May 01, 2020 Voyage Planning in a COVID World
Current port restrictions and issues with non-residential visitors have created concerns regarding voyage planning and preparation. Outlined below are a few items to think about before making the journey:
#1 Don’t Count on Being Able to Resupply with Fuel and Provisions Immediately Upon Arrival
Given the ever-changing situation on the ground, you might find yourself denied entry into a marina or not being allowed to send crew and guests ashore at your intended destination. Consider this as part of your planning when you are obtaining fuel and/or supplies and ensure to have enough reserves to get you to a secondary destination if you are denied entry at your primary port of call. Take the time to complete and use a Passage Plan to help get your thoughts on paper if you aren’t already required to do so.
#2 Don’t Count on a Lot of Support from Flag States
Many Flag States such as the Marshall Islands and Cayman Islands have done a great job modifying their requirements for surveys during the pandemic. However, don’t be surprised if your Flag will not have much sway in helping you land anyone ashore if denied entry to a port. Flag States must defer to local requirements in these matters, and even if you are faced with a declaration of safe haven things can be tricky. The best source of support is going to be from local agents who can interact with the port authorities and provide you with updates prior to arrival. Make sure you are reaching out ahead of time to reduce the chance of problems before they arise.
#3 Some of Your Crew (or Guests) Might not be Allowed Entry
One of the ways many governments combated the spread of COVID-19 was to close their borders to non-residents. This can create problems for yachts with a mixed nationality of crew and guests – especially where one or more are on the restricted list.
The best way to ensure you won’t have any issues with entry is to have maintained an updated crew and/or guest list. This is important to show that you have had crew and/or guests onboard for longer than the 14-day minimum requirement many nations have enacted. It would be even better if you have already cleared into the country prior to the lockdown taking place, and that this can be shown on crew and/or guest passports/visas.
For example, if you have a crew member or guest from the European Schengen Area that has joined the vessel in the last 14 days while in the Bahamas and you attempt to enter the United States, they will be denied entry by Immigration Officers.
If you are in doubt, you can contact the local immigration office directly and they can advise you within a few hours if you will have any issues prior to arrival. Be prepared to provide Passport & Visa details during that call.