The COVID-19 virus made it to Paradise. The Bahamas have taken bold steps to try to contain the virus, and it has reached Nassau, Freeport, and a small cay in Bimini chain, Cat Cay.
Since mid March all of the Bahamas have undergone an increase in curfew procedures. We boaters are very much isolated from almost all of the population, coming in contact with only those that staff the grocery stores, or fuel services. I have personally only been ashore for propane, trash runs, and some groceries, and Jenny has done the shopping with a mask on her face.
We are forbidden to even go to deserted beaches. The logic escapes me somehow. Although I know that they are governing for the best of their citizens, who despite the Government’s best efforts to contain the virus, refuse to obey the orders, and hence the orders get more stringent.
It was distressing to learn a couple of days ago, that all foreign boaters are completely restricted from going ashore, for any reason. Not at all a welcoming feeling.
And so, we have decided to head back to the US.
The lockdowns are complete and absolute, included no boat traffic allowed at all on weeks ends, including the past Easter weekend, lasting 5 days.
We have been able to remain, some what, sane by using the time to do boat jobs. And so I though it would be fun to list these as best as I can. And to tell you what life on board Southern Star looks like.
We were actually fortunate to have gone to the marina at Emerald Bay, just before the shit hit the fan. I went to Ft Lauderdale for a part for the stabiliser and returned with it just prior to the first Coronavirus case in Nassau. We bought some diesel fuel, did a big grocery shop and bought a supply of rum.
- First job was a major one, repaired the stabiliser. I was waiting for a part (another one- as the part from Ft. Lauderdale did not solve the problem) and was very concerned of it’s arrival. It did finally, and after I spent 4 hours at the customs clearing office, I received it.
- Engine room clean up. Generator oil change, change filter on hydraulic system, which runs the stabilisers.
- Luckily we had just received a SIM card from BTC, just prior to lockdown and we are able to get data.
- Started polishing and waxing the topsides. Cockpit, boat deck without dinghy, starboard side cabin and walkway.
- Polished all stainless steel bright work , including bimini top on Flybridge and cover over the cockpit
- Cleaned waterline including stainless steel rub strake
- Cleaned and detailed the dinghy.
- Change fuel filter on dinghy
- Replaced black tank vent in bow locker
- Cleaned the boat’s bottom. Brushed all underwater metals. Props, coolers, struts, bow and stern thrusters
- Cleaned bbq grill, including disassemble and clean valve and jets.
- Polished transom
- Removed, cleaned and greased bow anchor roller
- Cleaned salon, cabins, pilot house and polished wood and did a photo shoot to update the blog site.
We’ve busy shopping for insurance for the then plan of heading to Panama. This of course no longer required, as all ports south are closed and we are approaching hurricane season.
We’ve also been checking on status of the states, Florida, GA, NC, Virginia as we checked alternate plans to head back. We’ve received quotes for freighting Southern Star back to New Zealand.
We’ve also been reading our favourite writers, watching news updates from around the world including back in New Zealand. We’ve been playing scrabble, and taking the odd required nap.
Jenny has been disciplined in doing her on boat workouts (usually nap time for me).
And so goes our quarantine. We miss the freedom immensely that our normal life as a cruiser brings us. We miss walking on the beach, climbing the trails, snorkeling for lobster, fishing as we make our passages.
I know it could be worse and it is for so many.
We are now sitting at Great Harbour Cay, in the Berry Islands. We left Georgetown a week ago, and stopped at Staniel Cay for the week end lockdown. There were about 20 boats at Big Majors anchorage, and the marina was busy selling fuel, and boaters going to the small grocery store there.
Seems the restrictions here are not as enforced here as in GT, where groceries had to be delivered to your boat.
We departed Staniel and did an overnight run to Great Harbour, and are now awaiting a weather window to cross to the USA. We are planning to miss Florida completely. And hope to clear in at Brunswick, GA.