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Old 07-12-2020, 09:08 AM   #1
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Covid Snowbirding

We are watching with alarm the raging Covid fire in Florida and South Carolina and wondering whether our annual snowbird cruise south will be wise or possible this year. For a variety of non boating related reasons, we may have to make a decision about going well before the fall picture become clearer. Iím not sure which would be worse, being stuck in upstate NY and knowing we could have taken the boat to FL or being down south wishing we had stayed home. Iíd like to start this thread for people pondering the same issue. Please: no politics. The numbers are what they are and how we got here as a nation is a subject for a different forum.

We primarily anchor out which makes the decision a bit easier for us. We have been in the habit of touching somewhere every 3 Ė 5 days since we like to see shore places. Iím doing some upgrades on the boat to make her more self sufficient such as self pump out of one holding tank so we can nip offshore and dump if the marinas close. We could carry enough food for the whole winter so fresh water would be our most limiting issue. A water maker just isnít financially feasible this year.

The prospect of not going is frustrating because the cost of storing the boat up here in the Hudson is about the same as the fuel to go down and back.

What are other northeast snowbirds thinking and planning?
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:14 AM   #2
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I did it for years. This year I stayed south.

I am in Ft Pierce and while the fire rages, if you are willing to cruise with just occasional trips to the grocery/ pharmacy if necessary ( many have curbside pickup or easy to keep good distance inside) ig should be like any other year.

Sure restaurants, bars and visitor spots are closed or bad ideas....but if those can be skipped this year, cruise and enjoy.

The chuckleheads that say cruisers are dangerous seem to forget that people are driving cars in and out of their state in tens of thousands.
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:21 AM   #3
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This thread belongs in the Covid section.
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:33 AM   #4
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This thread belongs in the Covid section.
Not really .......it is about cruising and the practicality of it.

Unless people start arguing like its immoral, or people are jerks for being transients, or how it will affect the world in a political sense...

But discussed by reasonable people about marinas and other services, availability of space, alternatives to usual entertainment, probzbility of congestion/boat traffic, etc, etc.....

If one must discuss whether it should or should be done because of "beliefs....that should be a separate thread in the COVID wasteland..

For Roger....what I have read the 14 day quarantines do not apply to transients transiting and do not prohibit you from food/drug shopping or medical visits. But to be safe, check regularly.
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Old 07-12-2020, 09:55 AM   #5
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Thanks OP for starting this thread. I've looked forward for 40+ years to finally being able to buy a suitable boat and do the ditch to the FL Keys. Bought the boat last year and have been outfitting it as time and budget allow. Like me, my crew are all over 65 with the oldest just over 80, so we're in a higher risk group for bad virus outcomes.

We're definitely conflicted. Sure, we might be able to avoid situations where we'd be more likely to be exposed to the virus, but getting sick far from home and not necessarily in an area with good health care is a legitimate concern. For now, we're hoping for a vaccine. But if we wait until then (and who knows for sure when that will be) other health conditions might prevent some (or all) of us from being able to make the trip.

Anybody know a good (reliable) fortune teller with an insight into the future?
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Old 07-12-2020, 10:05 AM   #6
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I am in a similar situation as we sold the boat here in CT and next week we must return to Florida via car.
So back into the heat and a Covid epicenter. Fortunately or county has been one of the lowest infected, and we don't mind staying mostly home.
We can do the online Walmart grocery shopping with curb pickup, which we did early on and it was a good experience.

And 2 months ago we were worried about coming north, looks like the tables have turned.
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Old 07-12-2020, 10:12 AM   #7
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I will be heading South in October.
This spring (May) when I came North, my travel style had changed quite a bit. Normally I anchor out. While I will dinghy in for dinner, dockage and reprovisioning is every 5 to 7 days. In May, I docked twice in 22 days. While no dining out definitely reduced the enjoyment factor, I still had a good time.

This falls trip may actually be easier as we will know quite a bit more about virus contact avoidance than we did in the beginning of May.

In May, I provisioned the boat to make the trip without reprovisioning (stops were for fruits and vegetables). While I will likely do this again, I feel confident that I will have a couple of safe places to add perishables to the stores.

As far as boat servicing, I'm very confident that I will be able to stop at Osprey marina in South Myrtle Beach, SC for fuel, water and a pump out. Even if I can't stay overnight, taking care of water and pump out, will get me to Fort Myers.

I think most marina businesses that cater to transients will be better prepared this fall. This is their livelihood after all. I would recommend planning well and contacting places you plan to stop before leaving home. Think it's also a good idea to note all commercial or municipal mooring fields along the way. They are certainly a good way to avoid contact, but be able to dinghy in for grocery runs and maybe a pizza pickup.

Whether you will feel safe in your location in Florida is obviously dependent on the location. While there may be some new challenges by the time I get to Florida, I feel safer in my location (boat and home) there than I do here. But that's just my situation, not yours.

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Old 07-12-2020, 10:25 AM   #8
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Not a fortune teller or an expert but I have a theory. During the winter those of us living in the Midwest and Northeast were staying inside in our heated homes and apartments living in recirculated air while those the the South like Florida or Southwest like Texas and Arizona were enjoying moderate temperatures where windows were open and folks were enjoying the outdoors (to some extent given social distancing guidelines). The Covid spikes were among those areas where folks were shut indoors.
Now that the weather in the Northeast and Midwest is so pleasant, the Covid cases are down but with the high heat in the South and Southwest, most folks are staying inside with recirculated airconditioned air and the Covid cases are rapidly increasing. People need to get outside daily and breathe fresh air (socially distant) in order to thwart the contagion. By late Fall and Winter, Florida will have the weather suitable for such activity so I suspect the spread will mitigate accordingly.

As Psneeld advises, with proper social distancing and curbside pickup when groceries are needed, the risk can be mitigated (although not eliminated).

I am planning to visit my mother in Phoenix this winter so have been pondering this as well.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:13 AM   #9
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Life has pretty much returned to “normal” or at least a new normal for us.

We “PPE up” when going in public. Hand sanitizer, wipes, yes face masks. We use the sanitizer, alcohol, or wipes on every thing we touch, and every thing we bring out of a strore.

My opinion is we are being as safe as possible in a sustainable way. The only thing we do not do is fly or eat out.

My opinion would be to travel as you normally would, but use PPE to mitigate the risks. Remember that this risk has not gone away, and act accordingly.

Also keep in mind that this might be “normal” for another year, or two, or more, we just do not know.
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:15 AM   #10
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Roger,
My quick thoughts..... it all depends on your risk tolerance and how you feel you can lower the risk (if you feel it necessary). Being anchored, or to a lessor extent docked while maintaining a good social distance and being careful with what you touch, is to me far safer than "land based" travel. With the land based, you need to stop to eat (restaurants), use the "head facilities", and stay in a motel/hotel. Far more opportunity for exposure when comparing that aspect of your travel, and no matter where you are (travelling or home), you still need to get food, prescriptions, etc. If you require a marine tech due to a breakdown, that may provide an avenue for exposure. Only you know whether your risk tolerance will allow you to feel "safe".
JT.
Your theory may be correct partly. While there is evidence of the virus being air born, hence potentially being transported through heating and air conditioning vents, this would probably only be a potential factor in larger buildings like apartments, stores, etc. I don't feel that going outside for short periods of time (compared to the time spent at work, or shopping, or indoors sleeping) would "thwart the contagion". It is a virus, and once you have inhaled or otherwise contracted it, breathing fresh air will not help at that point. Exposure avoidance is the only way to not get sick. Do not let the virus into your body. There is little evidence that transmission through heating and air conditioning is a major infection source (at least at this point, things change fast on the Covid front).
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Old 07-12-2020, 11:40 AM   #11
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Not really .......it is about cruising and the practicality of it.

Unless people start arguing like its immoral, or people are jerks for being transients, or how it will affect the world in a political sense...

But discussed by reasonable people about marinas and other services, availability of space, alternatives to usual entertainment, probzbility of congestion/boat traffic, etc, etc.....

If one must discuss whether it should or should be done because of "beliefs....that should be a separate thread in the COVID wasteland..

For Roger....what I have read the 14 day quarantines do not apply to transients transiting and do not prohibit you from food/drug shopping or medical visits. But to be safe, check regularly.
Itís interesting that discussions amongst cruisers is invariably about whether itís safe for them. The safety of those they could potentially infect is characterized as material for the Covid wasteland section. Very interesting.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:05 PM   #12
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Get tested before you start your journey.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:07 PM   #13
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Kitimat's MK Bay marina is allowing transient boaters again, but only BC resident boaters. Only BC residents allowed to camp in the campground.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:16 PM   #14
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Itís interesting that discussions amongst cruisers is invariably about whether itís safe for them. The safety of those they could potentially infect is characterized as material for the Covid wasteland section. Very interesting.
I can understand your comment However, from my perspective, by boating (assuming that is his decision) safely as far as Covid is concerned it would not only protect Roger (and crew) but any others he may have limited contact with (key word "limited" as in distancing, masks, hygiene, etc.). At least that was "my thinking".
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:21 PM   #15
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Can we please discuss this FROM a cruisers point of view rather THAN a COVID point of view.


How can we cruise safely and protect those in places we want to go.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:33 PM   #16
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Roger,

I plan on going. Coming up this Spring, I followed your advice above strategically planning fuel prices. It made for fewer stops. I think groceries can be had easier now as many more stores are delivering. Then thereís the Food Lion next to the Dismal Swamp Canal and the Publix on Turners Creek. There may be more I am unaware of that are right on a waterway.

There is always water at a boatyard. For the most part, they are essential services and always open. Same with all those docks that have commercial fishing running out of them.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:40 PM   #17
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Get tested before you start your journey.
Dan made a good polnt and it didn't seem to gain traction. Beforer we started our journey to Seattle all four of us who would be on board got tested and results were all negative. That eliminated one concern we all had and made us feel better about being cooped up on a boat for almost 2 weeks.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:46 PM   #18
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Psneeld,

Well Iíd have to stay away from South Carolina.

I went into B and B seafood last Spring. There was an old timer sitting outside the store (when I say old timer, I mean old old) he said something to me, and I have no idea what it was. Between the difference in our accents and my hearing loss (Iím not deaf!, could you repeat that?) I had to get about 18 inches away to make heads or tails of the info he was giving me.

Come to think of it, I had better stay away from Smith Island too.

Or I could get a hearing aid.
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Old 07-12-2020, 12:53 PM   #19
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I think it would be doable while taking precautions. My concern would be if you break down and have to stay tied up at a marina with multiple workers coming aboard to repair the problem. I guess that you could stay outside while workers are onboard and then sanitize the boat when they leave. I would certainly do any and all maintenance before I left on the trip to minimize the chance of needing repairs. I would absolutely stock the boat as much as possible so that trips to the store would be minimized. Get all medications needed for the entire trip, etc. Take enough PPE for the whole trip.
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Old 07-12-2020, 01:14 PM   #20
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I think it depends on what kind of cruising you will do and enjoy. If you depend on restaurants and seeing sights on land, I'd say a strong "no." If you can anchor and even when you dock, stay on the boat 100%, and you can enjoy just the water and nothing more then "yes, do it." Today is the 4th day this week we've been on the water. Returning home from a trip yesterday to the keys. Never touched land. Just us, the boat, our small group and the water. All with our group that is rigid about the rules. We're not cruising up or down the coast as we normally would because we like to sight see and that's not available as something we'd risk doing right now.

I'll talk safety in South Florida and SC a moment since we're in South Florida and family owns hotels in Myrtle Beach. Your safety depends on others following protocols. If you go to a business that 100% enforces distancing and masks, then your risk is relatively low. If you go to a bar where no one is wearing a mask, then you're in big trouble. Now, most marinas in South Florida are doing a great job of following rules. They want to be allowed to stay open. Call marinas in advance. I've been told in other places including SC that there's a huge difference. One marina and you'll be greeted by a deck hand with no distancing or mask. Another will be masked and keep distance. Just understand the one not following protocols, didn't with the last people either.

If you make the trip, it can be safe. Just don't slip. Don't decide the barbecue place will be safe. There is no way to eat inside in a restaurant safely if you're 65+. Outside only if tables are well spaced. The problem is that eating and talking you emit the virus if you have it. Imagine something like singing.

I think if you can accept and live with the limitations, the trip is fine. If however you're going to say, "well, just once won't hurt me" then you shouldn't leave home. It's that one time going into town and running across the town crier that can do you in. At home, you know who you can trust. On the road, don't trust anyone.

A simple example. Dov Charney owns a small apparel manufacturing company in LA. He owned another but bankrupted it and was kicked out over his behavior. This one has around 400 employees. Over 300 have tested positive. He was manufacturing masks but not having employees wear them. We have 15 apparel manufacturing plants and have had 3 cases, none spread, people who got it elsewhere. Every employee is masked, gowned, gloved, and shielded. You'd look around and think we were running a hospital. We started back up making masks and gowns for medical usage, now on to other things. When you travel, you just don't know who to trust.

You can get all you need without ever leaving a dock. Food and other delivery is available anywhere today. So, can you 100% accept all the limitations? If so, come south and enjoy.

We've now made two short trips to Key West and never touched shore. Not as nice as normal, but sure beats doing nothing.
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