Practical Tips and Advice for Booking a Caribbean Yacht Charter During a Pandemic

We recently caught up with our friends at BlueFoot Travel to find out what's happening for sailors over in the Caribbean and what advice they have for yacht charter lovers during the Pandemic. Thanks for the blog guys!

Booking a yacht charter during a pandemic.

The days are slowly starting to get longer – yesss! But, boy it’s cold right now and its lockdown again!

Right now you are one of many dreaming of setting sail on a yacht charter in tropical waters.  Do you want to drop anchor off a stunning golden beach and head ashore for a sundowner – perhaps a famous Killer Bee cocktail from Sunshine’s on Nevis? Are you planning to book a Caribbean sailing holiday but are not sure how to navigate the travel advisories?

Travel is certainly not as easy as it was, but it is still very much possible and is a great adventure. And as yacht charter operators in the Caribbean, BlueFoot Travel has lots of insights to share with you as you start planning your next sailing holiday.

Here are their top tips for planning sailing itineraries and managing Caribbean island entry protocols. They also have great advice about healthmonitoring and cleanliness guidelines you should consider when preparing for your next sailing trip.

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How The Pandemic Affected BlueFoot Travel

On 19th March 2020, Neil and Sam from BlueFoot Travel were getting ready for a yacht charter in the British Virgin Islands when all ports and airports closed. Guests arriving via the US Virgin Islands could not get to the BVI. And they were unable to pick them up due to border closures.

That was the end of the season for them. And like everyone else, they had no understanding of how long the pandemic would last. So they sailed their yacht Nemo south to St Vincent & The Grenadines where they were for the majority of the lockdown. In mid-June, they sailed Nemo to Grenada in preparation for the hurricane season, which is where they are right now.


Your Sailing Itinerary: Charter Start and End Points

When sailing in the Caribbean, many sailing itineraries start and end in a different country, leveraging islands close to each other to expand sailing opportunities. When planning your yacht charter consider staying within the borders of one country. This will reduce potential quarantine and port and airport border issues, should restrictions change during your holiday.

Example 1: At the time of writing, if you start a sailing trip in St Lucia, you will not be able to get to St Vincent & The Grenadines without a COVID test and a 14-day quarantine period on your yacht at a designated anchorage.

Example 2: The British Virgin Islands is only open to air arrivals. Yachts not already in BVI waters will not be able to enter until March 1, 2021. So you will need to arrive by air to start a charter in the British Virgin Islands and the yacht will already have to be there.

When planning where you want to sail, consider the scope of sailing and anchorages available within a country’s borders. Are there enough anchorages and sailing opportunities for a week or two? These countries all have great sailing areas within their own waters for a 7 to 10-day boat charter:

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Entry Protocols

Each of the islands has their own entry requirements, although some CARICOM countries have tried to align where possible. As you plan for your sailing trip, one thing to consider is a sail and stay vacation. This way you can maximise your travel and enjoy island life before and even after your yacht charter.

Entry Protocols include:
  • Having an approved negative COVID 19 PCR test result 72 hours before boarding the flight. And in most islands, an extra test or tests are required when you arrive
  • Pre-arrival paperwork and in some cases downloading tracing apps /bracelets for use once you arrive
  • Quarantine periods ranging from 0-19 days depending on the infection rates where you are travelling from at a given time

Below are links to all the travel advisories for islands with great sailing in the Caribbean. You will find links to government approved accommodations on the islands from these links as well.

Health Monitoring

Until a vaccine is broadly administered, testing for antibodies is one of the only ways that islands without huge medical infrastructure can protect their borders from travellers arriving at their shores.

As such you will likely be asked to show tests results or have an actual test on your way to your sailing holiday, either by the airline, by immigration and by the sailing holiday company as well. These are often nasal swabs or instant blood test achieved from a small prick of the finger.

Consider the following health guidelines when you plan your sailing charter:

  • Adhere to social distancing guidelines in the country/ies you are sailing to and from. You can find all the details by country in the links above
  • Bring your own mask(s) and PPE equipment, as many islands are unable to provide them
  • Wear masks once you land until you meet your yacht crew or are at sea
  • Agree to have a temperature test upon arrival and during your trip so that you can check how you are doing. Tell local authorities if you have any symptoms. If you can bring your own thermometer.
  • Bring your own snorkel and mask if you want to snorkel during a trip
  • Research where you can get testing done on an island should you need to have a test during your sailing trip

Yacht Cleanliness and Provisioning

Cleanliness, hygiene and staying healthy are top of everyone’s minds right now. Making sure the boat you are sailing on is ship shape and spotless is more important than ever now too.  

Most yacht charters will always have done this, but when booking your yacht charter make sure you understand what the cleaning protocols are, before you jump on board your yacht. And if you are sailing with a skipper or crew, find out what social distancing policies will be in place. Some guidelines to consider:

  • 48 hours between charters to minimise any virus transfer
  • Your charter company can tell you what is being deep cleaned above and below deck, before your charter starts. And what the cleanliness standards will be during your charter:
  • Sanitizer suitable for hands and surfaces will be available in cabins and shared spaces. This is especially important when leaving and coming back from ashore
  • All surfaces in communal areas are frequently disinfected
  • If you have a provisioning package, disinfect all containers and packaging brought onto the boat before storing. Wash fresh produce and store appropriately. If provisioning for yourself do the same before taking anything below deck.

What’s Not Changed & Has Got Even Better!

With a little bit of planning none of the above will detract from the amazing experience of getting out on a sailing boat.

You will still find wonderful trade winds, stunning anchorages and the wonderful sea life. And everywhere you go you will find friendly islanders, who all want to welcome you to discover their islands.

Never have we seen so many tropical fish, dolphins and whales and such clear waters. Now really is a great time to start planning your next sailing trip and if you would like to jump on board a yacht charter with BlueFoot Travel you can do so at www.bluefoottravel.com.

And if you are not ready to jump on a plane quite yet, why not start virtually planning your own Caribbean sailing trip with our route planning capability. Get your Free trial and start planning your next Caribbean sailing adventure here.

About BlueFoot Travel

We offer sailing holidays in the Caribbean. Join us on board a shared yacht and experience an unforgettable crewed cabin charter. Book a cabin for your sailing vacation –ideal for solo and single travellers, couples and small groups. Relax and recharge. Enjoy delicious healthy food. Get hands-on sailing experience with an RYA sailing instructor. And, have lots of fun as we sail from one beautiful island to the next.

Sail in style with BlueFoot Travel.

BlueFoot Travel
Neil and Sam, The BlueFoot Travel Team!

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