Sailing with Charlie: Cruising in the Time of Covid

With the catastrophe of the modern plague and escalation of more and more rules, regulations, and restrictions, it’s time to look seriously at the cruising alternative. Although vaccinated persons throughout the population are increasing, so are variants and the likelihood of vaccine resistant strains is a distinct possibility. Once upon a time a life-threatening event caused the world to take drastic action – ask Noah.

Cruising (on a boat, not a cruise ship) is a lifestyle that enables you to be independent – providing you have sufficient supplies and spares – for months at a time. And what is more important than independence in the time of Covid? It’s ideal during normal times but even more so during a pandemic. The cruiser, in an area of thousands of islands like the Caribbean, can choose from many beautiful, protected anchorages and support his lifestyle by living off the sea. 

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Charlie has always been of the opinion that seafaring gypsies will never go hungry as long as they keep their wits about them. Snorkeling and freediving along coasts and over reefs will yield all kinds of edible proteins, both healthy and easily harvested. A speargun or Hawaiian sling is essential and fish are plentiful. (The BVI has speargun restrictions for visitors). Caribbean lobsters are easy prey as are conch and whelks. The white sea urchins yield a yellow row inside the shells but you need many bucketfuls to provide a meal. A couple of small fish traps may well produce more than you can eat.

Editor’s Note: You might also check out Five Beaches for Practicing Social Distancing

Turtle grass is a succulent that grows close to the water’s edge and can be used sparingly mixed into rice (It’s very salty). Hearts of palm (coconut) make delicious salads. Young palms are needed, slice them open and chop them into bite sized pieces. Beware though, yachties can get a bad name for pilfering fruits and vegetables, so leave a clean wake. Seaweed is overlooked as a food source so do a bit of research. Some varieties are rich in nutrients and can be found in Caribbean waters. 

Coconuts are probably the most diverse and useful fruit in the tropics. This ubiquitous fruit provides oil, vinegar, milk, cream, sugar and protein. Non edible products that the coconut tree produces include lotions, mats, protective covering for heads, roofs, palapas – the list goes on.  Anchor off a coconut grove and you won’t go wrong.

The modern plague of Covid and its derivatives has affected and will affect everyone for many years to come. It impacts our social life, our movements, our jobs, family life and well-being. One thing it can’t change, at least in the immediate future, is the wind. So, sailors can bless the tradewinds, hoist the anchor and head for greener pastures when the time is right. 

In the end it may be up to Neptune’s children to provide the world with the beginnings of a new race. And if you think this is the stuff of sci-fi movies – well, perhaps it is. But it’s certainly not too far-fetched. There’s a lot to be said for the cruising lifestyle. In the UK they had a ‘freedom day’ in July – they must have been dreaming!

Julian_Putley
Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.