Despite being a Kingdom, Belgium is actually a federal state of Western Europe with a strong economy and also a popular yacht charter destination due to its North Sea coast that provides a great playground for open sea sailors.
Generally, when sailors talk about destinations, Belgium is not among the most mentioned but it’s still an important place where people can find great marinas and great ports to explore the western coast of Europe.
Yacht charter in Belgium is not for the inexperienced skipper since the local coastline is both short and frayed with numerous dangers, one of the reasons why this region together with the neighbouring Netherlands produces some of the best skippers around.
There are not that many natural harbours along the Belgian coast, but the most important ones are located inland, such as Antwerp, Blakenberge, Brussels, Niuewpoort, Oostende and Zeebrugge. Also, making landfall in this region is quite difficult, since the coast is fringed by sandbars running parallel to the shoreline.
Mainly, Belgian ports and marinas are used as stopping points by crews that plan to cross the English Channel or British yachts that find themselves on a cross-channel trip. Some of the best sailing facilities are located in Ostend, Zeebruge and Niuewpoort, which are equipped with yachting facilities like large local yacht clubs, docking facilities, chandleries, fuelling and provisioning stations. So there are lots of services available for your boat rental too.
The climate in Belgium is mild, humid and wet, typical of temperate and oceanic climates. Winters are usually mild and rainy with prevailing winds from the W and SW blowing in gales. Summer months are warmer and less pretentious in terms of weather, which makes them a good time to visit.
Law & Order
As one of the founding members of the EU, most European citizens will find entry in the country easy and straightforward. Also, because it’s part of the Schengen Agreement, Belgium allows citizens from similar countries to enter without immigration control.
Upon entry, all yachts must report to Maritime Police Control at the port of entry and complete a specific form that can be obtained in advance or locally from the Harbour Master. Maritime Police have been known to make spot checks and yachts that have been found to be non-compliant have been fined.
The only restrictions apply to the busy harbours where a skipper on a sailing holiday must always obey the signals and on the inland waterways, where speed limits are imposed and in some cases a distance from the shore must be maintained when sailing.