Antipole cruises

Crosshaven, Kinsale and then the wild west?

We fled from noisy Cork city down the harbour as the Ocean to City massed rowers powered themselves the other way and we came to Crosshaven, a lovely wooded estuary which branches off the main harbour near the sea.  Crosshaven is devoted to sailing, having three marinas, one belonging to the Royal Cork Sailing Club, which was founded in 1720 and claims to be the first sailing club in the world.  They have magnificent facilities, including a fleet of over forty Optimist dinghies for young cadets to learn sailing and these were out in force.  The cadets have their own facilities including a separate social building, which must suit cadets and adults alike.  We berthed in a very friendly marina nearby.


On Sunday we had yet another gentle sail with blue skies and fair winds to Kinsale, 26 miles to the west.  Kinsale is an attractive harbour and resort with lots of visitors and isquite ‘well to do’.  There are also a lot of ‘blow-ins’ here – people who have blown in on the wind and never left. So there are lots of alternative folk,  plenty of arts and crafts, whole-food etc. and some excellent eating places.


From here west there are no more marinas or facilities for visiting yachts, so Ynskje has been busy arranging laundry and restocking — last hot showers too for several weeks.  We also took the opportunity to top up with diesel.


Readers of our blog last year may recall the issue of diesel.  Traditionally, diesel for boats has been tax and duty free, as ships move from state to state and bunker where they will.  However, a few years ago the EU decided that pleasure craft should pay duty and tax on fuel.  In principle this is quite reasonable, in our opinion, on environmental and economic grounds.  But this does not apply to commercial craft and the bureaucrats did not think the measure through.  Fishing boats, for example, are still entitled to use duty-free marked red diesel, unless, for example, they are fishing for leisure.  Yachts can used red diesel if the owner is being paid, but not otherwise.  Anyone who thinks that small craft  can switch fuels according to function does not understand boats.


Most European countries have simply made it illegal to use red diesel in leisure craft. Belgium, for one, has only about five ports (although Antwerp is the largest in Europe) and providing separate white diesel supplies for leisure craft was not a big issue.  But Great Britain has thousands of small ports around its extensive coasts where fuel is often supplied to fishing boats from a tank on the quayside, and the idea of installing a separate white diesel tank in case a leisure craft calls is ridiculous.  So Britain has taken the pragmatic solution of allowing leisure craft to take on red diesel, but requires they pay VAT and 60% of the duty.  The 60% figure is a very British compromise to allow for some of the fuel being used for heating or power generation, on which it is not fair to levy the duty on propulsion fuel.


British practice has infuriated Belgian officials, who have taken to boarding British craft (even at sea in one case), testing their fuel for any trace of red diesel and imposing very hefty fines.  This practice is illegal under the Oslo Accord, under which fuel in a foreign ship’s propulsion tanks is outside the jurisdiction of a port of call.  Besides, any disagreement about British practice is between the UK and the EU, and it is not for one member state to prosecute citizens of another member for a practice sanctioned by their own government.


Now the Irish have a very Irish approach to this matter.  Firstly, they allow supply of duty-free diesel to all craft, but expect owners to report to their tax office at the end of the year how much diesel they have purchased for leisure purposes, so they can be billed for the duty.  This flexible arrangement allows for collection of duty on leisure fuel as required by the EU and solves the dual use issue at a stroke, even if it requires record-keeping beyond Irish practice.  Secondly, duty-free diesel is green rather than red. This fits in with Irish identity (the letter and telephone boxes are green for example).  It also completely confuses the Belgian red diesel detectors and happens to side-step legislation which specifically bans red diesel.  Don’t you just love the quirks of the EU!


The fine and exceptional weather has finally broken.  Today Tuesday there is a lull in the wind will should allow us to get to Courtmacsherry, where we expect to shelter at anchor for four days of gales before making further west.  Communication from hereon may be rather spasmodic. but we will update you when possible.


love to all
Tony & Ynskje xxx

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