Sail bureaucracy paperwork

All's well that ends well. We bought a new genoa and it is on the ship with us. In this respect, everything could have ended worse. After all, we saved a lot of VAT. However, I wonder if we can ever take this genoa back to the EU. Maybe I shouldn't be writing about it?

It all started with the fact that we reefed our genoa too late during the crossing to the Canary Islands and therefore our lower leg was torn off. It actually started with the purchase of Sissi, because the genoa was no longer really fresh. The sailmaker in Stavoren has already told us that it will not last long. Therefore, it was already planned to have a new genoa made on the way. Blue-eyed and inexperienced as I am, I wanted to do that in the Canary Islands. There are many sailboats, where there are sailboats there are sailmakers and sailmakers make sails. I thought. And there is no VAT on the Canary Islands, so the sail must be cheaper there. I thought.

Genoa at the sailmaker

So we carried our genoa to Puerto Calero for the sail maker. He was supposed to sew on the lower leg and make a new genoa. He could offer the former. After that, the genoa was at least reusable. He couldn't and didn't want the latter.

“Here in the Canary Islands all people order their sails either in Germany or in England. The sails are finished there faster and cost less. ” So much for my plan. So I got on the phone and found a sail maker in Germany who wanted to quickly sew a genoa and send it to Lanzarote. Since we had planned a week in Frankfurt anyway, the wait wasn't so bad. With was explained exactly what we have to measure so that the new sail fits. The sail maker in Puerto Calero helped us with the measurements. So far so good.


Then I quickly went to the computer, transferred the down payment to Germany and clarified by phone how the delivery should be. I looked for the delivery address from the Internet (Marina Rubicon) and sent it. We have received so many deliveries in the meantime that it is becoming a habit to put the shipping name and my name in front of the delivery address. So far so good.

Monday November 25th
During our stay in Frankfurt, the sail maker called me and informed me that the genoa was ready for dispatch. He wants to know if I would rather have delivered it to Frankfurt so that I can take it with me. I would have done that even if our return flight had not been the next day. The sail is therefore entrusted to UPS. After all, we have not had any bad experiences with this parcel service.

Tuesday November 26th
Before our return flight, UPS sends an email saying that our Genoa should be delivered on Thursday. Wow, I thought. Only three days from Germany to Lanzarote. Other parcel services can cut a few slices.

Wednesday November 27th
UPS sends an email that our sail has arrived in Gran Canaria. Then there are further emails every three hours, all in Spanish by the way, which reported an exception for the delivery. With the help of Leo, we can find out that the genoa is stuck in customs and it's not up to UPS to stop it being transported. No matter. The genoa is very close.

Thursday November 28th
The day of the announced delivery. In my mailbox there are already several emails from UPS that continue to report customs clearance. Dear people in Germany, you don't even know how good we are with the European Customs Union. The genoa stays in customs, I can hardly keep up with deleting all UPS mails. They installed a real spam machine there.

Friday November 29th
An email is coming from UPS announcing the delivery of the package by Monday, December 2nd. Nice. That’s enough for us. So far so good.

Monday December 2nd
In the early afternoon I received an email from UPS that the package should have been delivered, but Marina refused to accept it. We find out that the issue was that 210 € customs duties were due and that the marina refused "the package" but "the paperwork". UPS sends an email that the package is now on the way back. UPS asks if the goods can be destroyed. Jens and I go crazy. The marina explained to us that the address “yacht in transit” is missing from the address. How do we get this addition to the address? Nobody reports to UPS anymore.

Tuesday 3rd December
We are trying to contact UPS in Gran Canaria. Hopeless. English is not spoken at UPS in Spain. We don't speak Spanish. We cannot call UPS in Germany from here because the 0180 number cannot be called from abroad. We try to get the address change through the sail maker. I call Marcos, my former boss, who knows Spanish as a mother tongue. He agrees to call UPS in Spain. He can also call UPS in Germany.
Jutta from the Chapo calls her son. He also speaks Spanish fluently. He manages to reach Alberto, the parcel driver. He still has the package in his car. Jens persuades the boss from the marina to accept the package. Fortunately, Alberto has not yet unloaded the heavy box out of the car. Alberto wants to come back the following day.

delivery trucks

Wednesday December 4th
We are eagerly awaiting Alberto. I camp with a snack near the marina office in the shade. Jens waits at the boat if Alberto drives the package directly to the dock. Meanwhile, he can continue to paint the deck. In the early afternoon the time has come. The delivery truck arrives.

Thumbs up!

Alberto delivers the sail to the marina office and collects the € 210 customs fees. 30 seconds later I get an invoice from the marina for € 270. They add a bunch of fees for accepting the package. No matter. I do not give a shit.

Alberto brings the sail to the jetty and is given a friendly tip by Jens. Perhaps he will also transport a sail for another sailor. In any case, he doesn't make an unhappy impression on me when he leaves the marina.

Package with the sail in it

Now it is there, our new genoa. We would like to pull them up, but that is currently not possible with the wind gusts. We unpacked the package, stowed the genoa in the forward berth and had a beer on it.

On the one hand, the fun cost a lot of customs and marina fees, on the other hand, we saved a lot of VAT by delivering to Lanzarote. That is the good thing about it. If we had had the sail delivered to Frankfurt, that would not have been the case.


I don't know if we can bring the new Genoa back to Germany. Maybe we still have to pay tax on them. As a precaution, I keep the bill with the fees. It goes west, where German customs and tax law does not apply.

Thanks to everyone who helped us or wanted to help get the cloth out of customs. Thanks to Alberto, David, Jutta, Marcos, Stefan and Mrs. N. from the sailmaker. All is well.

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