Samaná (again)

15th March 2019 to who-the-hell-knows

After moving around from the marina, Charlotte was kept in the navy office while they tried to decide if she needed to do any paperwork or not. This discussion took around half an hour, after which they decided she hadn’t needed to visit in the first place. Then, BIG shop – we’re going to fill up on non-perishable food and be a bit more self-sufficient again, ready for the harsher measures that will doubtless come here soon as they have elsewhere. Given the good local food supplies here, and the excellent fruit/veg market, we’re in a good spot for this crisis.

For a while?

Well, the UK FCO advice to avoid travel to all countries, combined with IMG (our medical insurer) deciding that they will not cover you for COVID if you travel into a country that your government advises against travel to, has placed us in a bit of a quandary. Basically, if we leave the Dominican Republic, we won’t be insured against COVID. If we remain in the Dominican Republic through the Summer, we won’t be insured against hurricanes.

Looking at the latest data on COVID, I don’t know if that’s a concern or not to be honest. Given half of cases are asymptomatic and the figures from the Imperial paper, even if all five of us catch it the chances of needing critical care are 0.2% or so; and of fairly-necessary medical involvement c. 3.4%. Add in some early indications that >20C reduces transmission and we might just be very careful with hygiene and exactly where we go, dose up our immune systems and chance it without COVID insurance. Not exactly likely to contract it if we stock up then cruise the uninhabited islands of Belize for a month at a time, are we? But certainly not for a little while – I’d want firmer data to make that call, and Charlotte would want EVEN firmer data.

On the other hand, the boat is not covered for tropical storm / hurricane damage, or the damage it causes other boats if it drags. Assuming we can get around to Luperon the chances of that are low, it’s one of the best hurricane holes in the world, but they’re probably around 2% rather than the 0.2% way up in the Rio Dulce. And even right where we are we are sheltered from the wind directions that would be most likely to occur, looking at past hurricane tracks, so wave-action would be relatively manageable. So, while the winds might cause damage, I’m pretty sure the anchor would hold in anything short of a major hurricane. But that’s just financial damage – if a big storm was forecast, we’d be onshore in some hotel’s underground hideout, and leave the boat to our three anchors, all our chain and rope, and fate.

So, we’ll probably end up basing what we do on our health and local political/security/social situations, rather than whether we have insurance. But we’ll chill here for a bit while things unfold around us and make our decisions later on.

Or to the end of time?

And then… the DR followed many places in instituting a ban on movement (which here includes movement between ports) and just about all of the borders across the Caribbean closed. So, we are very glad we stayed somewhere we like and feel comfortable.

People here are treating the quarantine like it should be treated, from what we can tell. The normally crowded town is deserted, beaches that are normally a hive of activity have the odd person on (normally fishing – there’s a lot more fishing going on since the tourist industry closed down), and from 5pm there’s rarely a sound. Apart from when people go out fishing then get towed back in by the Armada (Navy).

We had our hull cleaned, for about a quarter of the price we paid in St Lucia – and Diego did a better job than the guy in St Lucia, too. Spotless. It wasn’t exactly necessary but saves us some time and puts some of our cash straight into the local economy so we’re happy enough. Likewise, picked up a snook for the equivalent of about US$10 which was big enough to last us three generous meals (fish and chips, thai curry, soup).

We’re trying to stock up and get through the boat jobs so that we would be ready for a long passage (e.g. to Panama) prior to hurricane season – mostly to keep our options open.

We’ll add photos here, and write a proper post on what we’re thinking, at some point. In the meantime, Dave is working, the kids are playing, and Charlotte is shopping.