Until the arrival of the Common Market, stocking up with duty frees before cruising abroad was always an important right of passage. But the system hasn’t disappeared completely. Until recently only commercial vessels could take advantage of duty free supplies but the Customs & Excise (now H.M. Revenue and Customs) have now extended the scheme. To be eligible, yachts must proceed directly either south of Brest or north of the River Eider. If leaving from the West Country, such a passage south is eminently possible, and W.V. Brahms (Ships’ Chandlers) will be happy to help. They run the only Duty Free stores in the south west and can arrange deliveries at most of the main ports. They will calculate the amount you are allowed, based upon the number of crew (aged over 17) and the duration of the passage. Cartons of cigarettes are around £17 and spirits £7 - £9 per litre.

Paul Walkey, who runs the service, spent thirty years as a Ships Agent at the china clay ports of Fowey and Par. For the last ten years he’s run a small commercial chandlery, supplying cargo ships and the occasional foreign navy vessels. He can be contacted on 01726 817684 or at sales@wvbrahms.co.uk