Present situation, sailing real possibilities and useful tips

A sailing boat has always been synonym with freedom. Every time we raise anchor or cast off the moorings we cut off the last physical bond with the mainland and step into an exciting dimension of total freedom. Or at least this is the perception as we are well aware we have to know and always act upon the rights and duties in force. Sailing around the world – in our opinion – offers wide margins of autonomy compared with other travel opportunities. It had always been like this! The boat set up, the course charted, the laws of sea and navigation followed, we just had to leave. Nothing prevented us from heading towards a wished destination, until 2020 when Covid-19 and the pandemic changed everything and affected our daily life and, obviously, also the nautical sector.

But how pandemic impacted on boats at sea?

After a total standstill, the states at first closed the maritime borders. Then followed more or less restrictive lockdowns and the application of general rules such as the mandatory use of masks, social distancing and gathering prohibition. Pleasure boats weren’t allowed to sail or sometimes even change anchorage. Access to beaches was restricted and even the allowed swimming distance from your boat was subjected to rules. Actually, crews underwent different lockdown restrictions depending on the place where they were sailing at the time of the total lockdown. There were those who had to stay in port, or in a crowded or isolated anchorage and those who couldn’t sail back home as the country where they had left their boat had closed the borders. Yachtsmen had to face different situations, more or less difficult. The world seemed to stop for a moment, certainly due to a poor knowledge of the virus combined with the lack of an effective strategy to fight a too rapidly spreading pandemic. Luckily, as the months went by, safety measures were mitigated and better defined everywhere. The economic needs and an improved capacity to deal with the health situation allowed for a general reopening.

What is the situation like at present?

Some states have been keeping maritime borders closed, other have opened providing, at the same time, several and sometimes even fancy access protocols. Quarantine, i.e. a defined period of isolation of the crew on board, has always been considered an effective health measure for managing possible infectious outbreaks on board. However, as for Covid-19, this preventive measure has not been considered as sufficient and every country has ventured to elaborate access procedures, which are, by the way, in continuous development. This is why we aim at providing a general overview as any picture of the current situation in any state may within a few days no longer correspond to reality.

The most reasonable countries require a negative result of a Covid test (PCR or serological) taken in the last mooring port, a quarantine period spent in a defined anchorage area followed by a further Covid test negative result. Other countries require that the crew members stay in a marina or specific hotel during their quarantine, thus resulting in extra expenses born by yachtsmen. More and more countries are also requiring an access authorization to be granted before leaving. However, vaccination has considerably simplified access procedures for crew who have received a complete vaccination against Covid-19.

Sailors from all over the world can take a deep breath as now, a year later, the situation is certainly improving. Although improvements are slow and still not definitive, we try to be optimistic. But one thing is clear: at present sailors’ greatest concern is to be updated on the latest access procedures in force in the place of destination. The risk is that protocols may change while you are sailing long-distance and, according to the destination country, incur high or low fines or even risk immediate expulsion from the country.

In short, due to Covid-19 countries have been forced to review and reshape access to maritime borders and, consequently, sailors had to modify and reschedule their sailing plans. Some cancelled their cruises but many decided to face the new emerging complications and raised anchor even early on in the pandemic outburst. We think sailing around the world is still possible provided that you keep yourself updated on the latest access protocols in the places of destination.

But where to find what is worth knowing?

The best way to be regularly updated is to visit the official websites of the place of destination Maritime Affairs (in the section dedicated to maritime access protocols). Worldwide general news on pandemic can be found on, since always an important source of information. Stay tuned on the Clearance/Biosecurity section of the country of destination for the latest updates (remind that although the remarkable work constantly carried out the site news cannot be updated in real time).

Sailing worldwide is still an opportunity although, no doubt, extra formalities, additional costs as well as a good deal of patience must be taken into account. However, sailors of all over the world must not abandon hope as things are improving. But even if this should not be the case, think about the open sea, where you are totally free. The good news is that no access protocol is required to sail in the open sea, for the moment at least.

Fair wind!

Lara, Michele and Reva.

Lara Michele e Reva
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