From the Editor: July 2002

If all that's required for bureaucracy to triumph is for good men to do nothing...

If all that?s required for bureaucracy to triumph is for good men to do nothing, then now is the time to do something. After several happy centuries of largely blameless pottering about off our muddy shores, Britain?s boat
owners are suddenly under scrutiny as never before. The bureaucrats have sniffed us out. Red tape is in full production ? and it?s intended for us.
First, light dues ? again. Who?s to pay for the buoys, lights and marks around our coast?

We didn?t put them there and we didn?t ask for them, but someone has to pay for them, and ship owners and fishermen, who claim not to need them any more because they only use GPS these days, think that should be us. There?s lots of them out there and they?re very expensive to maintain (especially huge ones like the big English Channel lightfloats EC1 and EC3 before they were withdrawn on cost grounds because ? um, because ships kept bumping into them). The problem is that to extract payment from pleasure boaters the government would first have to register all pleasure boats, and that would mean making registration compulsory, and that would mean ? well, not to put too fine a point on it, that could mean the end of pleasure boating in this country as we know it and the thin end of a large legislative wedge.
There is a consultation document ( http :// ). No excuses: log on and speak your mind.

Next, the Solas V regulations: under which, among other things, all pleasure boat skippers will be legally required to make a passage plan whenever going to sea. There is nothing we can do about this: astonishingly, the new rules come into force on July 1, courtesy of the International Maritime Organisation, an agency of the United Nations based in London, with the help of our own Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The RYA seems to have been consulted almost as an afterthought.

Like most petty bureaucracy, it?s silly, infuriating, probably unworkable ? and invests power in the hands of those least qualified to wield it. You can read more about developments on p10.