Our process to enter UK with our sailboat included both Brexit and Covid-19 – procedures. We sailed to UK the summer 2021 and this was first summer after UK officially left EU. We took information from Noonsite about how the process would be. Since things might change over time, it is hard to write something here that will be valid in the future. Our best tip is to look at a site like Noonsite or contact authorities. But we will still summarize how our entry process looked like.
We sailed during the pandemic and if we stayed 10 days or more on international waters we didn’t need to take a test or do quarantine. We made sure that our crossing from Azores to UK took more than 10 days. Before we left the Azores we had sent an e-mail to authorities in Wales to confirm this and showed this e-mail to Border Force when we arrived.
Regarding Brexit, before leaving Azores we didn’t contact any authorities. The first contact with authorities we did when we had cellphone reception again after the Azores/UK crossing. So just outside Milford Haven. We also hoisted the Q flag (Yellow Flag) when we entered UK waters. You also have to sail to a Port of Entry as your first stop, we sailed to Milford Haven which is a Port of Entry in Wales. All Port of Entries are listed on Noonsite.
We called the National Yachtline. They wanted us to fill out the C1331 form (see the Noonsite link above, and if it is not listed there, there probably is a digital version instead). We also read on Noonsite that the National Yachtline should arrange a meeting with the Border Force for us. But the guy we talked to said we didn’t need to have Border Force visiting us, but everywhere we had read about it said we needed to have them visit us and check the boat and our papers.
We tried calling National Yachtline again, and they said same thing again. Fill out the form and you don’t need to be visited. We were a bit confused so we called the Border Force office and they confirmed what we have read, in order for us to enter the country officially they had to visit our boat. But they had to get the order from the National Yachtline.
So, once more we called the National Yachtline and said we had talked to Border Force and wanted them to arrange for Border Force to visit our boat in the marina. The guy said no (we talked to the same guy every time, probably new at the job or something), he still said we didn’t need to have Border Force visiting us.
We called up Border Force again and said that National Yachtline didn’t want to arrange for Border Force to visit our boat. In the end Border Force called up the National Yachtline to tell them to arrange for Border Force to visit us. National Yachtline called us (another person this time), asked all questions again and finally arranged for Border Force to visit us. Don’t you just love bureaucracy?
The Border Force arrived to our boat, checked the inside and looked at our papers and with that (and the C1331 form we later posted) we finally could take down the Q-flag and had officially entered UK.
Hopefully with time the process of entering and leaving UK will be easier. Brexit was quite new when we entered and new for all the people working with people entering/leaving.
In Milford Haven we met up with Sanuti, who arrived to Milford Haven a couple of days before us. We walked around in Milford Haven, visited a museum about town. We took the train to a nearby city Haverfordwest, enjoyed an afternoon tea and watched the European Championship game between Wales and Denmark at a local bar we found.
After a couple of weeks sailing in the Grenadines islands we returned to Bequia. We had some places we wanted to see before we left Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and we also had a lot of paperwork to prepare before we were gonna leave for Dominica. We did some smaller excursions around Bequia, but mostly we prepared for our sail to Dominica.
With Corona it is a lot more paperwork leaving and entering countries, but not impossible. We contacted an agent in Dominica, took an exit test in Bequia and got approval to do the entry quarantine in Dominica. We also bought some food and made sure we had entertainment downloaded for the days in quarantine.
We also had some time for fun stuff before we left, not only work. We played volleyball on the beach, had a bonfire evening and went to a wholeroasted pig party. At the bonfire evening we met Laura Dekker, she is the youngest person to solo-circumnavigate the world. Very cool to meet her! 🙂
We stayed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for about five weeks, which was really nice! One thing this pandemic has done is to make it harder to travel between countries but in our case that has mostly been a good thing. If we would be able to move between the islands as you usually can do then we probably would have stressed through the islands so that we would be able to explore as much as possible. By staying longer in one place you get to now it better and also start to know some of the locals and you start to get rid of the tourist stamp.
Thought we would list our favorite places in the Grenadines, which you shouldn’t miss if you sail there. So here goes our favorites:
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
Chatham Bay, Union Island
Port Elizabeth Bay, Bequia
Not necessarily in that order, they all offer quite different things.
We really liked SVG and glad that we stayed there for so long, but we were also really excited about our next island, Dominica!
After our Atlantic crossing we arrived to Young Island Cut on the southern tip of St Vincent. We arrived early afternoon and because of covid-19 we would need to take a PCR-test before we could do the check-in process. Before our crossing we contacted the authorities in Saint Vincent & the Grenadines with approximate dates of our arrival. When we were a couple of days from St Vincent we contacted them again and booked a time to take our PCR tests, which was the morning after our arrival. To make things easier for our arrival we took our temperature everyday during the crossing.
So, when we had anchored at our mooring buoy in the quarantine area we took a well deserved swim by the boat and drank some champagne. After that we launched our dinghy so we could take it ashore the following day to take the tests. We also got some fruit and vegetables delivered to us by the guy in charge of the mooring buoy, probably the most expensive fruit and vegetables one could ever buy… We should really have asked what the price would be before we ordered them. If we knew the price beforehand we would have waited until we could go ashore to buy some fresh food. But of course it was nice to eat some fresh stuff again 🙂
We went ashore to take our tests (with no sea-legs at all, must be a myth 😉 ) and had to wait for a while. That was not a big problem since there was Wi-Fi outside the test building. Felt nice to catch up with the world for a while. We also got confirmed that we wouldn’t need any further quarantine other than to wait for our test results, which would take around 72 hours.
We spent three days on the boat, swimming, eating good food, cleaning the boat, practicing free-diving on the mooring buoy and just relaxing. We got our test results on a Saturday so we had to pay a small overtime fee to do the check-in, which we thought was worth it since we wanted to go ashore and explore.
And when we finally got our passports we took a walk around St Vincent, and had some dinner at a restaurant near Young Island Cut. The following day we went snorkeling around Young Island and took a hike up to Fort Duvernette, which was a really cool place. We ate picnic on the top with a nice view of Bequia.
After this small excursion we prepared for a sail down to Bequia.
Video from what we did in quarantine and our first days in St Vincent and the Grenadines. English subtitles can be activated for all our videos.
We left our anchorage outside Puerto de Mogan after we’ve eaten breakfast to start our Canary islands to Cape Verde crossing. It was sunny and calm so the first day we went by engine most of the way.
After we had lunch, a pasta dish we had prepared before our departure, we took a swim from the boat. Pretty nervous to take a swim when the depth is more than 3000 metres, never know what creatures that lure beneath you…
After the swim we heard our fishing reel spin; we had caught a fish! We hauled it in and saw that it was a skipjack tuna, same as we caught on the way to the Canary Islands, but a bit smaller. We made fillets out of it and put it into the fridge for later use.
During the day it was a lot of talk on the radio about immigrant boats and we actually saw one boat drifting around (not any people in it) and we called on VHF to inform Canary Islands authorities about it. We spent the rest of the afternoon in the cockpit, chilling in the sun and reading a book. We had pre-prepared risotto for dinner and a pretty sunset before we started our night shifts, Thomas started on watch and Petra started with sleeping.
Day 2- December 5, 2020
When morning came we were both pretty tired after the first night. It is hard to get good sleep the first night before you learn the drill. This night we tried with 6 hour shifts instead of 3 hours as we’ve done before. During the morning before the sun came up we saw a pretty big tanker “close” to us (2 nm away).
The wind had picked up and we could start sailing, but it was still not so much and the sails were “flapping” a bit in the bigger waves. It was rolly waves and we both avoided being inside the boat for too long (due to seasickness), but it was worst for Petra. It was also a bit cloudy and not very warm actually. We managed to keep a speed of over 4 knots anyway, so we made some progress anyway. For lunch we made sushi out of the tuna we caught on Day 1. It was really good, but not the prettiest sushi (which is no surprise when you have to do it in all those rolly waves). For dinner we ate more of the pasta sauce we had prepared.
Day 3 – December 6, 2020
We still hadn’t gotten used to the night shifts so we were still a bit tired, plus Petra had gotten seasick (and threw up) during her night watch. The wind had really started to pick up and we were making very good speed. It was 2nd Advent this day and we opened a 2nd Advent gift we got from our friends, listened to Christmas music and had some gingerbread cookies as afternoon fika.
We made a poke bowl out of the rest of the tuna we caught, which was very delicious! We spent most of the day in the cockpit, talking or just looking at the ocean. It was a bit too rolly for reading and we were a bit low on energy. For dinner we had noodles.
Day 4 – December 7, 2020
This night was a throw-up-seasickness night for Petra again, unfortunately. We tried putting one of our matrasses on the floor of the boat to get more comfortable sleep, and that helped a lot.
As it was a bit windy we switched from the genoa to our second largest staysail instead. It was enough wind to make good speed with this setup, and we didn’t have to worry about having too much sail up should the wind pick up even more. For lunch we had pasta with pesto. The day went on pretty much the same as before, except we listened to one podcast during the afternoon.
Later in the afternoon we started making tacos (takes a while when everything is constantly moving) to celebrate that we sailed half way! The tacos were delicious and we also saw another boat on the AIS in the evening (a catamaran that sailed past us). We never saw it in real life.
Day 5 – December 8, 2020
No seasickness this night! As it was pretty strong winds we sailed with our middle staysail during the night and made an average of around 4,5-5 knots. We kept the staysail during the day, as it was still a lot of wind. Before this day we had mostly sailed on our autopilot, but today we decided we should try our windvane instead. We had to work a bit to get it properly setup, but after that it worked well. Except some small adjustments we had to do every once in a while. We had pasta with pesto for lunch today as well and listened to one more podcast in the afternoon. Most of the afternoon was sunny, which was really nice. Ate risotto for dinner and saw a passenger ferry, heading for Mindelo, during the evening. This night we went back to 4 x 3 hour night shifts again after trying with 2 x 6 hours.
Day 6 – December 9, 2020
During the night the wind picked up even more and the waves got pretty big. Some of the waves splashed into the cockpit. It was a cloudy day, but we made really good speed even if we still only sailed on a smaller staysail. We ate noodles for lunch, and listened to a podcast in the afternoon and ate some potato chips and drank a Coca-Cola. After the first day we hadn’t tried fishing (we didn’t have energy to take care of the fish), but today we tried again. We caught a very small skipjack tuna, so small that we let it go. For dinner we had what was left of the tacos we made a couple of days ago.
Day 7 – December 10, 2020
We made very good speed during the night, which was not what we wanted. We wanted to approach Mindelo in daytime and after this night it looked like we would arrive in Mindelo in the middle of the night. But we kept our staysail up, in hopes that the wind would decrease so that we would go a bit slower.
We tried fishing today as well and first caught a small Dorado (Mahi-Mahi) that we let go. Not long after we caught another Dorado (80cm long). We filleted it and saved for when we arrived to Mindelo. We ate pasta with pesto for lunch today as well. So good and simple thing to eat!
And after lunch we had the most amazing visit! A Blue Marlin (or maybe another of the marlin group)! Thomas first noticed a fin in the surface, and thought it was some kind of shark. Realized very quickly that this was not a dolphin. And then it swam close to the boat, next to the boat and under the boat, and we saw the “spear” on the nose. So we thought it could be some kind of swordfish. We grabbed our fish book and realized it probably wasn’t a swordfish but instead a marlin. As it swam very close to the boat we got a good feeling of its size, and we have estimated that it was around 2,5-3 meters long.
We dropped our gopro into the water to get some videos/pictures of it. Unfortunately a lot of bubbles around the pictures, but we are glad we managed to get some kind of pictures of it.
The Blue Marlin stayed with us for about 3-4 hours, and only left when we decided to start drifting for a while. We still sailed very fast and our arrival in Mindelo was hours away from sunrise. So we took down the sail, but still sailed around 3-3,5 knots on just the rig. We guess the Blue Marlin swam with us for the same reason as dolphins do, and when we didn’t sail as fast anymore it was no use for it to follow us anymore.
As we were getting close to Cape Verde it was time to hoist the yellow Q flag together with the courtesy flag of Cape Verde (the courtesy flag should always be hoisted above any other flag) on the flag line under the spreader on starboard side. The Q flag is flown when you enter a countries territorial waters (usually 12nm from shore) and says that you haven’t checked in the boat and its crew yet. As we’ve understood it is not always law to hoist this flag, but if you do you can never be accused of trying to enter a country illegally. And in some countries the use of this flag is more serious than others. And this year the use of this flag is more serious because of Covid-19 (and it should be hoisted to show that the boat is in quarantine and the crew not allowed on land yet).
It was not very comfortable drifting so we set up the sail again, with hopes that the wind would decrease during the night.
Day 8 – December 11, 2020
The wind did increase during the night and we went a lot slower the last miles. We timed the entrance to Mindelo quite perfectly. When we entered the channel between Sao Vicente and Santo Antao the sun was just about to rise. And when we entered Mindelo Bay the sun was up and we had no problem navigating ourselves into the marina. Before our departure to Cape Verde we had contacted Marina Mindelo and booked a place in the marina and also sent our Covid-19 test results to them.
When we approached the dock two personnel from the marina met us and showed which spot that was ours and told us to stay in the boat until the marina office opened. We had contacted the marina before we started our Canary islands to Cape Verde crossing so we knew we had a spot. You could also anchor in the bay but we didn’t were a bit lazy and didn’t want to unpack our dingy as we should only be there a couple of days anyway.
We reorganized the lines (the marina in Mindelo is very rolly and having some kind of snubber on the lines is necessary) and ate breakfast.
When the office opened we went there, checked in to the marina. After the marina it was time to visit Immigration and Customs. Both located next to each other a 5-10 minute walk from the marina. We visited Immigration first and got our passports stamped, and then Policia Maritima afterwards that looked at our boatpapers. They also kept our boatpapers until departure. The whole process went very smooth and the officials were really friendly. We paid 5€ at the Immigration office and think it took us one-hour maximum to get everything done. We went back to the boat, took down the yellow Q flag and now we were officially in Cape Verde.
A video from our Canary Islands to Cape Verde crossing, where you can see more of the Marlin following us. We speak Swedish in our videos, but all our videos have English subtitles you can activate.
In this blog post we will talk a bit of our findings so far regarding finding a liability insurance for our cruising sailboat. (For a Swedish version of this blog post, click HERE). We have googled a bit and asked for quotes and thought we share some about it here.
We have mostly been looking at a Third Party Liability insurance for our sailboat. Our boat is pretty cheap, and we can handle the loss if something should happen. We won’t sell everything we have in Sweden, so we will also have something to return to if things should go really wrong.
But after a bit of research we noticed that it isn’t an easy thing finding an insurance for a cheap, old sailboat (approx €20’000 with some equipment included). Most companies has given us a no, and we didn’t expect that. We had expected that we might need to pay a lot, and get a no for a full insurance, but not getting a no on third party liability only insurance.
We have read on some websites that it seems that many insurance companies has tightened their requirements and no longer insures cheap, old boats. Which is a bummer…
We have asked for quotes at the following companies:
Y Yachts Insurance
Admiral Yacht Insurance
Before sending a quote to Pantaenius (Swedish office) we had read that they didn’t insure boat worth less than about €50’000. But we thought it was worth a try anyway, it would be easy for us with Swedish office and all. We got a first reply that they wouldn’t be able to offer us an insurance that would be in a good price range for us, and that it probably would be to expensive for us, due to our boats value. We asked again to double-check if this was the case if we wanted a third party liability insurance only. We got the reply that they weren’t able to insure our boat at all. What we read on Google it might not be as tough requirements for other Pantaenius offices, but we haven’t made a full investigation if it is possible for us as a Swedish registered boat to get a third party liability insurance from those offices.
We also sent a quotation to Y Yachts, where we got the answer we wanted! 🙂 They could offer a third party insurance for sailing to the Caribbean (not Senegal and Gambia, though, if we want to sail there). They have also been very fast and helpful with answering our questions. We will most likely choose them as our insurer.
UPDATE 1: We used the third party liability insurance offered by Y Yacht for our sailing trip and paid €5’000. The insurance covered northern Europe, Atlantic Europe, British Isles, Atlantic islands (Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, Azores), the Caribbean and two Atlantic crossings. We had a limit of €3’000’000. One thing we learned while we were out sailing is that it could be good to make sure that the third party liability covers the dinghy as well, as the dinghy is more likely to make serious damages on third parties than the sailboat.
UPDATE 2: Y Yachts was purchased by TopSail and what we have heard from others is that they are using the policy from TopSail and thus doesn’t offer third party liability insurance only, which is very unfortunate…
After sending a quote request we got an answer that the value of the boat was to low and that it was also to old. They also don’t offer third party liability insurance, which actually says on their website (under FAQ), which we missed.
Also a no, since they don’t normally offer third party liability insurance for cruising sailboat only.
Admiral Yacht Insurance
We never sent a quote since they asked early on their web form if the boat was worth more than 40’000 pounds. If not, you got a message saying that they couldn’t offer you anything.
We got a reply saying that they only insure existing client for sailing to the Caribbean.
No problem to offer insurance for the chosen areas, but can not offer third party liability only. Since our boat is old they needed a recent survey and a lot of pictures of the boat. As we are mostly interested in third party liability only we haven’t investigated this further, but they didn’t mention any limitations for us. Spontaneously it felt like a good alternative if you are looking for full coverage insurance for an older boat.
Does not offer insurance for sailing to the Caribbean.
The chosen areas are not an issue, but they also have a boat value limitation (€50’000).
So as a conclusion, it is not an easy task finding an insurance for cruising if you have an old sailboat of low insurance value. Anyone else out there that has had similar issue or have any experience to share about picking insurance for a cheap sailboat? If so, please leave a comment. Maybe you’ll be able to help another sailor who has the same issue. 🙂