After visiting family and friends for my dad’s 100 birthday, we flew back to Antigua to rejoin Kalunamoo (see last blog). So far, we have had 4 covid tests to travel. A PCR in St. Lucia to allow sailing to Antigua; a quick test in Antigua to fly to NY; a quick test in NY after 4 days of self-quarantine; and finally, another PCR test to fly back to Antigua and then self-quarantine here for 14 days on board. We are glad that the original intent of “quarantine” meaning 40 days separated from others is now more flexible. Modern usage has shrunk that time period considerably. While all tests were negative, we still had to take daily temperature checks for the last 2 weeks here in Antigua (2x day) and to text them to the Health Department. But as of today, the Q flag is lowered as we are officially out of quarantine!
There is a general curfew here from 6PM to 5AM. Restaurants only have take-out although most businesses are open. Vaccines are just coming into the islands as they are getting donations from developed countries. It will be awhile before all locals will get the shots but with island populations around 100,000 it is not an insurmountable problem. Trinidad remains closed. Their population is over 1 million and still refuse international entry. Rumor has it that they may open in the summer based on how well the U.S. does with lowering their case load. All the other islands, relying on the tourist trade, are open but with strict requirements and protocols as the virus continues to circulate.
We are facing a similar situation as we did last spring of planning for the summer. Trinidad, again, does not appear too hopeful, as of right now, as our summer location. It looks like St. Lucia will again be our base and hopefully air flights in and out will continue. We will need a PCR test to get in but no quarantine. Our plan is to be vaccinated in the States in May when we can fly from St. Lucia (after a quick test to enter the U.S. again). That will probably be a requirement for all travelers by the end of the summer. Needless to say, all this testing renders island hopping difficult!
Fourteen days quarantined on the boat! But wait. Weren’t we on board for 15 days when we sailed from Virginia to the BVI’s? Yes, so, it was not so bad. Considering we could see Netflix and sleep all night and not stand watches while sailing, it was a piece of cake. Actually, we could have had cake but settled for brownies, doughnuts and cookies. We carry enough food to survive! We also have some cruisers that delivered some essentials while quarantined at anchor.
We could also get off the boat and into the water, just don’t swim to shore. The water temperature is around 80, as is the air, so swimming was encouraged. When we flew back to Kalunamoo we then sailed from Jolly Harbor Marina to Deep Bay to wait out the quarantine. It’s a good anchorage and a few other cruisers we knew were here. We could not leave the boat, but they came over, staying alongside – social distance – in their dinghy to share sundowners. My birthday was the other day and so we celebrated “dinghy style” with them. Among other things, sunset conch horn blowing became competitive.
Good cellphone internet, DVD movies and zoom calls made the quarantine more than bearable. A few small boat projects and compiling 10 years of blogs and pictures on the laptop has taken up the time. Next month will mark our tenth year of full-time cruising and liveaboard. The pandemic has certainly put a crimp in cruising but after this summer things should become more “normal”. We’ll see how that turns out. In the meantime, we sailed back to Jolly Harbor to do some food shopping. The freezer was almost empty, and it was time to restock!