Update on Covid-19 Response by the OCC

Update on Covid-19 Response by the OCC

The OCC network has truly stepped up to assist our members and others in need around the world. What a wonderful cohesive family we have!

By Daria Blackwell - 24/03/2020

As of this morning, the number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections has topped 425,000 in 195 countries. This global pandemic has reached far and wide and disrupted the lives of millions. As some countries closed their borders and others evicted non-residents, it became clear that the cruising way of life was coming to a temporary standstill.

Because port restrictions were changing on a daily basis, the OCC reached out to our Regional and Roving Rear Commodores as well as our Port Officers (POs) and Port Officer Representatives (PORs) to send in new information via the OCC Facebook page and also to Noonsite, with whom we were coordinating efforts. It made sense to support a single source of verifiable information rather than splitting our resources. Sue Richards, editor of Noonsite, has been doing a stellar job in trying to keep up with the news that comes in faster than anyone can type for the first time in living memory.

As our members reported being stranded, asked to leave, or quarantined, it became clear that the OCC alone would have little effect in intervening on a broad scale. Instead, we turned to World Sailing, the global body representing all aspects of sailing. They were instrumental in helping to address the piracy issues at their height, and they have the contacts and resources to lobby governments on a wide scale. They responded to a letter sent by Commodore Simon Currin as follows:

"Dear Simon

I have received your letter regarding the Ocean Cruising Club concerns around the Coronavirus pandemic.

We have forwarded your letter to both the World Sailing Medical Commission and the World Sailing International Regulations Committee and they are working on some guidance that should be helpful for you and your members.

Clearly the situation is changing on a daily basis and different regions of the world are tackling the pandemic in different ways. The general advice from our Medical Commission has been: to stay close to, or in, a quiet port, avoid ports with cruise liners, airports, tourist traffic, large hotels. All these represent lots of contact risk. And stay where you are once you are safe. This will go on for six months or more.

I will send you some specific guidance as soon as I can.

Best regards

Alastair"


Shortly afterwards, we received a plea for assistance from the German TransOcean club, whose members were facing similar issues around the world. We forwarded that letter on to World Sailing as well.

Thankfully, blue water sailors are uniquely qualified to deal with long periods of isolation while underway crossing oceans and provisioning for distance sailing. We will be eternally grateful to our POs/PORs who have stepped up around the world to intervene on behalf of our members and the cruising community at large. Some have even arranged for temporary anchorage and have stepped in to do provisioning and supplying fuel and water to the anchorage. We have a truly remarkable family on which to rely. Thank you!

It wasn't that long ago that being in quarantine truly meant isolation. The relevance of the Q flag in today's world is once again acute. Most countries on the popular cruising routes have now closed to visiting yachts in reaction to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Finding a country for safe haven is becoming much harder every day and the best advice is to stay where you are if you can. Countries are either closing their borders or enforcing a 14-day quarantine on arrival, at anchor, with no option of going ashore. Some countries have now limited work to essential services only, thereby resulting in the closure of marinas and support businesses.

This pandemic is likely to take many weeks to subside. The best thing to do right now is to heed the advice of the WHO - stay put, wash your hands, cough into tissues and discard, stay away from other people, self-isolate if you feel ill. We can all get through this together.

To your health!


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