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Quarantine Blues

Tim Clarke
July 12, 2020

This blog is aimed at crew, as we feel some are not taking their quarantine responsibilities seriously enough and this could have far reaching consequences.

With the unprecedented [currently everyone’s favourite word as it makes us sound more intelligent than we are] current situation across the world, yachting has faced some unique challenges. One of the main issues has been getting crew off and onto the yacht in a safe, controlled manner.

As an agency, we have come across a few scenarios where the best laid plans have gone wrong. Generally, not through the yacht being at fault, but down to crew thinking that the rules don’t apply to them or not following them to the letter.

Yachts are quarantining crew because a yacht is a hotbed for passing on COVID. There is a large group of people sharing a very small space and if one of you has it unknowingly then the chances are a lot of you will catch it. There are several yachts out there which have found that the entire crew has had COVID. In some of these cases only a couple of crew members have shown any symptoms at all. So, the majority of the crew have been asymptomatic. I suspect when all of this is done and dusted it will emerge that many of us will have had COVID and been unaware of it. 

In some circumstances people are being asked to self-quarantine at home, some on board the boat and some are being put up in apartments and hotels. Unless you are quarantining on the yacht, the other two scenarios require crew to have some discipline and follow the rules. That means not nipping out to the shops, not getting your partner from another yacht to come over to your apartment for ‘Netflix and chill’ or any variations of the above. As a crew member you have accepted a job which is based on you being COVID free, breaking these rules is completely out of order and can have serious consequences. Even if the country in question has relaxed its rules you still need to be watertight by avoiding contact with others as much as possible. 

A few hypothetical scenarios to consider...

1: You are in quarantine at a local hotel in isolation for 1 week before you join the yacht. Unfortunately, you have been breaking the rules and been out and about shopping and spending time in the public areas in the hotel. The yacht is about to cross the Atlantic and then pick up the boss. Once you get on board you are tested for the 2nd time that week and fail the test. The yacht can’t cross now, its schedule is wrecked, and they need to find a replacement at short notice and go through the whole process again. Plus, you could have already passed it on to other crew members. This has delayed the yacht’s plans by several weeks. Extremely irritating and expensive for the yacht. 

2: Once again you are supposed to be in quarantine and you are self isolating in your apartment in France for 2 weeks before joining the yacht directly, which is local to you. You have promised the yacht faithfully that you are being extremely disciplined and staying in the flat the entire time. You have 2 weeks of supplies. But in reality, you are nipping out as and when you feel like it for walks, overpriced treats from Geoffrey’s and some ‘social distancing’ socialising. You join the yacht, which already has the elderly owner on. You are tested a couple of hours after joining and the results come up positive. Whilst you have been kept separate from the rest of the crew during this time some cross contamination has gone on and the vulnerable, elderly owner will be exposed to the virus over the following days. The results could be disastrous. 

3: You are in quarantine in an apartment supplied by the yacht. The yacht is running an extremely tight ship and all preventative measures have been taken, twice daily temp readings, testing 3 x a week. You have been pretty good barring a few lapses to get out for a walk and do some exercise. You are tested just before you are due on the yacht and fail. The yacht lets you go instantly, you are out of a job and now have to be repatriated at significant cost to wherever you come from and will struggle to get another job this season. Months out of work earning nothing, spending your valuable savings and buying that house has been delayed another season. There are also selfish reasons to be careful even if you aren’t overly fussed about the health and safety of others?

So, the moral of the story is that if you get hired by a yacht and you have to go into some form of quarantine, then please do it to the best of your ability. The consequences of cutting corners are potentially far reaching and catastrophic. Not just for others but yourself too. Grabbing a quick McDonalds because you’ve been craving it really isn’t worth it when you look at the bigger picture. 

Good luck in your job hunt and stay safe.

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