Not everybody is riding out the pandemic on land. I quarantine where one might vacation.
The hold of my friend Chads 40-foot Jeanneau monohull, the Loulou, swung open rustily to reveal 10-pound sacks of rice and beans, cases of macaroni and cheese, and enough Budweiser, Barefoot cabernet, and Mount Gay rum for a years worth of booze cruises. Given all of this, Im not sure when well be allowed to come back to land, he said.
All of this, was, of course, the COVID-19 virus, which, like a worm, had wriggled its way between the cracks of the borders of the British Virgin Islands, the island territory where Ive lived and worked for two years, and where a good portion of the population either lives and works on boatsincluding Chad. When hed invited me and my friend, Ayla, to stay on board, hed described his neighbors moored on their own boats in a peaceful anchorage off Norman Island called The Bighttwo nice charter captains, a couple of live-aboard nudists from Virginia, and Chads ex-wife. (Hey, its a small island). Many of them lived on their boats, either as cruisers (in what amounted to floating RVs) or as charter crew. They didnt have homes on land to go to, or if they did, they could no longer get there, with the borders closed and locked down. It was like this all over the Caribbean. According to the New York Times, as many as 600 boatssome from as far away as Europe have now congregated in neighboring St. John, USVI because it was the only territory willing to allow them in. Meanwhile, back in the BVI, we were entering one of the strictest lockdowns on the planetno exercise, no groceries, no banks, no nothing.
As unappealing as that was, albeit for a good reason, I figured I could have a bit of fun taunting my friends on social media about where Id be spending lockdown: My quarantine is better than your quarantine! Plus, with people around the world unable to travel, I was already luckier than most to live where they longed to vacation. As long as I had the opportunity, nobody could blame me for eking a little adventure out of the giant sack of crap that COVID-19 has dumped on all of us.
Of course, that was (maybe) what billionaire David Geffen was thinking, too, when he posted to Instagram a stunning sunset picture from the Grenadines from the promenade deck of his $590 million yacht, with the message Isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus.
Or maybe not. In any case, Twitter roasted him. Talbert Swan pretty much summed it up:
But a bunch of mini-Geffens we were not. The Loulou was modest, with two cabins, refurbished after Hurricane Irma half-sunk it. The floor creaked. It appealed to me because I was obsessed with Money Bay, a deserted cove at the back of Norman Island that had everything Robert Louis Stevenson must have dreamed of in a literary backdrop (he famously set Treasure Island there). I pictured myself as a kind of picaresque castaway heroine. Maybe Id emerge having written a roman clef to COVID-19The Decameron or My Journal of the Plague Year, at sea. Chad assured me we could have the run of the empty island, and he had enough food and wine to outlast the apocalypse, which meant I didnt have to shop. I was in.
Chad assured me we could have the run of the empty island, and he had enough food and wine to outlast the apocalypse, which meant I didnt have to shop. I was in.
Our first morning as castaways, it was only a dinghy ride and an easy 10-minute hike up the hill and down the other side, past the boarded-up Pirates Bight beach bar, manned by a sole live-in caretaker. A path led down to the beach, where a previous castaway had already constructed a crude shelter out of driftwood, fishing net, and grape leaves. The bottom was sandy and silky, so unlike the other side of the bay, which had rocks that cut into your feet, and was shallow and clear out almost to the reef. For a minute, I just floated and stared up at the sky and forgot that the world felt like it was ending. From shore, I vaguely heard Chad talking about coming back with a speargun to hunt for lobster and conch. I can do this, I thought. If its like this the whole time, I can do this. We made plans to come there every day.
However, that night, the self-appointed lockdown police swung into action, informing Chad that theyd spotted him onshore. It only got worse from there. Two snorkelers at 12 oclock, someone squawked the next morning. That afternoon: Paddleboard alert! The next day: Dinghy spotted in the channel, wonder where theyre going? Since all boat traffic had been prohibited, even the slightest movement was screamingly obvious. For some reason, Chads ex-wife started flying a drone and posting pictures of whatever she saw. The next day, the Marine Police, with scarves wrapped around their faces, roared up, looking grim. Apparently, they were there to scold the caretaker for going from boat to boat demanding mooring fees during a pandemic, which seemed fair, but we didnt want to test them further.
Now, it wasnt quite the afternoon booze cruise Id become accustomed to. Meanwhile, around us, other boats were starting to run low on supplies, and the government hadnt provided for them to get water, provisions, or fuel for the generators, pump out, or dump their rapidly accumulating garbage. Chad called the marine police on behalf of our neighbors, hoping they could be escorted to shore, but it was fruitless. I knew it was to keep people safe from the virus in a tiny place with a minuscule health-care system, but it still stung. We are the sailing capital of the world, as a friend in the marine industry put it. We cant not have boats in the water.
There was no conch, no lobster, no hikes, no barbecues. We had nightly live streams of government announcements, Netflix, and backgammon, which only Chad and Ayla seemed to understand, and spats over using too much water to wash dishes. We were making coffee on the stove because Chad had forgotten the coffeepot and we had no way to get another one. It had become just a regular, boring coronavirus lockdown, only we pumped the toilet instead of flushing it. I wondered how long it had taken David Geffen to realize the same thing.
It had become just a regular, boring coronavirus lockdown, only we pumped the toilet instead of flushing it. I wondered how long it had taken David Geffen to realize the same thing.
The highlight of our week was one of our neighbors snorkeling over like a Navy Seal. Ill trade you some coffee for some potatoes, she said. I kept talking because I didnt want her to leave. I realized I had started to lose track of time. With no traffic by your window or street noise, it was easy to do. At night, anchor lights competed with Orions belt for my attention alongside the slow slap of the sails against the mast.
Chads friend from up on the hill called and told us about the hundreds of boats in Coral Bay on St. John, part of the United States Virgin Islands just a few miles away, where the beaches and shops were still open.
Over time, theyve worked out a better system to take care of all the boats whose cruising holidays had turned into nightmares, coordinating with the Marine Police and Virgin Islands Search and Rescue. You dont move until someone says you have permission to move, as Chad put it.
One night around sunset I went for a boat showerin other words, jumping overboard, scrubbing as best as you can, then rinsing off with a hose. A sea turtle paddled by, flapping its limbs slowly and rhythmically. The Bight was rosy as a cloud. The iPod dock was playing Van Morrisons Into the Mystic. I thought back to some of my earliest sailing experiences, on a tall ship off Vancouver Island when everything was magic. For a second, it almost was.
Read the original:
- A Guide to the Caribbean Islands Reopening this Summer - Cond Nast Traveler - June 21st, 2020
- Massive Saharan Dust Plume Now in the Caribbean Sea to Complete 5000-Mile Journey From Africa to US This Week - The Weather Channel - June 21st, 2020
- All the Caribbean countries that are currently open for tourism - Time Out - June 21st, 2020
- Anything but plain sailing through the Caribbean - Sail World - June 21st, 2020
- Traveling to the US Virgin Islands, Explained Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Ritz-Carlton Reserve Reopening in Puerto Rico Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- St Barth to Reopen for Tourism on June 22 Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Tourism in the Caribbean will be different as they emerge from COVID-19 - South Florida Caribbean News - June 21st, 2020
- Latin America & the Caribbean countries need to spend more and better on health to be better able to face a major health emergency like COVID-19... - June 21st, 2020
- Pressure on Caribbean tourism - Caribbean Life - June 21st, 2020
- Caribbean business leaders worried about second wave of COVID-19 - Jamaica Gleaner - June 21st, 2020
- This Year's St John Celebration Is Going Virtual Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Why Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Stocks Just Got Torpedoed and Are Going Down - Motley Fool - June 21st, 2020
- Haitians join with Caribbean community to demand justice - Haitian Times - June 21st, 2020
- Divi Is Reopening Its Resorts in Aruba Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- THE VIEW FROM EUROPE: Britain's culture war and the Caribbean - Barbados Advocate - June 21st, 2020
- JetBlue Is Adding New Flights to St Thomas, Puerto Rico - Caribbean Journal - June 21st, 2020
- Will Attending Medical School In The Caribbean Hurt My Chances Of Becoming A U.S. Doctor? - Forbes - May 11th, 2020
- Sandals Planning to Reopen Most of Its Caribbean Resorts in June - Caribbean Journal - May 11th, 2020
- The Island of Nevis Says It Is Coronavirus Free Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - May 11th, 2020
- Taiwan's Medical Diplomacy in the Caribbean: A Final Stand Against Beijing? - The Diplomat - May 11th, 2020
- Ralph Jimenez: Corruption and hopelessness in the Caribbean - Concord Monitor - May 11th, 2020
- Caribbean tourism has been decimated by COVID-19. But the private sector can cushion the blow - World Economic Forum - May 11th, 2020
- Road to Recovery: Disney Plans, Plus Restored Flights to the Caribbean - TravelPulse Canada - May 11th, 2020
- The coast may be clear now, but sargassum is heading from the Caribbean to Florida shores, scientists warn - News-Press - May 11th, 2020
- The Caribbean can supply the US with ginger year-round - FreshPlaza.com - May 11th, 2020
- How Sandals Is Adapting Its Caribbean Resorts Caribbean Journal - Caribbean Journal - May 11th, 2020
- Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Could Be Eyeing a New Heroine - Gizmodo - May 11th, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean 6: Did Disney pick Karen Gillan for new lead? - Deseret News - May 11th, 2020
- North America: The curse of the Caribbean - IPS Journal - May 11th, 2020
- Research Shows Transplanting Staghorn Corals Could Help The Species Recover In The Caribbean - National Parks Traveler - May 11th, 2020
- Royal Caribbean Owned Cruise Ships Gather at Private Island - Cruise Hive - May 11th, 2020
- Do you know the volcanoes of the Caribbean? - Loop News Barbados - May 3rd, 2020
- The Perfect Sun Shirts for the Caribbean - Caribbean Journal - May 3rd, 2020
- Hurricanes Are Reshaping Evolution Across the Caribbean - The New York Times - May 3rd, 2020
- From The Bahamas to St Thomas, the Caribbean's Most Famous Cocktails - Caribbean Journal - May 3rd, 2020
- Caribbean Hotels Advised to Replace Buffet Dinners and Minibars - Travel Agent - May 3rd, 2020
- Latin America and the Caribbean Region COVID-19 Situation Report No. 2 - Argentina - ReliefWeb - May 3rd, 2020
- Hold on Tight: Researchers Say Caribbean Lizards Grow Bigger Toes to Survive Hurricanes - The Weather Channel - May 3rd, 2020
- Pirates Of The Caribbean 6: Release Date, Plot, And Get All The Latest Updates We Have So Far - World Top Trend - May 3rd, 2020
- Puerto Rico earthquake: 5.5 magnitude quake rocks Caribbean - is there a tsunami warning? - Express.co.uk - May 3rd, 2020
- Escape To The Caribbean With These Soulful Recipes - Essence - May 3rd, 2020
- One Photographer Documents the Lives of Schoolchildren in the Caribbean - AnOther Magazine - May 3rd, 2020
- Heres Everything You Know So Far About Pirates Of Caribbean 6 - World Top Trend - May 3rd, 2020
- Port of New Orleans gains new Evergreen service offering connections to the Caribbean - Container Management - May 3rd, 2020
- European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean: joining efforts against the coronavirus - OnCubaNews - May 3rd, 2020
- A Rockefeller Resort in the Caribbean Is Restored to Its Rustic Glory - Yahoo Lifestyle - May 3rd, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Every Main Character, Ranked by Sword-Fighting Skills - Screen Rant - May 3rd, 2020
- Royal Caribbean: Best of a Challenged Bunch, but Thats not Saying Much - Yahoo Finance - May 3rd, 2020
- Protecting the Caribbean's most vulnerable people in the face of COVID-19: A UN Resident Coordinator blog - UN News - April 2nd, 2020
- How A Little Island In The Caribbean Sea Is Standing Up To The Goliath Of Coronavirus - Forbes - April 2nd, 2020
- Empty Hotels. Idled Tour Buses. The Pandemic Is Devastating Tourism. - The New York Times - April 2nd, 2020
- How COVID-19 Has Affected the Caribbean and Latin America - NBC 6 South Florida - April 2nd, 2020
- CBP Reminds Boaters of Reporting Requirements in the Caribbean to Slow COVID-19 Spread - HSToday - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean Moment: A Perfect Sandbar in The Bahamas - Caribbean Journal - April 2nd, 2020
- Corona Around the Caribbean - The St. Kitts-Nevis Observer - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean Moment: In Saint Lucia, a Journey to the Pitons - Caribbean Journal - April 2nd, 2020
- Around the Caribbean...Around the Caribbean...Around the Caribbean - Jamaica Observer - April 2nd, 2020
- Customs and Border Protection Reminds Boaters of Reporting Requirements in Caribbean - St, Thomas Source - April 2nd, 2020
- 24 Movies That Will Take You to the Caribbean Right Now - Caribbean Journal - April 2nd, 2020
- Take a mini-break in the Caribbean without leaving your house - Lonely Planet Travel News - April 2nd, 2020
- Are You Ready to Buy Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL? - Motley Fool - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean nationals among thousands of COVID-19 deaths - Caribbean Life - April 2nd, 2020
- Caribbean Map / Map of the Caribbean - Maps and ... - March 31st, 2020
- Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean...Around the Caribbean... - Jamaica Observer - March 31st, 2020
- Helping the Caribbean in a Pandemic | Therese Turner-Jones - Caribbean360.com - March 31st, 2020
- CHTA: The Caribbean will resurface stronger in tourism - Dominican Today - March 31st, 2020
- Captain Lee From 'Below Deck' Expresses Concern the Caribbean Will Be 'Hit Hard' by Coronavirus - Showbiz Cheat Sheet - March 31st, 2020
- Trinidad Records Third Death from COVID-19 - caribbeannationalweekly.com - March 31st, 2020
- On the Trail of James Bond in the Caribbean, From Jamaica to Nassau - Caribbean Journal - March 31st, 2020
- Caribbean Map / Map of the Caribbean - Maps and Information ... - March 26th, 2020
- Caribbean Must Prepare Against Food Shortages because of COVID-19 - caribbeannationalweekly.com - March 26th, 2020
- Coronavirus Threatens Tourism Industry In The Caribbean - International Business Times - March 26th, 2020
- COVID-19 Pandemic and Latin America and the Caribbean: Time for Strong Policy Actions - International Monetary Fund - March 26th, 2020
- COVID-19 Watch: Caribbean islands surge past 750 confirmed cases of coronavirus - Antigua Observer - March 26th, 2020
- 10 Movies To Watch If You Love Pirates Of The Caribbean - Screen Rant - March 26th, 2020
- Reinvigorating Economic Growth in Latin America and the Caribbean: Can deep trade agreements help? - International Banker - March 26th, 2020
- Caribbean update on COVID-19 situation in the region - eTurboNews | Trends | Travel News - March 26th, 2020
- Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean... Around the Caribbean - Jamaica Observer - March 26th, 2020
- Government urged to halt implementation of public charge rule against Caribbean immigrants - NYCaribNews - March 26th, 2020