Corona, Chaos, Clouds
Thank you very much for your suggestions on my naming dilemma. Many have suggested their own names and I appreciate that. Interestingly, there was no nickname at all, as I don’t want to change my passport :-). So the search continues.
As I write this, we are on mooring on the “Iles des Saintes” in Guadeloupe and are being circled by pelicans. It’s grey, very windy and very wavy – and it’s raining right now. For two weeks, the wind has rarely blown below 6 Beaufort, it is cloudy, cold (relatively), it rains far too often and the swell is sometimes impressing. However I will explain later why we are still in Guadeloupe.
The first morning at the mooring we had another power failure. As we are 5-6 hours behind Leopard France and Leopard Cape Town, the boys were awake. As much as our electrical problem upsets us, I can praise Leopard’s service. The electrician in Cape Town checked our systems by remote diagnosis and now believes to have found the cause in a defective control element. Now only Stephane, the electrician from Point-a-Pitre, has to come back from Corsica and then everything can finally be repaired. Thats what we hope for.
1.Goat in a house 2. kids playing in Les Saintes 3. Village beach 4. Holger on tender
Diving 90 feet
Time in a marina not only makes you sluggish, it is also not good for the vessel. Our ship’s hull looked terrible. A paradise for mussels, algae and what I know of life forms. Ka and I packed our scuba tanks on our backs and went underwater scrubbing for an hour. That’s when the full force of our decision to go catamaran hit us. The 2*45 foot hull area is now 90 feet of scrub area. Almost twice the area of our ex-50 Hanse.
If diving is really supposed to burn 600 calories per hour, then scrubbing will certainly take us into four figures. We were so done afterwards.
But why are we still in Guadeloupe? Two reasons: the electrician (see above) and Corona. In addition, we have bad weather.
The attraction of the Eastern Caribbean islands is usually that from Grenada in the south to St. Martin in the north, every island is within a day’s distance. The Virigin Islands, at 80 nm, are a little further and a worthwhile night cruise.
This year, the islands are much further apart and the way from A to B sometimes leads via D. I have already mentioned that there are two “bubbles” in the Caribbean. A French bubble and a Caribbean bubble. The Caribbean bubble includes Barbados, St. Lucia, the Grenadines, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Monserat, St. Kitts & Nevis and the British Virgin Islands. Theoretically. In the French are – or used to be – Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin (F) and St. Barth. Why no one has come up with the clever idea of one bubble, I have not yet found out.
Supposedly, travelling within these bubbles is uncomplicated. Unfortunately, some of these islands do not know that they are part of this bubble. The British Virgin Islands (BVI) are still completely closed, Montserrat too and Dominica has recently changed its mind. However, the reality is that a PCR test and often quarantine await even if you are sailing inside a bubble. The cost of a PCR test in the Caribbean bubble is between $100 and $290 for each nose.
We are in the French bubble and even had a free test in Martinique. It was recognised in Guadeloupe – not that anyone asked for it. Theoretically, we could have sailed to St Martin (French side) and St Barth. But then the rules were changed. Now, if you want to sail from one French island to another, you need an important reason (raison impérieuse). Otherwise the islands remain closed. If we leave Guadeloupe, it gets complicated. Once out, we would have to give an important reason for re-entry, do a PCR test and be in quarantine for about 5 days. That’s why we wait in Guadeloupe until our electrics are in shape.
Antigua? Saint Martin? Sint Maarten?
When we sail to the neighbouring island of Antigua, barely 50 nm away, things get exciting. The entry regulations state that you have to follow the guidelines of the Health Authority. But these are apparently secret. What is known is that you need a current PCR test from the last island and then another one in Antigua for 200 USD per person. Ultimately, the health authorities in Antigua decide how things will work and how long you have to stay in quarantine on your ship. 14 days is supposed to be the maximum time you are not allowed to go ashore.
Antigua is a beautiful island with 365 beaches, but is the quarantine period worth it? Closed bars, restaurants and curfew included? In the Caribbean domino game of 2021, it may make sense. With a pre-visit to Antigua, it is easier to enter the island of Sint Maartin (NL), which is the next island over. And that’s where we actually wanted to pick up our daughter and two grandkids during the Easter holidays. If they are allowed to travel.
So St. Martin or Sint Maarten. The two names for one island say it all: one half is French, the other Dutch. And you guessed it: the French part is in the French bubble, the other part is not. Although you don’t even notice when you cross the border. Confusingly, the common airport is on the Dutch side.
At the moment, entry into French St. Martin is only possible with an important reason, otherwise you stay outside. Officially, St. Martin (F) is closed. The rules in Sint Maarten are of course completely different. If you come from a low-risk country, entry is easier. Antigua, for example, is a low-risk island for Sint Maarten. To complicate matters further, each island has its own list of high- and low-risk countries. Not surprisingly, these differ from each other. So Antigua is a high-risk country for Germany, but a low-risk country for Sint Maarten.
And then there is the matter of nationality. EU citizens have always had it easier on the EU islands, French citizens have had advantages on the French islands and for US or non-EU citizens everything is more difficult.
But back to St. Martin. 82,000 people live on 87 km2. That is one-thirtieth of the area of Luxembourg. The two parts of the country are fluently connected. You don’t even notice when you change countries. Clearly, such different rules make a lot of sense there. But I guess that logic is also under quarantine during this time. The number of cases is very low on almost all Caribbean islands. It has been much safer here for months than in Europe. So why all the fuss?
We fear that the chaos will remain with us for the time being. But it would be a great pleasure for us if the kids were finally allowed to visit us. /Holger Binz