Ammendment to Regulations made on 1st May 2015
The following Original text will be ammended in Blue to indicate the changes.
Paddling in French Territorial waters
UK paddlers will be very used to jumping in their kayaks and paddling off on their journey generally unregulated. Some paddlers will be aware of ‘Local’ regulations and byelaws such as those on the Tidal Thames, and will have made themselves familiar with them as and when necessary
However in France there are regulations which affect everybody navigating on French territorial waters, and this page details those requirements and suggests ways to comply
It is worth mentioning International law at sea.
All vessels have authority and right of passage through the territorial waters of another country from the United Nations Convention of the law of the sea
(You must be complying with the laws of the UK and other relevant international conventions SOLAS, COLREGS etc )
At first sight then it appears that there is no requirement to comply with the host Nation regulations.
However, the ‘right of passage’ referred to is clearly defined in the convention as meaning a “continuous and expeditious passage through territorial waters” If you are visiting or touring the coast then you come within the jurisdiction of the coastal state, and will have to comply with their regulations
There are three aspects of the regulations that affect Kayakers in France
2. Construction and fitness for purpose
3. Zones of navigation and required equipment
1. Registration is only possible for residents in France, (a proof of address is a required submission). There are no requirements to register a Kayak under UK law, but you may wish to voluntary register your Kayak on the MCA Small Ships Register. (A fee is charged £25 ) This gives you a SSR number that must be displayed on the kayak, a Registration card from the MCA and is proof the kayak is from UK. In any case a “Red Ensign” should be displayed prominently on the kayak. If you decide not to register on the SSR, then some document to prove ownership should be carried, the original bill will be good, but if you have no original document a formal “Attestation sur l’honneur” detailing your ownership will ‘probably’ be acceptable (eg for a 10year old boat where original docs have been lost, see sample at end) Registration is no longer required for Kayaks navigating in the “Basique” Zone ( 300 meters up to 2 mN )
NB: This actually means you can make an open crossing of up to 4 miles without a registration requirement, but you must carry the equipment detailed for paddling in that zone Basique
2. Construction and fitness for purpose is established in the registration process usually with certificates issued by the manufacturer. Current UK professionally built sea kayaks will conform with construction requirements. It is acceptable to ‘self certificate’ using an “Attestation sur l’honneur” (sample at end) Again nothing of real concern in this section
3. Zones of Navigation are defined in the regulations, they are;
a) “Basique” Up to 2 Nmiles from a ‘safe landing place’
b) “Côtier” From 2 Nmiles up to 6 Nmiles from a ‘safe landing place’
c) “Hauturier” Over 6 Nmiles This zone is forbidden for Kayaks
Additionally, all other “Beach craft and craft not registered” are restricted to the area from the shore out to 300 meters. Kayaks and Sit on tops under 3.5 Meters Long also fall into this category.
To paddle in the Côtier Zone new regulations are in Force, for French residents Registration is still required, additionally there must be a minimum of TWO Paddlers, and there must be a minimum of One Waterproof VHF radio readily available for each pair of paddlers.
Solo Paddling in this Zone is forbidden, except for ” Members of an association registered for Solo paddling” This really is unclear, and I’ve yet to meet someone who understands this requirement. I’ve searched the Regulation Text for a definition of the Association, but there is none. Its likely to be CKMER or Pagayeurs Marins, there is absolutely nothing on the FFCK website (French equiv. of BCU ). If you really wanted to Solo paddle in this Zone, I’m sure a BCU Card with a high star certificate would satisfy this requirement, but that’s for the paddler to decide and at their own risk.
Whilst this appears a bit restrictive, in fact it means that Two paddlers can make an open crossing of up to 12 Nautical miles (ie 6 miles from either coast) This offers some of the best paddling in Europe
a) Basique. The regulations require the following ‘minimal ‘ items of equipment to be carried.
i PDF with minimum 50N, and CE marked
ii A Torch
iii A’means’ of getting back into the kayak
(commonly seen in France are paddle floats with spare paddle , but full
decklines on the boat will satisfy )
iv The boat must be self emptying (ie SOT) or a Pump is required, for Sit In
Kayaks, a spraydeck must be used)
v A fixed towing point ( eye plate screwed to deck) and Tow line
b) Côtier. In addition to the above list you must also carry;
vi 3 x Red hand flares
vii Signal mirror ( A mini CD disc does the job )
viii A Sound signal ( a good loud whistle or locals carry an air horn without
the canister )
ix Magnetic Compass ( not electronic)
x Chart of the area you’re paddling
xi A sticker on the boat with a resumé of the COLREGS
xii A sticker on the boat identifying IALA buoyage
xiii Plus one VHF radio for each pair of paddlers
Carry proof of ownership, declare your kayak is seaworthy, and be in possession of the right kit for the zone you are in.
The last two items (stickers) can be found in ships chandlers Online Store
( Or just print your own out with some sticky plastic, not that I see many fixed on boats ! )
My abbrieviated version, an aide memoire for COLREGS can now be downloaded Here (You might decide you would prefer more detail , your choice)
This account relates to kayaks professionally built, with hatches and bulkheads constructed in a glass reinforced plastic or moulded polyethylene. If you are considering taking a home built boat, Strip built, skin on frame, or a folding boat, you will need to carry out more research to establish you and your kayak comply with the regulations.
These are only guidelines, and can not represent the full regulations in force, you need to use your own judgement and seek further advice to ensure you comply with the law. The law is subject to change, and while the author believes this text reflects the current law in place, he can not guarantee this
“Attestation sur l’honneur” = A formal written declaration, often demanded in France when other paperwork has been lost/ does not exist
ATTESTATION DE PROPRIETE
Je, soussigné Joe Brown
Demeurant au (Your address )
Déclare sur l’honneur être le propriétaire du kayak
“ P&H Sirius Sea Kayak” Numéro de Série : 07543. (make model and serial no.)
J’ai acheté le Sirius Kayak chez
BROOKBANK Canoes Kayak environ 2006. (orignal place & date of purchase)
La facture originale est perdue (original bill is lost )
Fait à Home Town Name where you signed this declaration, le 14 .07. 2011 (date declaration signed)
Your signature here
Déclaration de conformité d’un navaire de plaisance non immatriculé en France
Je soussigné M ( Add your name)
né(e) le (add date of birth) Demeurant au (Your address )
Certifie sur l’honneur que le kayak répondant à la description suivante:
Marque (Enter manufacturer ) Modèle (enter model )
Numéro de série (Enter serial number)
Est conforme aux dispositions du chapitre 2 de la division 240 en vigueur
Signature du déclarant Paddling in French waters