March 20,2020. Bahamas.
The world is now a different place. Forever. The coronavirus pandemic has added heath and security concerns for our loved ones, as well as a level of unpredictability that profoundly affects each of us. The long term effect on world economy is still unknown. Sailing cruisers, like everyone else are affected.
The immediate impact of the pandemic on the world economy is evident, and border closures add an unexpected problem for cruisers. Sailboats don’t travel fast like airplanes, so we can’t just be where we want to be in a day. We can’t just leave a boat at anchor and fly home. Some cruisers are feeling stuck in a foreign port where they did not plan to stay. Some are worried about cruising permits of limited length. Hurricane season is not far away, and information on border closings for pleasure craft is mainly by word of mouth right now. Decisions must be made. Right now it is risky to cruise to a new island, in case customs and immigration is closed. It is also risky to stay put and be complacent with hurricane season approaching. Ports and marinas are closing to all boats, not just cruise ships. This morning on VHF16 Bahamas announced that all marinas are closing as non-essential services. Will it be difficult to get fuel and supplies?
We are living in an age where experts ( reference: NEJM conference 2018) say that there are 5 drivers of pandemics that predict they will increase in frequency and impact in the future: 1) the increase in human populations; 2) travel volume with the speed of travel exceeding the incubation time of most viruses; 3) dependence on animals for food while living in close proximity to animals, especially in Asia (most new viruses come from animals); 4) climate change and disruption of ecological systems (eg mosquitoes and malarial diseases); 5) mass gatherings allowing spread of disease to strangers that cannot be traced (eg concerts, sporting events). The coronavirus pandemic will afford teachings on what to do and not to do, not only for governments, but for cruisers as well.
Pierre and I are happy with our decision to get to Bahamas which is relatively uncrowded, and most islands not visited by cruise ships. We are lucky to be quite isolated in an anchorage, but we are not complacent. Many are still going to shore, to restaurants and socializing as normal. We plan to isolate for a couple weeks, and keep moving north to position to get back to mainland USA, when we feel the time is right. Luckily, we rushed to Georgetown, missing stops we previously planned. We were able to check into Bahamas without event. If we had waited even a day longer, the lockdown would have started, and the internet provider store would have been closed.
We know we are lucky to enjoy being in isolation in the Bahamas, compared to being in a small apartment in Boston, where we would have been if the pandemic started last year. We look forward to the end of these times of isolation when we can once again welcome our family and friends on board.
Our sailing adventure can be followed on our YouTube channel BioTrek-sailing. We have posted videos of our Atlantic crossing, travel from St. Lucia to Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Barths, St. Martin, Puerto Rico and Bahamas. Our videos not only show sailing, they highlight ongoing maintenance and repairs needed to keep a performance sailing vessel in top shape. Please enjoy and subscribe!