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Cyclops Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Kristi Black reports from the Bahamas

by Kristi & Kevin Black 3 May 14:07 UTC
Bahamas © Kristi & Kevin Black

"A call to all cruisers: Whether you are anchored, moored, or docked in foreign lands, consider how you can serve the community that is now offering you sanctuary during this unprecedented time."

For those of us currently in the Bahamas, it seems as though we are a world away from all the chaos that has engulfed our own homeland. When the Coronavirus started spreading worldwide, it put many cruisers in quite a predicament. We know cruisers that are stuck in one foreign country, with their boat in another. We know cruisers that have been forced out of anchorages at dusk with no idea where to go. We've read about cruisers on an extended passage, turned away at their destination only to be sent right back out to sea with an unexpected 1,000 plus nautical miles to the next possible port, in the hopes that they wouldn't be turned away there. We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to be anchored in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas.

Before the world knew about the threat of the Coronavirus, we spent most of our days on land, exploring the area, dining at the local restaurants and getting to know the local community. The people of Rock Sound embraced us as part of their own without hesitation. Since the restrictions have been implemented, the local community has gone out of their way to ensure we can still get groceries and fuel, and the local farmers deliver fresh vegetables to us twice weekly if we need them. We are still able to dispose of our trash on land and get water from a spigot near the dock if needed. My husband, Kevin, is asthmatic; thus, the virus is of grave concern to us.

Knowing that entire states in the U.S. are not taking this pandemic seriously and how easy this virus is to contract; we feel safer in the Bahamas. Here, we don't have to worry about radical disbelievers ruthlessly and unapologetically exposing themselves to the virus, thus helping it spread. Since we are provisioned for several months and have the ability to make our own water, we have no issues self-isolating on our boat. We're not ready to go home. We're not ready to face the realities of this pandemic head-on.

On the 2nd of April, the local police issued each of us in the anchorage a "Remain in Place Order" that indicated we were no longer allowed to go on land except to pick up groceries or fuel that could be delivered to one of the nearby docks. The police were pleasant, even jovial. They told us, "We want you here. You are welcome to stay." With that, we breathed a sigh of relief; we didn't want to be here if they didn't want us to be here. It felt good to know that we were still welcome to stay.

Recently, I was reading an article about cruisers anchored in the Galapagos that pulled together a contribution amongst themselves to give to the local community. Like the Galapagos, tourism is the bread and butter of the Bahamas. Much of the Bahamian economy was already struggling after recent hurricanes wreaked havoc in many of the northern and central islands. This pandemic and the necessary restrictions on tourism will make it even worse. We figured if cruisers could pull together funds in the Galapagos, surely, we could help here as well.

I offered the suggestion of raising funds for the local community during our morning cruisers net on the VHF. We figured there were some local individuals and families that were now out of work due to the pandemic and may not be able to feed themselves or their families. The cruisers were all in agreement.

Shortly thereafter, we made contact with Mr. Gregory Knowles, the Island Administrator for the local area. We wanted to ensure the contribution would stay in Rock Sound and that the funds would go toward the people who needed it most. The following day, Kevin and I got in our dinghy and motored over to each of the boats in the anchorage who had indicated they would give a donation. We even stopped at a boat that had just arrived the day before, and after explaining to them what we were doing, they donated as well. All in all, out of nine boats, we pulled together an impressive $2,000.00 to give to the community.

On the morning of April 28th, we along with a few of our fellow cruisers had the pleasure of presenting the contribution to Mr Knowles. Wearing our face masks, we greeted one another with fist bumps and air hugs. Mr Knowles, as well as township members Michael Saunders and Philip Kemp, thanked us and assured us the money will be spent toward food packages that would be given to those within the community most in need. Underneath our masks, we were all beaming with joy.

As cruisers, we can get a pretty bad wrap from time to time. It only takes one careless boat or one crusty sailor who feels he or she doesn't need to play by the rules, to give all of us a bad reputation, to make us unwanted and unwelcome in foreign lands of paradise. Cruisers flock to the Bahamas year in and year out. We need the friendly faces of the locals and their dream-worthy islands as they offer an escape from the harsh realities of our day-to-day lives. But most of us have great respect and care about the people and the places we visit. Many of us try to find some way to help the local areas we visit, whether it be going to the local elementary schools and reading with the children, or even by virtue of dining at their local restaurants. We are now limited in the ways we can help, and now is when they need us the most. With businesses closed, many of these people are struggling to put food on the table for their families.

This is a call to all cruisers: Whether you are anchored, moored, or docked in foreign lands, consider how you can serve that community that is now offering you sanctuary during this unprecedented time.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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