Sailing restrictions in Cyprus

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Good to know before sailing in Cyprus

Cyprus

Cyprus, officially called the Republic of Cyprus, is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia. It is the third-largest and the third-most populous island in the Mediterranean, located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, north of Israel, the Palestinian region of the Gaza Strip and Egypt, and southeast of Greece.

The Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west and comprising about 59% of the island's area, and the north, administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island's area. Another nearly 4% of the island's area is covered by the UN buffer zone.

The international community considers the northern part of the island to be territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces. The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law and amounting to illegal occupation of EU territory since Cyprus became a member of the European Union.

Sailing Conditions

The Cypriot summer is usually sunny with little or no rain. Summer winds (Meltemi) blow from April to October and while gentle in the mornings, they pick up over the course of the day.

Summer wind is South Westerly starting from the south in the mornings and picking up and shifting westward in the afternoon reaching about 15 to 25 knots wind speed.

Winter winds may change to the South East and blow to speeds of 10 to 20 knots, usually during December and January. The island has winter rainfall, mostly in December and January.

The Cyprus Sailing Federation oversees all sailing events and organises racing and training, as well as yachting regattas, throughout the year.

Territorial Sea

The Republic of Cyprus has a territorial sea, the breadth of which extends to 12 nautical miles from the baselines. Baselines are the lines along the coast of Cyprus.

The waters which lie between the land and the baselines constitute part of the internal waters of the Republic of Cyprus and are assimilated to the territory, where the Republic of Cyprus exercises full sovereignty.

Underwater Cultural Heritage

Cyprus, with its long and rich nautical history, attaches great importance to the protection of antiquities which lie on its seabed and, regulates activities in relation thereto, in order to protect its cultural and historical monuments from looting or from damage due to other maritime activities. The Republic of Cyprus exercises sovereignty as regards underwater cultural heritage in the territorial sea and jurisdiction as regards underwater cultural heritage in the contiguous zone.

The Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage Regulations are applied in all maritime zones of Cyprus, regulating matters concerning the protection of underwater cultural heritage. The Regulations are based on the Annex of the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, which constitutes an important guidance for anyone who undertakes exploration and excavation activities on antiquities at sea.

Pets

It is highly advisable for anyone planning to sail in Cyprus to avoid having pets on board. Yachts planning to visit Cyprus must well in advance inform the Marina or Port Authorities for the existence of a pet on board.

Most of the animals must remain on board (under home quarantine), for 6 months before they are allowed to exit the yacht. No dogs are allowed on beaches, the fine may be applied to anyone with pets.

Restrictions for sailing, warnings

Restrictions imposed by the Republic of Cyprus on vessels calling illegally at ports in the occupied areas of Cyprus.

The relevant restrictions have been imposed by an Order of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus which declares the ports of Famagusta, Karavostasi and Kyrenia as closed for all vessels.

Important to know and understand: The skipper or owner of a vessel which arrives and departs from a closed ports or enters or stays therein:

  • shall be guilty of an offence and be liable to imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding seventeen thousand eighty six euro (€ 17.086 ) or to both such imprisonment and fine, and in the case of a ship registered in the Register of Cyprus Ships, the Court dealing with the case has the power to order her deletion from the Register of Cyprus Ships”.
  • The above restrictions were taken in order to uphold and maintain the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over its ports and harbors and due to the fact that safety of navigation could no longer be guaranteed in the areas illegally occupied by the Turkish Army since 1974.

Buffer Zone

The buffer zone exists to prevent renewed hostilities between the opposing forces in the Cyprus conflict. While Cyprus has been peaceful for a long time, shots are sometimes fired into the buffer zone. In addition, thousands of land mines still lie dormant between the de facto ceasefire lines.

These are some of the reasons UNFICYP does not allow any activity within the buffer zone without prior approval, except within specially designated Civil Use Areas. Safety and the operational requirements of UNFICYP come first, followed by adherence to ownership rights of the land within the buffer zone.