Longtime Cruising Columnists, Behan and Jamie Gifford, Share How Coronavirus is Affecting Their Impending Passage Plans

Totem’s bow floats high thanks to the anchor and ground tackle that lies on the concrete dock just forward of her stem. The bow looks naked without a chainplate, as last of Totem’s original chainplates is replaced. Projects are ticking off nicely as we prepare for April’s departure to the South Pacific.

Here in Mexico, none of the panic-buying of toilet paper or run on hand sanitizer we’ve heard about is happening. The rise of COVID-19 is influencing us regardless.

The wakeup call was more like a strident alarm this week when one of the families we know planning to stop in Galapagos was told by their Ecuadoran agent (agents being the easiest way to access these stunning islands) that boats with crew who had spent a month in Mexico would not be allowed to enter. At the time, Mexico had seven cases, zero serious, no fatalities. It is almost certainly a badly written piece of guidance which intends to prevent travelers through infected areas within the last month, but a sign of the times as borders clamp down and cruisers feel the impact. As travelers accustomed to an unusual amount of freedom of movement on our floating islands, the prospect of constraints has snapped many cruisers to attention.

In a pending issue of Cruising World I have an article that provides a broad overview of how cruisers are being impacted, what they should know, and how to prepare as COVID-19 makes a growing global mark. Here’s how we’re specifically being impacted.

No run on toilet paper in Puerto Vallarta! Wish you were here? Aussie cruiser Andrew niggling the #codebrown situation friends have at home. photo: Karen Deeley
No run on toilet paper in Puerto Vallarta! Wish you were here? Aussie cruiser Andrew niggling the #codebrown situation friends have at home. photo: Karen Deeley

At this writing, there are no additional requirements for cruisers entering French Polynesia. However, other changes to traveler arrivals are in place in the territory: all arrivals in commercial flights are required to have certificates of good health and are given thermal screening upon arrival. In addition, all cruise ships must now enter French Polynesia exclusively through the port in Papeete, Tahiti and not stop any other port prior in the archipelagoes. Although regulations such as these are not yet applied to private yachts, they guide our preparation.

The extended route means navigating through the minefield of Tuamotu atolls
The extended route means navigating through the minefield of Tuamotu atolls.

Health Certificates

Within a few days of departure, we’ll prepare health certificates to be reviewed (with examinations as needed) and signed off by a medical professional…

Read the full post on Sailing Totem.