One reader’s nerve-racking run-in with the Belgian authorities has lead the RYA to issue advice on the matter of radar licences

Cruising European waterways can lead to a tonne of paperwork and regulations, but the Royal Yachting Association has sought to clarify one particular issue.

Following a letter from an MBM reader, the RYA has issued a reminder that a radar licence is needed in Belgium, regardless of whether you intend to use radar or not.

Carol Paddison, cruising officer at the RYA, said: “It is a requirement to carry the regulations for the area you are sailing on board.

“When you apply for the licence you say what equipment you have on board, and if you change your equipment you should update your ship radio licence to ensure it covers all the relevant equipment.”

This reminder comes after MBM reader Donald Walker had a particularly stressful run-in with the Belgian authorities at Willemsdock Marina in Antwerp, who spent half an hour searching his boat.

Despite his extensive experience, Mr Walker was surprised at the rigour with which the officers scoured his Broom 33.

“They went through the registration details, insurance, licences and passports. They then began checking equipment, things like fire extinguishers, life jackets, even mooring ropes, checking each item off on the clip board,” he said.

Another issue that was raised by Mr Walker’s experience was the need to carry a copy of the Belgian Inland Waterways regulations, regardless of whether or not you can read Flemish.

Incidents such as these are proving increasingly frequent as policing of the Belgian inland waterways becomes more stringent.

Boat owners are also advised to carry documentation to prove that their red diesel was purchased in the UK, as we advised last month.

Failing to take all these necessary precautions can mean your Continental cruise could result in a hefty fine, not to mention plenty of inconvenience.

For more advice on cruising on the Continent, see the RYA’s

Boating Abroad guidelines