Offshore Sailing, COVID-19 Style

Predicting stuff is hard. The only thing that I am sure of is that the world will never return to ‘normal.
Predictions Fatty Style

I predict that, in both the near future and the distant future, that I will make predictions that are completely worthless. Even better—I’m not going to allow that to stop me. I will gallantly stumble on, despite all logic and commonsense. 

Hey, if fools can’t rush in where wise men fear to tread—who can? 

Prediction #1: Global tourism will be forever changed; global cruising will be changed to an even greater extent. 

Prediction #2: While any change was already tending to raise cruising costs—COVID-19 will exponentially increase the cost of circumnavigating in ways we have no inkling of. 

In some ways, this is overdue. While I am a relatively poor American, I am relatively wealthy in comparison to your average citizen of India. Thus, it made no sense that I should be able to clear into India unannounced for twenty dollars—while it would cost them over $2000 and nearly a year to clear into America. 

Thus, if fees get more ‘just’ for citizens of the world—that is primarily bad news for most Westerners. 

Prediction #3: Many small islands in, say, Indonesia will have their population wiped out or decimated to miniscule levels. 

Prediction #4: The safest countries for cruising sailors to visit—will be almost impossible to visit. I’m currently anchored down in Singapore. It has carefully watched America’s response to COVID-19 and measured it scientifically against its own response—and it wants little or nothing to do with such colossal social ignorance. 

Prior to COVID-19, Singapore’s passport was widely regarded as the most desirable in the world—and this will continue. No surprise there. What will come as a shock, is how quickly the passports of once respected countries will lose their cache. Example: the Bahamas desperately wants foreign yachts to help its economy—well, except for American yachts. 

Prediction #5: Countries will gradually become known as science-based or ignorance-based. 

Prediction #6: Countries that base their public policy on ancient superstitions will fade when the global penalty for ignorance is death. 

Care for a Fat Prediction?

Prediction #7: Civilizations that value cooperation and compassion over greed will flourish in comparison. 

Prediction #8: Your health status might become like a mini-caste system, exploited benignly by some groups and evilly by others. 

Prediction #9: Solo traveling will increase; large groups of densely packed shutterbugs will decline. 

Prediction #10: Destinations with good medical facilities will be preferred. 

Prediction #11: Natural, plain-air destinations without crowds will be preferred. Think ‘ethical wildlife’ tourism. 

What does all this have to do with boats? Good question. 

Prediction #11: Boats with longer legs (that can sail greater distances with ease) will become more popular. 

Prediction #12: Cruisers like me that have never purchased a watermaker will wait in line for them. To put it another way, no one’s gonna want to ‘duck into Fiji to top off the tanks’ if it costs $1,000 and requires a 14-day quarantine. 

Prediction #13: More islands will require vessels to be forced into ghettos known as marina resorts in which yachties are penned cheek-to-jowl in airless bowls of overheated water.

Prediction #14: Unofficial ‘offshore providers’ will illegally sell provisions to passing vessels—for a hefty price. 

Prediction #15: Failure to clear-in will go from a minor offense to a major one. After all, it was mostly a clerical matter for before, now it is a life and death one. 

Prediction #16: AIS will be, for all practical purposes, mandatory world-wide—which will both benefit the host country and any pirates within their waters. 

Prediction #17: Pre-notice of arrival will be mandatory.

Prediction #18: Passports will indicate whether a traveler is vaccinated—how and by whom. All vaccinations won’t be created equal. There will be the haves and have-nots. And lots of folks with dollar signs in their eyes will be offering advice on how to bridge the gap. 

Prediction #19: Satellite phones will become nearly universal on boats that circumnavigate—otherwise they won’t be able to abide by #17, etc. 

Prediction #20: Increasingly, insurance and credit cards will be used to regulate cruising. 

Prediction #21: Certifiable health and death insurance for humans will be required—and perhaps for their pets as well. 

Prediction #22: While many countries will decide that cruising vessels are just too complicated to deal with—others will take the opposite approach—that billionaires, at least, are welcome. You’ll have to hand over your bank book along with your passport to clear in. 

Prediction #23: Just as RV sales are up, coastal cruising and staycations might increase in popularity—folks want a new horizon, but not necessarily a distant one. 

Prediction #24: Cashless spending will increase, particularly contactless transactions which are germ-free. 

Prediction #25: Restaurants will evolve quickly—with more open-air dining and spacious dining rooms. Yes, this will dramatically increase costs—but at the same time make the stock of food delivery businesses like Grab and Uber Eats skyrocket. In restaurants, think about non-sharing, individual silverware not common serving spoons, and less chance for cross-contamination. There will be a focus on hygiene at every level. Don’t think ‘clear my table,’ think sanitize my table, my toilet, your elevator button.

Prediction #26: Airlines will never be the same. Ditto, the diving industry which requires intimate devices such as regulators and masks that are reused. 

Prediction #27: The air filtration industries will blossom. 

Prediction #28: Public singing is out. If you sing in an elevator, you could end up dead. 

Prediction #29: Once bars are seen as a germ-distribution-service, their locations will adapt with social distancing, breathing shields, and spit blockers. 

Prediction #30: There will be less mega-concerts, more charged for individual live-streaming. 

Prediction #31: There will be less physical travel, more mental transport. Let’s face it—mass tourism is destructive. 

Prediction #32: Well-heeled travelers won’t just be looking for a destination but a sanctuary as well. 

Prediction #33: Since travel will be harder, cost more, and take more time, your vacation needs will be two-fold—one, to go somewhere, but, two, you’ll want to do something worthwhile while you’re there. Helping out and not doing environmental damage will both increase in importance. 

Prediction #34: Big, small, or portable sterilization units will abound in unexpected places like jewelry stores, rock climbing establishments, etc. 

Predicting stuff is hard. The only thing that I am sure of is that the world will never return to ‘normal.’ It is changed forever. And it behooves us all to remember Darwin’s sage advice, that ‘intelligence isn’t nearly as important as adaptability’ when it comes to survival.

Cap’n Fatty Goodlander has lived aboard for 53 of his 60 years, and has circumnavigated twice. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com