Anchorage regulations on the French Riviera and how to avoid infringement
9 August 2023
New anchorage regulations in the South of France have caught a number of yacht captains by surprise, leading to court summons by the Maritime police.
Following our discussions with captains as well as exchanges with the Prefecture Maritime’s office, we are issuing new guidelines to all captains with some of the best practices to reduce risks when anchoring in France near restricted maritime areas.
At present, other than in the Bay of St Tropez, the Gendamerie Maritime does not have a large number of vessels on patrol. However, they will rely on radar, AIS and other electronic means to confirm anchoring in restricted areas. They can also rely on visual assessments from sworn officers, on watch in the local radio station (semaphore).
The anchoring regulations are such that, the anchor may be outside a restricted area but if the vessel is seen within the restricted area, it is infringing the regulation. The vessel, anchor and chain must remain outside the restricted area at all times.
Avoiding breaches of regulations
There are a number of ways to avoid being summoned by maritime authorities. See our guidance list below:
Ensure that you have the latest charts, publications and local bylaws.
Select a safe anchoring area for the vessel.
Always seek confirmation with the local radio station (semaphore) that you are within an authorised area. If not, ask them for coordinates for an authorised area. Record the radio exchange with the radio station (their own calls are recorded).
Take photos of your vessel’s position, from your displays on the bridge, note the latitude and longitude of the anchor position in the Log Book.
When at sea and at anchor, maintain a listening watch on Channel 16 at all times. From our discussions with the Prefecture Maritime, it appears that a number of vessels previously anchored in restricted areas had missed one or two calls from the Semaphore. Being able to contact you is extremely important for maritime authorities.
Mooring buoys are available in Cannes, Beaulieu Sur Mer and Golfe Juan, these can be booked via the Donia App.
The Prefecture Maritime’s own recommendations are as follows:
Choose sandy areas, easily identifiable by their clear bottom, using sonar.
If unsure, anchor at a depth greater than 30m in the French Riviera or 40m in Corsica.
Reverse at a maximum of 0.5 knots and lift the anchor with the bow of the boat directly above it.
For short mooring periods, avoid using excessive chain length.
Please note that as safety is paramount, if you have to seek shelter in a restricted area, you can. However, you will have to demonstrate afterwards that the conditions of the vessel and/or weather were such that you could not avoid anchoring in the restricted area. In any case, it is important that you maintain communication with the radio station (semaphore) at all times.
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