I’ve mentioned Schengen treaty issues in some of my blogs. Who or what is Schengen? Let my enlighten you with my very rudimentary understanding of what the treaty entails. In order to make it easier for Europeans to cross borders within the continent, many of the European nations got together and signed a treaty creating the Schengen Area. There were various drafts and several countries joined later, but most of this happened in the early 90’s. The treaty area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes. There are external border controls for travelers entering and exiting the area, and common visas, but no internal border controls. It currently consists of 26 European countries covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 1,664,911 square miles. Of the 26 participating countries several are outside of the EU (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland), while several EU countries (UK, Turkey, Croatia) have chosen not to participate in the treaty. This treaty is in no way related to the Euro zone or the EU. It was purely set up to deal with borders. Now that I’ve given you a political science lesson, how does that affect cruisers? The treaty allows other members to cross borders without limits, but those nationals not part of the treaty area are limited in the Schengen area for 90 days at a time and after that time they need to be out of the Schengen area for an additional 90 days before heading back in. It is hard on cruisers because three months is not very long to get through most of the continent. You can get long term visas to stay more than 3 months, yet those are still difficult to get, and they limit a traveler to only one country per visa. We looked into long term visas and the first obstacle to overcome was we would have to apply for them from our own country at the desired foreign consulate. Impossible if you are already abroad. Less impossible, but more of a pain is you have to prove financially that you can stay in the country for the extended time and you have to provide a medical report from a physician. Anyway, they don’t make it easy for the cruiser and it is obviously aimed at limiting the movement of North Africans or other immigrants, but they have yet to make allowances for true long stay travelers. The penalty for violating the treaty is banishment for life from any Schengen country! Seriously, it is not to be taken lightly. Although, that said, there is talk about abolishing Schengen in response to the immigration crisis Europe is now faced with. As it relates to us, we aren’t sure if they rely on the honor system or if they are tracking passport movement. With our time in Morocco and the UK (including Gibraltar) and our slight delay in checking into Schengen areas on time, we are still officially in compliance, but rapidly approaching being out of compliance. While we are here in the river between Portugal and Spain, we are officially in International waters, but we aren’t really sure how they are keeping track of us. When the Portuguese police come up the river we quickly go over to the Spanish side and vice versa! There’s quite a bit of chatter about Schengen issues on US sailing forums, but here in Europe it doesn’t really affect many cruisers.
Anyway, this is a little bit of what we are up against. Again we are taking the beg for forgiveness rather than ask permission approach to cruising in the Schengen area.
Pictures aren't that exciting these days. Mike doing a little diving in 2 inch visibility to help a friend pull up a fouled anchor. Rainy day project for Porter and Baking with Ana.