Sailing From Grenda to St. Vincent During COVID 19
Feelin’ the Breeze, Yacht deliveries and Lifestyle Management
Sailing to St. Vincent and flying back to Grenada during COVID 19
SOLD! We are Chris & Chrystal from LTD Sailing School and Yacht Brokerage – “Living the Dream!” in Secret Harbor. Yacht brokering during a pandemic and travel restrictions changing daily, well, you have to get a little creative. When our SVG skipper couldn’t make the delivery of “Sirena” a 2015 Helia 44 to St. Vincent to meet her new crew, it was up to us to complete the job. Wanna go sailing?
We quickly figured out what we needed to do. It was Thursday when I called the General Hospital to find out about getting the PCR test. The PCR test is where they swab your nasal passage and it takes three days to get the results. The rapid test is where they take blood and you get the results in 20 minutes.
You don’t need an appointment, just show up between the hours of 8 AM – Noon. First thing Friday we went to the General Hospital. Parking is HORRIBLE! Be sure to fold in your side mirrors! Once parked, we set off to find the lab. To get there, go to the General Hospital compound and look for the building with the pop machine. It’s the only one I have EVER seen on the island! Take the stairs to the left and take the first right to the blood lab. Fill out the paperwork with Sunshine, the health nurse. Then, go to the cashier at the bottom of the stairs. Remember your mask and social distancing! The cost of the test is 450 ECD and you can pay with cash, local check or credit card. Take that to the accounting building right before you get to the main hospital entrance. The security guard will spray your hands and advise the nurse that you are ready for your test. She will call you into the back room and swap both nostrils and your throat. It’s uncomfortable but not painful. Well, not painful the same way the dentist says “You’ll only feel a little pressure” when he drills your teeth. The nurse was very sweet even when I jumped about a foot in the air. Are you reaching for my brain? They take your paperwork and promise the results within three business days. You have to go back to the lab to pick them up, they won’t email them to you. You can have someone else pick them up for you as long as they have your receipt. We had Izzy, our office manager, pick them up for us, scan them and send them to us electronically. Yes, they were ready in three business days! We took off sailing on Friday.
We took our time going up the islands as we made sure the boat was ready to sail up to the states. That, and we had to wait for the results. The only place you can currently check in to St. Vincent is Blue Lagoon. You can check out at Union Island but not check in. We emailed Katie at SVG Arrivals and got permission to anchor in Mayreau for the night – only if we left first thing in the morning. That got us closer to SVG to be able to make the time restrictions.
Here’s the deal:
You will need to notify St. Vincent that you are arriving by boat.
FIVE days before you arrive, you will need to send the Passenger Assessment Form to the Health Service Committee by email:
They are very responsive and helpful. Make sure you get a response from them before you continue.
At least 48 hours prior to arriving in St. Vincent, contact SVG Arrivals by email:
- Captain’s contact information
- Negative PCR results for all on board (or arrange for testing in SVG)
- Planned arrival date
- Completed Customs Form
- Updated travel history for all on board
On arrival into St. Vincent, contact Nichole on 001 784 433 9645 (wats app) then head into Young’s Cut from the South entrance. This is the Quarantine area:
- Plan to arrive between 0800 – 1800. Hail “Jimmy” on Ch. 68. He or his driver, Sparrow, will direct you to a quarantine mooring ball. Sparrow can be a little rough around the edges but he means well. We had a difference of opinion on how to adjust the mooring lines on our boat but you’ll have that with the big jobs. At some point, Jimmy will come to collect:
- Proof of boat ownership
- Boat registration document
- Original previous clearance papers
- Crew list
- Approx. 305 ECD in cash (205 agent fee, 35 Cruising Tax per person, other fees.)
- Place all the documents in a water proof bag/folder
*Link to St. Vincent Yachting fees
He’ll give this to the agent, Nichole, who will process your paperwork with customs & immigration. I know, it’s daunting to hand over all of those important documents to a complete stranger! But Jimmy is very professional and polite. FYI: Jimmy owns the mooring balls so you have to pay him separate for that – 50 ECD a night. He will also organize anything else you might need like groceries or garbage removal because you can’t get off the boat until you are cleared.
Despite being listed as a private vessel on the official forms, the government decided to list us a charter boat and charge 125 ECD for a charter license. The vessel was in the process of transferring ownership so we didn’t have “proof of ownership” for the new owner. We did have running papers but that didn’t matter in this case. Sometimes it is just better to pay the fees and say “Thank you for allowing us into your beautiful islands!” than argue about it. We also got charged overtime fees despite getting here by noon and handing over the paperwork. Apparently, the nurse was running late in her paperwork so ours didn’t get processed till 4:55 PM. We got all our paperwork back the next day. The time was not written on the customs paperwork – only on the overtime receipt which seemed strange. So again, just pay the fee and move on to the rum shack. All in all, we appreciate the ease in which we were able to enter the country.
The new crew flew in from the United States and did their PCR test in St. Vincent. They spent five days in quarantine at a government approved accommodation at Blue Lagoon. They got out on Thursday, so we were able to go to Customs and Immigration on Friday to do the crew change. There was no charge for this service. The Customs and Immigration officers were very friendly and professional. It took us about five minutes. The office is located just South of Blue Lagoon Marina next to Flowt Beach Bar. Dropping off a bag of garbage cost 11.60 ECD. They literally would not let me past the desk until I paid. I just wanted to get rid of the nasty stuff! Samuel from Samuel Taxi Service picked up our two bags of laundry and dropped it off the same day. Cost: 45 ECD a load. But he only charged me for a load and half AND gave me a receipt! Very nice man. You can contact him at 784-593-2188. FYI: A taxi ride from Blue Lagoon to the International Airport is 60 ECD. But always double check with the taxi driver before getting in the car and make sure you specify EC or USD. Having exact change is always best so walk with small bills.
We checked into Young Island Resort. Normally, we would never be able to afford this place, but they were offering a local discount that we couldn’t pass up! Chris lived in St. Vincent for five years and we actually started our sailing school in SVG. It was a nice treat to come back and stay at this quintessential Caribbean resort. We would just stare from afar and wonder what it would be like to stay there. It did not disappoint! Huge rooms, amazing views, and excellent customer service – from carrying our luggage from the dinghy dock to delivering breakfast in bed!
Bonus: the boats we needed to do live walk-throughs and video were on mooring balls just feet from the resort. For the next two days solid we WhatsUp’s with potential boat buyers for “Panthera” a 2010 Leopard 45 and “Bulot” a 2002 Fountaine Pajot Bahia 46. (So, when do we get to enjoy the resort?) The next day we had three offers on “Panthera”. Taking yacht brokering to the next level!
At the time of this writing, I was informed by the Grenada Minister of Health office that if you have been between Grenada and St. Vincent in the last 14 days you will not have to be quarantined. I printed off the email for clarity to any public official that might not have gotten the memo.
How do you think that worked out?
The taxi from Blue Lagoon to Argyle International Airport is 60 ECD. It is way out Anticipating that our flight was departing at 19:45 we got to the airport at 17:45. It was eerily quiet. There were more staff than passengers EVERYWHERE! Usually, it’s just the opposite. There was a slight schedule change which the airlines sent me alert a few days ahead of time and they even called me to make sure I had that information. So, filling out that contact information is crucial, and I appreciate this level of customer service. We breezed through the ticket counter and checked two bags at no extra charge. We whisked past the portraits of Castro and Chaves no waiting at security. We took off our shoes , put our electronics in a separate bin and pushed it all through the x-ray machine. Done! I am the type of person who cannot relax until I am sitting in front of the gate. Breath!
Looking around everything was dark. NOTHING was open – not the duty free, not any of the kiosks and no water fountains. I always bring my own Yeti tumbler but I could not find a water fountain anywhere so I had to resort use sink water. Ewww! Luckily I brought that can of Cheddar Cheese Pringles to keep us from starving during our 35 minute flight. The airline personnel systematically invited us one person at a time to walk across the tarmac to the plane. We were greeted inside and asked to see our tickets so they can wave us to our seats. Every other seat was empty on this small plane four seats wide. I made the mistake of exposing my nose from under my bandana as I sat by myself. The stewardess immediately rushed over and offered a brand new mask and wouldn’t leave until I put it on. Even with masks on, you can still get a gist of those stern facial expressions. The flight was quick as I tried to guess which island we were flying over in the inky darkness. As the plane landed, we were given instructions not to move until we were told. About twenty people exited the plane and entered the reception area strictly monitored for social distancing.
We were directed to the seating area with every other seat marked with an “x” which meant no one was allowed to sit there. The masked man adorned with a “health ministry” vest gave us instructions on our status and what that would mean in regards to quarantine – green, yellow and red zones. We had all our required forms filled out & printed before we got there but wait…they gave us just one more. Patience is definitely a virtue in the current situation. There was a couple that flew in from the UK with their seven-year old child and were not aware of the PCR testing for the yellow zone. The mom was told crying would not work to avoid the testing. The poor child screamed as the test was administer. How do you explain to a child about COVID 19? Even though kids do stupid stuff like shove marbles up their nose, I mean, how do you explain this testing? Sigh. We were finally called forward, handed over our paperwork, asked a few questions and sent to get the rapid test at no charge. In 15 minutes, our tests came back negative and we moved on to immigration.
There were three windows open and we went to each one, gave them our paperwork and answered the same questions. After picking up our luggage and going through customs, we were stopped to get our contact tracing information. Total time from landing to out the door: 2 hours.
We caught a ride from one of our favorite taxi drivers, Harold the Disco Taxi. Finally, got home, greeted the dog and crashed on the veranda. It’s nice to be home!
Was it worth it? Yes, to be able to get a boat to the new owner, to connect buyers with walk-though videos and, to be back in St. Vincent and see good friends – yes, that is always worth it!
Feel free to email us if you have any questions. We are happy to help! [email protected]