This is the story of our friend who happened to be in the Caribbean region as the borders are shut down due to the COVID-19 threat.
On March 5 I boarded a small 40 foot sailing boat in Trinidad, South Caribbean, to sail about 3 weeks up to Antigua, North Caribbean. My friends and I had planned this trip for a long time.
The sailing was fantastic with good weather, winds and beautiful scenery. Every 3 days we entered into a new small island country and went through a usually quite relaxed immigration procedure in the yacht harbor.
While on the boat we found out that the world was closing the borders one by one and we started to be concerned if the small Caribbean islands would do the same.
On March 18, we arrived St Lucia in the middle of Caribbean at night and dropped anchor off shore. In the morning 8 am, we took the dinghy to the harbor, took a coffee in the harbor restaurant and waited for immigration to open as we usually did. We casually told the waitress in the coffee shop we just arrived. She told her manager who called the immigration office (that had not even opened) and suddenly we were surrounded by guards and immigration officers who told us we had to leave immediately as the island country had closed last night. Then, we were rather rudely escorted back to our sailing boat. From relaxed welcome to fearing visitors overnight.
Most islands announced the closed borders. Trinidad where the boat is based said no foreigners were allowed in so I could not go back there. Perhaps we should become a ”flying Dutchman” stuck in limbo on the ocean that never can make port.
We sailed back south one long day and night to island country St Vincent which was our last port of call. The sailing was great with beautiful scenery from the high Islands shaped by volcanoes. We were joined by 6 dolphins for one hour along the sailing. Beautiful.
We were concerned St Vincent would not let us in but they accepted that we never entered another country officially. I left the sailing boat on a small island while the boat continued to Trinidad as the crew had residence permit in Trinidad which I did not. Upon arriving today, the crew were put into 2 week quarantine on Trinidad.
The island I ended up on, Bequia is a small 10 km long beautiful island normally full with tourists and sailing yachts. Due to travel ban, island was quite empty. Found a fantastic small hotel on a hillside where I am the only guest. Now I am trying to find a way to travel home but in no rush as not that bad to be stuck on a beautiful island a while.