The result of the referendum vote earlier this year sent the yacht industry sailing into the unknown. Similar to many other sectors, ‘uncertainty’ was the common word on everyone’s minds, particularly among boat owners in the UK.
Although it might be a couple of years before Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, policies surrounding sailing on waters abroad could face many changes.
When and if the UK does leave, EU treaties will cease to apply, according to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).
The statement, the RYA said: “Until such time, UK residents remain EU residents, the UK remains in the EU for VAT, Customs and Excise purposes and there should be little noticeable difference when sailing between the UK and other EU countries.”
If the UK leaves the EU without a trade agreement, when a vessel arrives in an EU port, it will be required to hoist the Q-flag, have ship's papers ready as well as passports, visas, proof of vaccination, state all intended ports of call, and checks on the amount of cash carried, red diesel and alcohol on board.
In addition to that, vessels will have to clear in and clear out of every harbour and hope that immigration, customs and police are all in the same building to make life easier and processing quicker.
However, if the UK does enter into a trade agreement with the EU and continue to be treated as an EEA member, the yachting industry won’t face any significant changes at all.
As for yacht sales post-Brexit, the flags are flying high as the drop in the value of the pound have encouraged a new appetite for sales to the US and European countries.
This was put on display at the Cannes Yacht Show and Southampton Boat Show this month, particularly when it came to statistics for the latter. Howard Pridding, chief executive of industry association British Marine, said: “Exhibitor confidence has been boosted by strong interest in advance tickets: sales are up 52% compared to last year.”
It’s not just the interest of consumers that has risen, as boat manufactures have also seen a boost in value for money. Mr Pridding said: “British boats and equipment are being seen as improved value for money in competitive markets and exporting companies are reporting some short-term gains.
“The drop in the pound has convinced some clients to commit.”
In 2013/14, boat exports contributed £900 million to the UK economy and £500 million from boat exports in 2014 alone. The industry adds £6.2 billion in gross domestic value to the UK GDP overall, and provides billions of pounds through domestic holidays each year that involve boating activity.
But it hasn’t always been easy for the boating industry, and while the currency markets mean boats in the UK are currently cheaper to purchase, companies may be faced with increased costs for mechanicals as the majority of engines are purchased abroad.
Antony Sheriff, the executive chairman of Princess, said Britain’s boatbuilding industry remains healthy… for the moment. He added: “On a scale of health from one to 10 I’d say Britain’s boatbuilding industry is at a six.
“That doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy, but there’s plenty of space for improvement. We’re punching above our weight, particular on luxury, and British products naturally fall into that category worldwide.
“Britain’s boating industry has done something really special, but there is now a chance for it to step up a gear.”