been developed in cooperation with SHOM, which provides up-to-date charts. Even though it includes a disclaimer stating that this is not a primary means of navigation, Nav & Co is now considered the most up-to-date app for navigating in French waters.

While a majority of vessels will have the correct charts at hand, some yacht owners and captains who have traditionally used other private apps are most likely to be impacted in the future. Despite their best intentions, when anchoring in wrong areas, fines can be issued due to yachts relying on incorrect navigational charts.