Pocket Superyacht Blog

Lockdown hasn’t been boring for Invisible Crew

While I was confronted with my two very energetic kids being pulled out of school and into my home office, the workload didn’t exactly diminish.

Many people died of boredom during lockdown. I had to deal with the saga of one my client’s yachts that was on route for the Virgin Islands. There, we arranged for a cargo ship to pick the yacht up and take her to Palma. They left, just days before countries started shutting down and arrived in a very different world!

But in the mean time, I was contacted by the owners of the CNB76 Malaika. They have a very exciting itinerary. On day one of the lockdown, the yacht was in the Galapagos. The US East Coast, but also arctic destinations, are next on the calendar. They were in search of a couple -Captain and First Mate- with a very specific profile. In fact, it was so specific that, when I presented the first couple which pretty much answered to all the criteria, they were offered the position. Malaika is now the 4th CNB76 that we are crewing.

For Aenea, another CNB76, we have been plotting out several IF-THEN Covid19 scenarios while finishing an extensive maintenance period.

Another client has decided not to take his yacht out of winter modus. She is kept like a jewel in a box under a wrapped scaffold. This meant negotiating acceptable new conditions for the captain, together with a new job description.

For two other yachts we’ve been searching for a Stewardess / Cook. The tricky part was deciding on the starting date. Slowly programs and itineraries are becoming more clear… But we’re still bearing all possible scenarios in mind.

In the mean time the Lagoon 620 “Plan B” was on its way from Panama to the British Virgin Islands. Pretty soon it was apparent that the crew would probably have to go into a 2 week quarantine upon arrival. Halfway through the journey, the British Virgin Islands shut their borders all together. The shipping company was therefore forced to change the loading port to the United States Virgin Islands. If anything, this shortened the trip a little bit. However, none of the crew held visas for the US. Upon arrival they were denied access to the country! With all other surrounding islands shut down and low on provisioning, the yacht and crew were stranded. Additionally the cargo ship was waiting there to perform the costly transport.

It took about 60 hours of ongoing communications with embassies in the US, a consul located on St Thomas, the crew, the load master and the shipping agent, but we finally had result! Upon presentation of an outward-bound flight ticket -one of the few left- the crew were granted access. The yacht was loaded on the ship and the crew flew to their home countries.
By the time the cargo ship arrived in Palma, lockdown / quarantine rules were still firmly in place. The captain was, as expected, stuck in his home country, the UK. We’ve had to organise several permits for a local crew member and myself to be able to drive to the commercial port and also to navigate across the port of Palma.

A week later, easing restrictions allowed the captain -with the required paperwork- to travel to Palma and go back on board. He could now continue the ongoing maintenance while, like so many colleagues, trying to figure out a plan for the summer.