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Letters: SV Kestrel in Antigua
COVID-19 and the Caribbean
April 10, 2020

We cruise full time and are currently in Antigua. Although our boat is our home, Oriental is our home port, and we read with sadness about Mark Laser’s passing.

Every island in the eastern Caribbean has closed its borders, some even to their own nationals abroad. There are no airline flights off of the islands. Most islands have curtailed cruisers’ movements between ports or anchorages. There are significant social restrictions in place, but cruisers are uniquely positioned to self-isolate and live off of stored provisions.

The feeling in Antigua at least is positive but cautious. The Caribbean islands are still reeling from recent hurricane damage and do not have the kind of healthcare facilities needed to deal with COVID 19. Virtually everyone takes the social distancing rules seriously.

Hurricane season is approaching, and many cruisers have opted to return to their home countries since they cannot move south to safer waters. The Europeans are heading east across the Atlantic, and the Canadians and Americans are heading north. The Salty Dawg Sailing Association has organized a Homeward Bound Flotilla from the eastern Caribbean to various US ports, and boats will start leaving within the next couple of weeks.

Many of the participants will be going straight from Antigua or the USVI to Beaufort, NC, and there’s a good chance they will pass through Oriental. Many of them will have made the 1200 mile passage short-handed or for the first time. They will be tired and will appreciate a kind word or helping hand.

We’ve always been proud when people from all over the world see the home port on our transom and rave about Oriental. We have no doubt that the people of Oriental will continue to live up to their reputation.

To our friends in Oriental: we are safe and self-isolating. Some of us in the eastern Caribbean are trying to stick it out. We plan to continue our journey south and then west when possible as Panama has now reopened transits through the Canal.

Thank you,

Beth Whitney and Clarence Mayo
s/v Kestrel

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