Captain urges all crew to follow COVID rules; virus spreads without knowing

Apr 9, 2020 by Lucy Chabot Reed

By Lucy Chabot Reed

The captain of a 130-foot Westport docked at a marina in South Florida called this week to express concern at what he has seen on the docks: crew enjoying each other’s company as if much of the rest of the world wasn’t sequestered at home.

“I feel like I’ve been very cautious, but I’m concerned when I see everyone having barbecues, going from one yacht to another, hugging,” said this captain, who asked not to be named. He acknowledged that many captains may not be aboard, quarantining at home somewhere nearby and leaving one of the crew in charge.

“It’s the responsibility of the captain and first officer to make sure the crew are abiding by these rules,” he said.

Like most shipyards, the yard his yacht is in has distributed statements advising crew to not gather more than 10 together, maintain social distancing, wear a mask.

“But there’s no enforcement,” he said.

The owner is taking advantage of the down time to get projects completed on the yacht, and this captain has created protocols for outsiders coming aboard. 

“There’s a hand-washing station, hand sanitizer, and I ask everyone to wear a face covering, not necessarily a mask since they are hard to find, but a buff or something to cover your face,” he said. “I’m scheduling the work so there aren’t too many people here at once, and we’re keeping them outside or in the engine room only. The pretty things the boss wanted done on the inside, I’m not doing them.

“My concern is that if the boat down the dock is having a barbecue and they’ve spread the virus, then Contractor A goes onto their boat and then comes onto my boat, we’re exposed, too. They’re not taking this seriously.”

On Friday, news outlets reported that testing in an Iceland lab suggested that 50% of people with coronavirus had no symptoms. It had randomly tested nearly 5% of its population who volunteered. Fewer than 1% of the tests came back positive, but among those, half were asymptomatic.

This captain wanted all yacht crew still employed to not only be grateful for that but to abide by the social distancing rules so the spread of the virus will slow down faster.

“A lot of crew members have been laid off,” he said. “I remind my crew that in 80% of America right now, you’d be unemployed and sitting at home. So it frustrates me to see crew acting like the rules don’t apply to them. It [social distancing] doesn’t work unless we’re all doing it.”

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Do you think yacht crew are taking the pandemic seriously? What do you see on the docks near where you are? Please share your thoughts below.

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About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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