Monthly Archives: April 2021

Permission to board? Have you been vaccinated?

Brenda and I are now fully vaccinated and our boys, will soon be as well.  With the summer cruising season up0n us, thoughts turn to staying safe on the water and how one’s “status” will play out when it comes to socializing.

A big part of the cruising lifestyle is spending time together aboard and the ubiquitous “sundowners” at the end of the day with friends.  Sure, most of the time these encounters are outdoors in the cockpit but behind the dodger on Pandora, you might as well be indoors.   With the pandemic still in full swing, especially for those who have not been vaccinated, we will have to decide how we will handle the inevitable question of “have you been vaccinated?” when it comes to having someone come aboard.

Over the years we have hosted countless gatherings without thinking about anyone’s health but now?

For seven years I co-organized an event for cruisers at our local club.  Imagine that now?Jammed under Pandora’s hard dodger these days?  Not so sure about that.The arrival events in Antigua, sans mask?Or, a tot with my favorite club in Antigua, the Antigua and Barbuda Royal Tot Club.  Mask less?  Perhaps after a few stiff tots.  Life used to be so simple.A full house down below?  Perish the thought of sharing both food and viral particles…Even worse, how about Carnival?  Nope, can’t even imagine. I read in the NY Times today that there is a tendency for those who have been vaccinated to have an irrational fear of infection.  Presumably safe or not, they don’t want to even want to be around those who haven’t been vaccinated.  I can relate to that, especially because of the variants that have cropped up and threaten to bypass the work of the current vaccines.

In the EU there is talk about a “vaccine passport” in order to be admitted into the country or to events that will be crowded.  Imagine that in the “US of A, the land where “I can do what I want, when I want.”  Not likely…

To make matters worse, worldwide, the vaccination process is probably years from completion and recently there have been a record number of infections identified every day.   And with more infections there is a  greater likelihood that the virus will mutate in a way that will make it more infectious and more deadly.  Actually, that’s already happened and the “variants” are now the standard here in the US.   Normally, over time, viruses are expected to become less dangerous but COVID-19 seems to be bucking that trend which does not bode well for getting things under control anytime soon.

So, back to my question of the vaccinated spending time with the not-vaccinated.   I am a port officer for Essex for a number of sailing groups, including the Ocean Cruising Club and in an email exchange between other port officers over the weekend, the topic came up of what to do about this issue.

The universal reaction from those that commented was that they would ask about vaccination status and not invite anyone aboard who wasn’t up to date on their shots.  Awkward?  YOU BET!

“Permission to come aboard?”  “Have you been vaccinated?  Nope?  Permission denied.  Next…”

I’ll admit that I am firmly in the “permission denied” camp, partly out of fear but also because I have a problem with those who do not have what I expect of everyone and that is a “strong sense of community responsibility”

The politization of pandemic safety and COVID denial here in the US still annoys me and the idea that “refusenik” minority will somehow set policy for the majority, just pisses me off.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of being in a situation where I have to ask the question of anyone that wants to visit about their vaccination status is not appealing, but I suppose that is what will have to be the norm for now.

One possible solution suggested by a fellow port officer was to fly a “V” or victor signal flag.

That’s a pretty appealing option but the actual meaning of the Victor flag is “I require assistance”, which is quite ironic, under the circumstances.

Another suggested a club flag “I’ve been vaccinated” as an option and a way for the club’s ships’ store to make some money.

So, want to board Pandora for a sundowner this summer?  That would be great.  No wait, have you been vaccinated?

Yes you say!  Permission to board.

How about a rum punch while we enjoy the sunset together?And in case you are wondering “what do you think about all this Bob?”.   Well, that’s what I really think.

Coaxing your reluctant partner aboard.

There are plenty of cruising couples where both are equally enthusiastic about spending extended time aboard.  If you are one of these lucky ones, good for you.

However, often and perhaps more often that not, one member is enthusiastic and the other, well, not so much.

Our boys, Rob and Chris, now adults, and witness to Brenda’s and my cruising together, like to say that my efforts to coax her aboard are best described as “40 years of Dad’s desperate moves trying to make Mom like sailing”.  I suppose that is a true statement but so far, it’s gone fairly well as we have been sailing together since the late 70s, well over 40 years now, logging more than 1,500 nights aboard together and months at a time since I retired in 2012.

I won’t say that I have been fully successful in my goal as there continues to be a big difference between the amount of time I want to spend aboard and what she’d prefer to do.

However, so far, so good but the quest continues.

Over the years I have observed that among cruising “wanabees”, more often than not, one partner is generally more enthusiastic than the other.  I’ll go further out on a limb to say that it’s the guys that are inclined to be more enthusiastic.  Ok, sure, there are plenty of the fairer sex that love to be aboard but the are mostly all called for and for us “mere mortal guys” it’s up to us to work hard to coax the reluctant partner aboard.

For the last few months, I have been involved in a series of weekly Zoom meetings with a half dozen couples to talk about the cruising lifestyle and most of them fit the pattern that I have laid out.

That’s not to say that this reluctance is insurmountable but it’s has been my experience, and I understand among many others, that to head out and spend months at a time aboard together, often takes some convincing.

Our Zoom discussions were wide ranging and over the months I kept track of what I was hearing and tried to distill those thoughts into a talk presented recently to a group of cruisers, as part of the Salty Dawg Sailing Association webinar series.

With this talk, about a half hour long, I try to get at the heart of some of the issues that cruising couples face where one partner isn’t as enthusiastic about spending extended time aboard.  Brenda’s and my cruising has taken us from Maine to the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Cuba and most recently the Lesser Antilles, in the eastern Caribbean where we plan to head again next winter.

I’d be interested in what you think.