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“Refugee” blue water cruisers turned away from port amid Covid-19 restrictions

Blue water cruisers have been barred from entering some foreign ports amid Covid-19 restrictions.

One sailor was met with a cocked rifle, while another described the situation as a ghastly game of musical chairs, with boats scrabbling to find a port where they could tie up and provision.

At best new arrivals are being told to anchor in quarantine for 14 days before being allowed entry.

From east Africa, British sailors Terry and Mike, who are on a world cruise, reported to Sailing Today: “On trying to enter Djibouti the navy demanded we leave and go back to India [across the Indian Ocean]. We said we have insufficient supplies. They pulled out an AK47 and cocked it. Mike said ‘you may as well shoot me’. The official lowered his gun.

“We cannot go ashore and cannot get supplies. We hope the French military will assist us today with supplies. Yachts are all helping each other, even more than normal.

“We hope to be able to head to Ghalib as a safe marina for weather. At this stage they will let us in.”

Certain ports are still receiving yachts on the basis of a 14-day quarantine but others appear to have simply shut up shop to leisure boaters.

Some harbours in China are now opening as restrictions there lessen.

There is a clear right of a foreign ship to anchor in coastal waters should it find itself in distress, as referred to in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Where safety of life is involved, the provisions of the SAR Convention should be followed. The right to stop and anchor does not, however, amount to a right to enter the internal waters or ports of a coastal state.

The RYA’s advice is as follows: “Within the wider cruising community there are reports of boats being turned away from their chosen destination on arrival, therefore the advice is if you are safely moored and are allowed to stay, then it is advisable to do so.”

Jess Lloyd Mostyn, author of Sailing Today’s regular Blue Note column, who lives aboard her yacht, currently based in the Komodo Islands in Indonesia, said: “The timing of when this became real was pivotal as it was just at the moment that most boats start making the leap across the Pacific.

“Many left when this was just a distant murmur and then found themselves arriving in French Polynesia in the position of refugees.

“Someone in one of the sailing forums described the position as that of a truly horrible game of musical chairs, and so many boats were caught out scrambling for a place when the music stopped.”

The post “Refugee” blue water cruisers turned away from port amid Covid-19 restrictions appeared first on Sailing Today.

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