Balloon Repair Station

Ferries & Transportation

Updated 20th January 2013

Ferry Crossing update DFDS come up trumps
Following conversations between Dave Such and DFDS Ferries following problems taking flight cylinders on their crossings their very fine Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor Matthew Jackson had a head scratching moment and has declared that DFDS English Channel Crossings will now allow a maximum total of 47kg of propane in any number of cylinders. The exemption has been extended to permit small cylinders of helium for met balloons, a small petrol can and fire extinguishers for use in the balloon. This is great news as it means you do not need to purge cylinders providing the total does not exceed 47kg (84 litres). There is no need to inform them at booking but you are asked to let them know at check-in. The applicable routes are between Dover – Calais and Dover – Dunkirk. As with all other crossings the cylinders must be securely strapped into the basket or trailer, shut off at the cylinder and stored away from sources of heat or ignition. Well done Dave.

If problems are experienced at check-in please ask them to contact the DFDS Duty Operations Manager on +44 (0) 1304 218 451 who should be able to sort out any problems or present the exemption letter. If all else fails and only as a last resort ask them to contact Matthew Jackson on 07833 504 316. Be sure to be aware that DFDS staff know that balloon cylinders have percentage gauges on them and that despite any arrangements the Captain’s decision is final. This is a great result and booking discounts are available if you ask for them. Book now

DFDS Propane Exemption [PDF File]

P&O Ferries ease restrictions 02.06.12
Having had a few hiccups reported by balloonists with P&O’s policy on taking cylinders on ferries the arrangements we are pleased to announce that they have reaffirmed their earlier requirement that all empty cylinders must be purged but will permit a maximum of 47kg in one cylinder. OK so its not much but it is one less cylinder to purge and it means you maybe able to get all your dregs into one cylinder. In case you’ve had a senior moment, or think you’ve missed something, as you get two litres for every kilogram we don’t actually have a cylinder big enough to take the 47kg permitted!
You are still advised to let them know at the time of booking that you are a balloon with purged cylinders. Make sure you have a purging certificate for the cylinders. No certificate No Go. Certificates can be downloaded from the British Balloon & Airship Club website or follow the link (should be working in a day or two) in the Pages bit under Ferries & Transportation or look it up in the Technical Section. The P&O Freight Office at your port of departure should be able to clear up any misunderstandings with the Ticket or Booking Office but if all else fails ask them, politely please, to call the P&O Freight Office in Dover 01304 863875 and speak to the brilliant Sam Mariner. Please do not use this contact directly unless you really need to as last resort. This arrangement applies to all P&O sea crossings. Don’t forget though that despite this concession the Captain’s decision is always final.

EB Purging Certificate template [PDF file]

Channel Tunnel.                                                                                                                                                                                     Following some excellent groundwork by Tony Jay we are pleased to report that The Chunnel will now accept two cylinders with a combined maximum of 50kg of fuel in them. All others must be purged and have certificates. The cylinders must be securely stored during transit. There is no need to declare when booking but you must notify them prior to loading.

They are aware that the most usual cylinders carried are 20kg and 30kg and that the cylinders have gauges that register percentage.

Any problems please contact Reena Moseley or one of The Sales Support Team on 08443 353535 or through their website Takes a while to get through on the jellybone but they are all very helpful and pretty clued up but will go and ask if they don’t know the answer. Dreadful incidental music while you are on hold though! Bit like backing music from a Leonard Cohen number!!

Quoting legals
MGN 19 was replaced by MGN 341 in 2008. This relates to the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG) and the carriage of dangerous goods on Ro-Ro ships. (nothing to do with The Chunnel).

Please note that the recommendations have changed the 47kg of propane in three cylinders to 47kg with no stipulation on the quantity of cylinders.

MGN340 (M), the most recent Guidance note from the UK MCA gives details and is the one to quote. The bit we are interested in is on page eleven. Please read and understand the requirements before booking or sailing.

Pressure receptacles (gas cylinders) carried on Ro-Ro Ships
(i) The MCA has replaced MGN 19 by MGN 341. With reference to the Carriage of Gas Cylinders in boats, caravans and other vehicles where the gas is used solely in connection with its operation or business; information previously found in section 8 of MGN 19 has been further developed and the carriage requirements expanded. These requirements can be found below:
(ii) This is a general approval and as such does not guarantee carriage in every case. It is important users inform the shipping line at the time of booking and not just prior to boarding, as operational constraints may limit the cargo including caravans being carried.
(iii) In paragraphs 1 – 5 below inclusive, the gas supply should be shut off at the cylinders and all cylinders should be adequately secured against movement of the ship, away from sources
of ignition and heat.
The requirement to declare to the shipping line prior to the sea journey remains. Failure to declare may be considered an offence under the Merchant Shipping (Dangerous Goods and Marine Pollutant) Regulations.
The following gives detailed guidance on paragraphs (i) and (ii). 1) “Nominally empty” It should be noted that the IMDG Code considers empty pressure receptacles (cylinders) as dangerous goods unless purged and a certificate confirming this accompanies the cylinder.
4) Propane and butane for private use Up to a total of 47 kg (excluding weight of gas receptacle)

Guidance notes are just that. It will always be at the discretion of the company and finally the ship’s captain on what can and cannot be carried on their ships and ferries.

Channel Ferries
Norfolk Lines and all the other ferry companies, unless you go Freight using a Dangerous Goods Note (DGN), which, to be honest, is a lot of effort for little gain, insist on purged cylinders accompanied by a Purging Certificate. Self declared certificates are fine but must list the cylinder type and serial number and carry the wording ‘purged and free from propane’. It is always best to declare at booking and on arrival at the Terminal before joining the queue. Reports still occasionally come in of confusion on the dockside even with purged cylinders. If this happens ask politely to speak to the company’s Freight Office or refer the loadmaster back to the booking office. Getting a name and rank when booking in always helps.

Longer crossings
We have been informed that Brittany Ferries will accept a maximum of three 15kg gas cylinders. No problems have been reported. All cylinders should be adequately secured against the movement of the ship and the cylinders must be switched off during the crossing (seems sensible!). This can be found in ‘frequently asked questions’ on their website Effectively this means a maximum of three cylinders that do not need purging. So for those sailing further, to Caen for example, things are looking good. Please ensure you tell them that you will be carrying propane as directed in MGN 341 at the time of booking. If you have a problem ask to speak to the Freight Department.

Irish Sea Crossings
All crossings continue to be purged cylinders only.

BBAC Website
Apart from here, obviously, if you are a member of the BBAC then all the latest news concerning crossing the Channel, either under or over, can be found on the their Website Go to Technical Information and look for Travelling with Flight Cylinders and look at the latest Channel Crossing News. Please see the previous Channel Crossing News for further advice or reported problems. Any problems or news is always gratefully received and will be followed up and put on the Website as soon as possible. Thanks for all your input.

Chris Dunkley 25/01/12.