YM asked to spread 'no fines' promise


A hard-hit leading Belgian yacht club, suffering from a yacht boycott of the country by UK yachtsmen over the red diesel imbroglio has made an appeal, via Yachting Monthly, for sailors to come back to Flanders.

Maurice Beke, secretary-general of the Zeebrugge-based Royal Belgian Sailing Club dubbed the red diesel controversy as a ‘myth’ and has written to YM stating no UK yachtsmen, armed with a VAT receipt will be fined for having red diesel in his tank.

‘It would be a real pity to have a cruise to such a magnificent area as
the Belgian coast spoilt by the red diesel myth. Indeed, stained diesel
is by decision of the Ministry of Finance no longer an issue for British
yachtsmen. And should you have a random Customs visit, which is rare,
then a simple recent receipt, no longer than one year old, from a UK
fuel station, proving that VAT/Excise was paid in the UK, will be

‘Zeebrugge has always been very popular among British yachtsmen. Not only for the well known hospitality and kindness of the marina staff but Zeebrugge is also the safest harbour along the coast, accessible in all weather conditions and all states of tide, even for deep draught craft,’ he wrote.

‘The yacht harbour of the Royal Belgian Sailing Club offers all facilities: easy berthing, modern fully equipped pontoons, fuel station, wifi, technical support, chandlery and a brand new club house with an exquisite kitchen. The historic cities Ghent and Bruges, worth a visit, lie in our back garden.

‘The Royal Belgian Sailing Club is looking forward to welcoming you this summer.’

However many British yachtsmen will remain skeptical and intend to continue the yacht boycott until an official statement is made from the Belgian Government stating that they will not penalise UK sailors for having red diesel aboard.

The argument is between the EU which says the UK is breaking European regulations on the use of red diesel, and the British government which says red diesel can be used by leisure sailors as well as fishermen, because duty is paid – albeit only for that used in propulsion and not that used for heating.