More than half way through 2020 and the world of recreational long-distance cruising has been turned on its head in just 6 months. Who would have thought late 2019, while planning the cruising season ahead, that we would all be frantically trying to follow the ever-changing rules worldwide in order to map an open route to cruise, or simply resigned ourselves to staying at home and cruising locally for the immediate future?
Having survived the storm of border closures in March/April, we are now seeing the majority of countries starting to open up again: some cautiously with tight restrictions in place including prior permission and a negative Covid test, others flinging open the doors with nothing more than a health questionnaire to complete prior to arrival.
Right now, any skippers thinking of cruising between countries should be aware that rules and regulations are in a constant state of flux during the pandemic and borders are tentatively open. As cases of Covid-19 spike once again we are seeing regional border closures and concern over a second wave in many parts of the world. Travel bubbles mean that one day your country of departure may be low-risk, and the next high-risk, so freely cruising (around the Mediterranean for example) is still a complicated process.
Be prepared that conditions may have changed by the time you arrive at your next destination and have all possible paperwork in order, including a comprehensive crew list and cruising history for the boat at least for the last 6 months, plus a well-kept log of all crew on board and their health status (including daily temperature checks). Bear in mind that quarantine may be required on arrival so have plenty of food, water and fuel on board and you may only be granted entry if all crew have negative Covid test results obtained 48 hours prior to departure from your last port. Have enough cash on board to cover tests on arrival should this be needed. Consider employing an agent (which in many countries is now obligatory) to ease entry and prepare all the correct paperwork plus keep you informed should the situation and/or requirements change while on passage. Keep abreast of all the latest requirements through our country biosecurity sections.
Feature Destination: French Polynesia
With so many cruising yachts stacking up in French Polynesia waters over the last 6 months and no place to go, the Islands’ anchorages have become very crowded, particularly in Tahiti, and resentment has been building among the local population against the yachties. A new Anchoring Restriction Decree has been passed in Tahiti and the Council of Ministers have announced that the maximum length of admission for exemption from duties and taxes for foreign pleasure vessels has been reduced from 36 months to 24 months. The Council said the action has been brought about after considering the harmful effects of “the permanent presence of some of these vessels on different lagoons.”
Swiss Cruiser Laure Olena wrote an article about the origin of the tensions in Tahiti between locals and cruisers on her boat blog. It is from her family’s viewpoint after spending 14 months in Polynesia, and will help those that are new to cruising in French Polynesia to understand the root of the problems. The Association of Sailboats in Polynesia (AVP) also have many good articles on their website about the current situation.