UK boaters can now only visit popular cruising grounds such as the French Canals, Spanish coast and Greek islands for 90 days in every 180 due to Schengen area rules


Canal du Midi, France. Photo: Alamy

A survey carried out amongst Cruising Association (CA) members who keep their boats on the rivers and canals of Schengen countries has revealed that 80% are likely to sell their boats and give up cruising altogether, or move their base to a non-Schengen country.

Overall figures for coastal cruising boat owners are expected to be broadly similar although with more sailing out of Schengen waters to other cruising grounds.

Article continues below…

The failure of the UK government to negotiate a fair deal with the EU means that UK citizens can now only visit Schengen countries for 90 days in every 180, making it impossible for boat owners to spend a whole season exploring Europe’s coasts and inland waterways.

The CA says that this flies in the face of Britain’s maritime heritage and shrinks the country’s pool of experienced, adventurous sailors. The CA’s President, Julian Dussek, is very concerned, stating:

“It will weaken the long-standing cultural ties between UK and EU boating communities, and damage efforts to rebuild tourism post- Covid. The knock-on effects could do serious damage to UK boat sales and the British marine industry in general.

“Unless we can find practical ways of overcoming this debilitating 90-day rule, British flagged boats will become a rare sight in Schengen waters. For a proud seafaring nation, this would be a real tragedy.”

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Patron of the Cruising Association, recently called on The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to step in to resolve the difficulties now facing the approximately 30,000 British sailors who currently keep their boats in EU waters, and who are facing this threat to long-distance cruising.

The 180-Day Campaign is gathering pace, with new members signing up to the Association in support of its efforts.

The CA is the largest UK organisation focussed solely on supporting extended cruising in small boats. It recently launched a 180-day Visa Campaign to encourage individual EU states to reciprocate the British provision to allow EU citizens to spend 180 days per visit in the UK by making long stay visas available to UK boating visitors.

For more on this story visit:

The Schengen states

Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It’s the largest free travel area in the world.

The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that abolished their internal borders for the free and unrestricted movement of goods and people. The area covers most of the EU countries, except Ireland and the four EU members who are legally obliged to join the area in the future – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania.

Although not members of the EU, countries such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are also part of the Schengen zone.

Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland are all Schengen states.

If you need more help calculating how long you can stay in Europe under the new rules, check out this Schengen calculator tool.

Why not subscribe today?

For more articles on DIY, money-saving advice, great boat projects, expert tips and ways to improve your boat’s performance, take out a subscription to Britain’s best-selling boating magazine.

Subscribe, or make a gift for someone else, and you’ll always save at least 30% compared to newsstand prices.

See the latest PBO subscription deals on