As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and countries around the world close their borders, a number of superyachts are making their way to UK waters. “Due to the closure of Caribbean ports and travel restrictions, superyachts are now leaving the Caribbean,” says Anne Carson of Super Yacht Services Falmouth. “UK ports are open and in the last two weeks we have seen influx of yachts returning to UK. Some of the larger vessels, including an 83m and 72m motoryacht, have already obtained berths in UK waters, meanwhile there is a large number of boats crossing that have already arranged berthing.”
As the sole AYSS (Association of Yacht Support Services) agent in the UK, Superyacht Services Falmouth is handling many of the yachts that have already arrived, are on their way or are still in Caribbean. “In Falmouth, we have a couple of moorings up to 60m as well as anchorages and we are getting daily updates of the availability of berths in other ports,” says Carson. “In addition to the usual arrival formalities, we have been asking the boats to make a spreadsheet of the crew’s temperatures taken twice daily to send off with the Declaration of Health.”
Industry association Superyacht UK has also been offering support and information for yachts arriving in the UK. “Our understanding is that UK ports are open for commercial use, and this includes for yachts – those that are Red Ensign flagged or have UK nationals on board – repatriating to UK waters,” advises Jeff Houlgrave, chairman of Superyacht UK. “The current situation for arriving yachts is to follow normal entry procedures, which includes completing a UK Declaration of Health form.”
Houlgrave adds that, as well as Falmouth, Dartmouth is asking for crewmembers’ temperatures to be recorded twice daily during passage to the UK. “If there are no recorded symptoms and the yacht has been at sea for 14 days or more, then those on board can disembark as normal on arrival,” he explains. Or, if there are no recorded symptoms but the yacht has been at sea for less than 14 days, then those on board will need to quarantine on the yacht until the time difference is made up before disembarking.
Once in the UK, yacht crew and guests will of course have restricted movement in accordance with the rest of the UK population. Finally, Houlgrave notes, some ports might prefer vessels to reduce the number of crew to minimum safe manning levels and there could be issues with getting supplies. “There are certain political sensitivities surrounding the situation that arriving yachts need to be aware of,” cautions Houlgrave.
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