Life in lockdown on a Superyacht: Isolation around the world
As we are going through the Coronavirus lockdowns and in the absence of usual events and season preparations, we have taken it upon ourselves to provide some light entertainment.
Over the past few days, we have spoken to a few of our member yachts about what life is like in lockdown on a superyacht, in different parts of the world.
We are incredibly supportive of all yacht crews currently going through this, and what better way to outline the efforts and sacrifices they are doing other than to hear their stories directly.
Here’s what they have to say about life in lockdown, the challenges they are facing and predictions on the upcoming Med season!
Whitsundays, Australia - Captain Luke Cagney, Motor Yacht MISCHIEF
MISCHIEF is currently isolating in the Whitsundays, Australia, with live-onboard owners – 6 guests to be precise. To prepare for isolation, Captain Luke tells us they ‘‘took very strict measures onboard that minimised the risk. We are currently 14 crew and everyone joining the vessel goes into self-isolation for 2 weeks. Minimise crew going ashore and check every contractor’s temperature including making them wear appropriate PPE prior to boarding.’’
The crew’s daily routine now is based around keeping guests busy by cruising the Whitsundays and doing lots of fishing and diving whilst staying away from society.
When asked about the biggest challenge MISCHIEF is facing the Captain promptly replies, ‘‘it is taking extra measures to prevent the virus from getting onboard. The biggest one is managing crew logistics as we have 14 crew all on rotation, and everyone coming back must be put in self-isolation before re-joining the vessel.’’
We were curious how the crew are keeping themselves entertained in downtime and we found that although there is no downtime at the moment there is definitely fun time! ‘‘We are fortunate to have owners that love interacting and getting the crew involved. Everything we do is with them and is a blast.’’
You too can enjoy a fun time doing water sports, swimming in crystal clear waters or simply take in the breathing taking views the beautiful Whitsundays has to offer, all from onboard MISCHIEF.
St Martin, Caribbean - Captain Simon Smith, 35m Motor Yacht
Captain Simon runs a 35m motor yacht and has been isolating in St Marteen. We have asked him to give us a brief on how he and his crew are navigating through these times. With no guests on board, the situation is different from MISCHIEF’s, and here’s why:
‘‘We had the owner, his wife and dog on board cruising before we arrived in St Marteen. They decided to get the go home 12 days ago and since then I've locked the crew and vessel down.
The island has since followed all other French territories and locked down. Restaurants, bars, cafes closed, some offering only take-out. To leave marinas we now have to fill in paperwork for each member of the crew however, in the last couple of days all shore leave has been revoked. Thankfully the amazing team at BWA are supporting us with provisions and the occasional mechanical spares. National marine have been equally as helpful!’’
We wanted to know from Captain Smith what the biggest change from normal life to going into lockdown was:
‘‘Everything is so quiet. Barely a car on the roads, but I do see seven or eight turtles daily from the bridge in the marina.’’
From a crew perspective, he adds: ‘‘probably for the crew it's difficult because they cannot get off the boat. But they still have time off. We've got every single conceivable watersport toy known to man on board, but that's not getting used. I just don't want to risk any of the crew getting sick.
I studied medicine so I know viruses can mutate and how deadly single mutations can become. Why put crew and others at risk? One of my crew may be a carrier for the COVID-19 and pass it onto an elderly person and then in a weeks’ time, there's a wave of the elderly dying. That's not humane. Crew tend not to see the bigger picture and what work captains put in with them and also behind the scenes to keep them safe’’
To keep everyone entertained, they organise regular game nights onboard, as often as they get the chance and they have even set up Phi Golf on the sundeck TV for added excitement!
When asked about his predictions on the upcoming charter season he replied: ‘‘I think the Med season will be much later (this year). Italy is going to take much time to recover however Turkey hasn't seen much of a hit, even after the annual pilgrims came back, they went into military quarantine! Corsica isn't too bad either!’’
South of France – Erin Smale, First Mate, 41M Motor Yacht
Erin Smale is the First Mate on board a 41m motor yacht that is under lockdown in the South of France. The vessel has been in isolation for 15 days and we were very curious to know how they are handling things in Europe!
To give us an idea of how their boat prepared for the fight against the virus, Smale tells us: ‘‘Back in February when the first cases were announced in Italy, we started discussing safety procedures to be put in place, and during a crew meeting, we went over precautionary measures. At that stage, it was more raising awareness on what the COVID-19 virus was, how it was being transmitted and what everyone could do to stay safe and try and protect themselves. We restricted crew from using public transportation from the beginning and every person was given hand sanitizer to use anywhere and everywhere they went, as a mandatory precaution.
Later, we started stacking up on sanitizers, gloves and masks. We instated new cleaning rules and made sure everything we touch daily got cleaned very thoroughly. As our boat welcomed multiple contractors onboard daily, we organised a meeting with them to ensure they had the same info as the crew and were aware of risks when walking on the boat and the responsibility they have towards the people they come in contact with.
Early March we assessed the number of supplies onboard, making sure that if anything happened, we had enough food, cleaning supplies and toiletries for all the 7 crew members that are currently employed and living onboard.
During the 2nd week of March, the vessel had been put under a travel ban. Shortly after this, on the 16th of March, we stopped all day-working contractors and following Government indications, went to full lockdown on the 17th of March.’’
For this particular vessel, it sounds like the biggest challenge of all is the stop of all contract work leading up to the season because, as Erin tells us, everything was strategically planned and booked in for months. ‘‘Lots of work was planned for the past two weeks and now it has all been stopped, which puts us behind in terms of being ready for the summer season – engines being serviced, painting completed – everything is on hold’’.
Because of border closures, this is not the only challenge they face: ‘‘one of our crew members, the chef, is currently being stuck in the United Kingdom without any means to travel to France to join the boat. This puts us behind the training schedule, as she is new to our crew.’’
To keep spirits up the crew do regular group workout sessions together a few times a week, they play board and card games at the weekends and run crew training and drills in fun, interactive ways during the workweek. ’’The main motivation is having a job!’’ says Smale.
Philip Coetzee – Chief Officer, MY Coral Ocean, 73m
Chief Officer Philip Coetzee explained CORAL OCEAN first started looking at the COVID-19 problem in February 2020 and their initial response was getting into a port with access to a nearby airport, in a country with a solid healthcare system.
Soon after the vessel’s arrival into what is currently their homeport, France announced a 15-day lockdown (that has since been extended by another 15 days) so we asked Coetzee how the crew prepared for it: ‘‘Some of the first steps we took were checking with suppliers regarding food deliveries and provisioning, talking to the port on their regulations to ensure our vessel falls in line with what authorities have put in place, organising crew travel to and from the vessel and of course, setting up extra rules for hygiene’’.
Luckily, CORAL OCEAN is in refit mode and for that reason, the crew can carry on with the work scheduled for this period, regardless. ‘‘We are trying to keep thing as normal we can onboard,’’ Coetzee adds. And to try and keep a fun and positive atmosphere on board, all crew have started a group exercise program that involves, amongst others, early morning workouts like stretching and yoga. Coetzee also informs us that the crew entertain themselves with event nights and also a weekend event to look forward to. “So far, we’ve had comedy night, quiz night, take away night and so on. Plans for this upcoming weekend are ‘Make your own pizza’ Friday and High Tea Saturday’’ he adds.
We were happy to learn all crew are in good health and spirit and, as Chief Officer Philip says ‘‘that is a very rare position to be in these days’’.
CORAL OCEAN is currently undergoing an extensive interior and exterior refit in anticipation to the 2020 Summer season. This beautiful, pedigree Lürssen vessel will be available for charter in West and East Mediterranean, exclusively through Ahoy Club.
Overall, whilst the situation is not clear just yet and no one can say with certainty when all of this will be over, we can most definitely agree that isolating on a superyacht might just be the best way to get away to safety!
A superyacht not only offers complete privacy and no contact with society, but the level of cleanliness on board helps eliminate the risk to catch the Coronavirus.
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