The Canadian government has closed its borders and implored Canadian travellers to come home. But we have decided to stay put. For one thing, it’s not a good time to be travelling. Our risk of exposure is very limited if we stay on the boat. Secondly, we would have to put the boat up first, which would prove difficult with so many marinas and boatyards closing their doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Also, many flights have been cancelled, and the islands of the Caribbean are closing their borders one by one. It feels like a full-time job keeping up with all the changes while trying to determine our next move.
On a day-to-day basis, the coronavirus hasn’t had too much of an impact on our lives. Living on a sailboat is in and of itself a form of social distancing. In the last few days, we have only gone ashore once or twice to buy food and fuel. The rest of the time, we have been on the boat, in the dinghy, or in the water. We are currently in an extremely isolated place: the Tobago Cays Marine Park, in the Grenadines.
There is nothing here but a couple of small islands, and a large reef, with lots of turtles popping up all around us. There are no shops or restaurants here. Occasionally a boat boy will come by the boat offering overpriced t-shirts, lobster or baguette. So far we’ve only bought an 8-lb skipjack, as we were getting tired of canned food.
Tomorrow we will clear out of the Grenadines and head further south to Grenada and Carriacou, larger islands that have more infrastructure for visiting yachties (larger grocery stores, laundromats, etc.). For now these islands are still accepting foreign yachts, though the clearing-in process now has an added Health Inspection step.
We have lots of canned food on board, and finding fresh fruits and vegetables is never a problem. We also grow our own sprouts on board, David has started making bread, and we make our own juice in the blender using fresh fruit. We filled our water tanks in Bequia on the weekend so we have 120 gallons, which will last us about three weeks. We are well set up for isolation for a couple of weeks. If anything, this situation has convinced us that the next additions to our boat should be a watermaker, which we have been seriously considering for over a year, and a larger freezer. Then we could be fully independent for months, rather than just weeks.
In the meantime, we feel very safe here in our second home. There are very few cases of COVID-19 down here. The virus is rumoured to be unable to withstand higher temperatures, so we feel like we’re in a good spot. While we are limiting human interaction, the locals we meet are friendly and grateful that we are still here. We are doing our best to contribute to their economy, given that tourism provides most of these islands’ revenue, and it is already a short season that has now been cut even shorter. Plus, if you had to choose where to practice social distancing, wouldn’t you choose here?
Our flights are booked for the end of April. The plan is to return to St. Martin in a month, haul out and fly home. That said, we know that there are so many variables that could easily put a wrench in those plans, so we are remaining flexible and have multiple backup plans. Mel’s French passport is a valuable asset, since the French islands (Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Martin) would have to take us in—after the 14-day isolation period of course. In the worst-case scenario, we sail home to Canadian waters.
So don’t worry about us. We will be fine. Please be kind to and look out for each other, and take care of yourselves. We will see you soon.