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Malta to Gibraltar: Concern that direct course is close to Algeria

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 15, 2014 11:45 AM
Contributors: Con Sprenger and JimB

Published: 2013-10-10 23:00:00
Topics: Mediterranean
Countries: Spain , Algeria , Gibraltar , Malta

I would be very grateful for any advice you can give for our planned delivery of our Elan 410 from Malta to Gibraltar later this month.

Our concern is the direct course is close to Algeria.

We have read stories of yachts being aggressively boarded by Algerian authorities whilst sailing in these waters and of a couple being virtually imprisoned after being towed into an Algerian report in an emergency.

These reports are a few years old and we are wondering if they are still representative of the political dangers.

Are we better taking a longer course far away from Algerian waters?

Advice from Jim Baerselman of www.jimbsail.info

The legal side is that an advance visa is required of most Nationals before entering Algeria waters. That implies that any boat within 12nm of the coast may be boarded, and asked for its intentions.

If it's on passage, the Algerian authoritiews may choose to bring the boat into harbour, or they may choose to escort it out of Algerian waters. If, due to gear failure or other unavoidable reason, a boat has to make port, it and its crew will have to remain in customs controlled areas while next steps are negotiated. This is where consulates or embassies come in useful.

CA advice is to stand well outside 12nm off Algerian coasts unless visas, and boat permissions, have already been negotiated. Pretty similar to Israel, in fact.

JimB

Advice from Con Sprenger of SY Big Sky

Sorry I do not have any pertinent info on sailing through Algerian waters, except that on our direct course from Cartagena, Spain to Saidia, Morocco we might have entered the Algerian territorial waters briefly, but I am not sure how the border is implemented in this area. We did try to make contact with the Algerian Authorities in many different places for the purpose of going to this country, but the many e-mail sent out remained unanswered, hence I have no clue how the authorities will react.

From a practical point of few, I personally would stay at least 12 miles off the coast at all times, and perhaps quite a bit more, if nothing else if avoids running into local fishermen that might be operating at night close to the coast, without any lights or visible markings and certainly no AIS transponder. On the roughly 1000 NM trip staying well of the coast adds maybe a few miles, not worth taking a chance on. To be sure I would have all navigatable ports set as way-point on my electronic charts in case of needing one for emergency purposes.

As an alternative to Gibraltar, La Linea is an excellent choice, rates are half of Gibraltar, it takes about 20 minutes to walk from the marina to Gib, and kind of fun to cross an active runway while doing it. Customs and immigration are low key, we bought well over our legal limit for duty free entry into the EU in Gib (marine parts), no one blinked an eye.

C Sprenger

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