Richard and his wife Alexandra have been confined on board their Lagoon 450 catamaran, Hawkeye, since the end of March. They’ve been telling us about their daily life, stranded in the British Virgin Islands.
We have been in lockdown for several weeks now, like more than 3 billion people around the world. But confinement has a whole new dimension in the British Virgin Islands. Here you can be arrested if you’re caught walking your dog, and you can end up in jail for using your car! It’s now been a month since anyone in the BVI has left their home to walk. A 24/7 curfew has been put in place, during which no shops, pharmacies or businesses are allowed to open. No-one – with the exception of ’essential workers’ – is allowed to leave their homes.
For our part, we aren’t allowed to sail. Nor set foot on a beach or meet up with anyone from any of the thirty or so other yachts also confined here.
How is life on board?
Life aboard our Lagoon 450 is comfortable. The positive point is that we have a large stock of food. We’ve got plenty of tins, jars and dried food that we keep on board in case of emergency. The negative point is that we are running out of fresh produce. A very well-organized delivery service has been set up however. We hope they’ll be able to deliver to Hawkeye soon.
Otherwise, the weather is simply divine. With a temperature of 30°C (86°F) during the day and up to 25°C (77°F) at night, we’re making the most of the sunshine and light breeze on deck.
Hawkeye is a superbly equipped catamaran: two generators, two watermakers, a big dishwasher, a large washer/dryer, two freezers, a food refrigerator, a bar refrigerator, solar panels, power showers, three cabins with en-suite heads, and much more. So we’re a self-sufficient catamaran in many respects. We make our own electricity (thanks to the generators and solar panels), ice, fresh water (more than 4 tons per day maximum – we’ve been able to fill up other nearby yachts), fresh bread and Alexandra has been making some great yoghurt!
We’re also doing a lot of free-diving and paddle-boarding, in what is literally a tropical aquarium. There’s even a friendly ’Nurse Shark’, who lives under the Willy T (a well-known floating bar in the British Virgin Islands, shown in the photo above) – but she’s a bottom dweller, so she’s not really a danger to us.
When are you going to be able to leave the BVI?
Another problem on the horizon is that the hurricane season starts in June and, as with almost all yachts in the Caribbean, it is now virtually impossible to insure against named storms with EU-based insurers. We’ve got the choice of putting our Lagoon 450 ashore in a shipyard here in the British Virgin Islands and leaving for the US or the UK. But that would mean but that means we wouldn’t be back until September, and as the hurricane season is very intense, that would likely mean coming back for Hawkeye in November. We’re also thinking about fleeing south, to islands like Grenada, but they may be full to bursting point.
Or staying afloat and playing bumper cars.
We’re not complaining though – there are many advantages to being in lockdown here on our catamaran. For a start, it’s an area that’s almost entirely free of Covid-19, and the wildlife is amazing. Sea turtles come to visit us every day. We have a dozen or so tarpon living right under Hawkeye – with big mouths but they’ve got no teeth, so are completely harmless. Staying in the shade during the day, they come out at night, attracted by our fishing light.
We’re worried about the people here without income, because 45% of the islands’ revenues come from tourism, and the most important sector yacht charter. Many locals don’t have credit cards and running short of food…
To maintain crew morale, our Lagoon 450 has an excellent wine cellar which never seems to get depleted! So, all in all, we’d rather be here on our catamaran than anywhere else on the planet. But we can’t wait for life to get back to normal – there’s going to be the biggest party ever held here on the Willy T!
Richard & Alexandra