Voyagers and closed borders


The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has had a major effect on the situations and the future plans of live-aboard voyagers in every cruising anchorage. A particularly affecting picture of the situation in which many voyagers find themselves was written by Australian sailors Pete and Jen Bernard aboard the Jarrett 50 Steel Sapphire. The Bernards are currently at Uligan, an island in the Maldives. And, like other voyagers, they are facing difficult choices as cruising destinations around the world close their borders and their ports to foreign vessels.
The Bernards wrote honestly and eloquently about their situation in a blog post titled “Desperately Seeking Solutions” on their website,

“…Based on your country, people have been told to restrict their movement, stay at home, and limit their excursions to exercise or getting food.

“But what happens if you don’t have a home, in the conventional sense? And what about if there’s no way to get to your own country without the risk of significant environmental damage and/or putting yourself in terrible personal danger?

“Spare a thought for those of us whose home is floating and subject to the vagaries of storms, cyclones and worse. Who have a limited supply of food, fuel and water, no shops to visit to resupply, and limited or no access to land for exercise.
“Spare a thought for those for whom each day is consumed by what happens when the country they’re currently anchored in asks them to leave, while every other country’s borders are closed and being defended by Navy gunships.
“Think about how it would feel to be a stranger in a strange land, knowing that the locals are barely coping themselves with hunger, grief or economic hardship, and may be looking upon you with fear that you are carrying the virus to their homes or are consuming their scarce resources.

“And all of this with the persistent dread about how you’ll cope when your engine, watermaker or other critical system breaks down and you have no access to spare parts or replacements.

“Like many other bluewater cruisers at the moment, we are in a precarious position, and our short- to medium-term future is fraught with high levels of stress, anxiety and danger.”

We recommend reading the rest of the Bernards’ blog post here.
We also have more on voyagers’ reactions to the pandemic in this issue’s Short Tacks section, which features two stories from voyagers in the Sea of Cortez and the U.S. Virgin Islands who detail how the situation is affecting their voyaging.

By Ocean Navigator