Following protests from visiting boaters, Croatia has backed down from requiring skippers of private boats to list in advance all visitors anticipated over the following year.

This clearly unworkable system was introduced in an attempt to prevent ‘black chartering’ – owners concealing charter income to evade tax. The rules have now been changed to allow visitors’ names to be added to the crew list as they arrive – up to a maximum of 28 people. While that probably covers the social circle of many cruising people, the same number applies irrespective of the size of boat. Perhaps Roman Abramovic won’t be returning to Croatia this year – his 115 metre megayacht ‘Pelorus’ has 18 guest cabins.

Rules requiring foreign-flagged commercial charter vessels remain unchanged, however. From October they will be required to re-register under the Croatian flag, which threatens the fleets of one of Croatia’s longest-serving charter companies, Sailing Holidays. Having completed a major investment in 50 new Bénéteaux, their bankers not surprisingly require UK registration as security. Barrie Neilson, the company’s boss, says that their representations to the government in Zagreb have so far fallen on deaf ears. If nothing changes, they will have no choice but to move their boats down to the Ionian after nearly twenty years’ operation in Croatia.

Watch this space.

Fractional sailing’ is the name SailTime gives to its new boat ownership scheme which the company reckons involves costs competitive with an outright purchase.

As an ‘Owner Member’, SailTime can arrange finance for the purchase of a boat, which is then shared between eight ‘Members’. The owner takes out a marine mortgage with a deposit, typically of 20%, but interest charges are offset by a guaranteed monthly income. SailTime estimates that after a five year period an owner should be able to sell the boat and recoup his initial deposit.

The members pay an initiation fee, followed by a monthly charge (from £395 for a Bénéteau 323) for use of the boat for up to seven times a month. SailTime are responsible for all berthing, insurance and maintenance charges.

Members also have the opportunity of trading their allotted time for boats from other SailTime bases. The company, which also offers its business model as a franchise, has been established in North America for just over three years and now has 35 bases with 70 boats.
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