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Old 23-09-2021, 08:03   #1
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On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

In several recent threads, we've discussed the knotty problem of how you comply with requirements to present fresh COVID tests upon entry into a country, when you've been at sea longer than the length of the window, making it fundamentally impossible to comply.


In Europe, the authorities of several countries have been known to allow tests to be taken on arrival, showing understanding for the problem. An example of someone being denied this option in Ireland however makes one think if there isn't a better way.


I had the idea that as the master of an ocean going vessel, and therefore responsible for medicine on board in the absence of a ship's doctor, why am I not authorized to perform a test on a crewman myself, and certify the results with a document bearing the ship's stamp?


Antigen tests are available over the counter in pharmacies all over Europe.


This may not be relevant to everyone as most countries now allow a vaccination certificate instead of a fresh test. I will be crossing the Atlantic and cruising the Caribbean this winter, and I will not have any unvaxxed people on board. But not everywhere. The UK for example requires everyone to be tested whether vaxxed or not.



So this thread is so that we an explore this option together and pool our knowledge.


I will start with St. Lucia, presumably our first destination after our crossing.


And what do you know! St. Lucia is one of those countries who require advance tests even from vaccinated travellers The window is 5 days.



Furthermore, they don't accept antigen tests -- only PCR.


And the fatal blow is -- the test must be performed by a "commercial laboratory"


"Are NHS tests acceptable?
No, NHS PCR tests are not acceptable for travel to Saint Lucia. You must secure a PCR test result from a commercial laboratory and upload the results to your travel authorisation application. PCR tests for travel are now widely available in the UK."

https://www.stlucia.org/en/covid-19/


So looks like St. Lucia is no go for Atlantic-crossers.


Next stage however will be to call them and ask whether they have a special policy for this case. I will do so and post. Next I'll check Antigua and a few other possible destinations.
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:10   #2
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

Wouldn't vaccination just be the simpler approach? Many countries (pre-covid) required proof of certain vaccinations for entry, How is this any different?

Saves all the testing and ensuring you have the right type of test kit with you, though I doubt you can carry a PCR test with you
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:12   #3
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

I'm in St. Lucia right now and had the same issue when I arrived - because of the delays in the BVI in getting results back and adverse weather I arrived just at the limit of the 5 days and managed to finagle my way in. Had my test been expired, they would have administered one and I'd have to quarantine on the boat for a day until the results come back - that only works for fully vaccinated arrivals. If you arrive unvaccinated and without a valid test the quarantine is 14 days.

Antigua is much worse (stricter) at the moment, and the French Islands are as well.

Unfortunately I'm at the dock and the bars are shut and restaurants are takeaway only at the moment, but I'm hoping that the current outbreak will get controlled and normal life can resume.

I can recommend St. Lucia as good destination for transatlantic arrivals. The health authority, customs and immigration are all right here at Rodney Bay and everyone was helpful and friendly - unlike lots of other C&I offices around the Caribbean.
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:17   #4
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
Wouldn't vaccination just be the simpler approach? Many countries (pre-covid) required proof of certain vaccinations for entry, How is this any different?

Saves all the testing and ensuring you have the right type of test kit with you, though I doubt you can carry a PCR test with you

Some countries (including Canada, at least for US travelers) are requiring a test even for vaccinated travelers.
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:20   #5
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

I don't know that much about Covid, testing, etc. but from what I've seen anyone requiring a test is requiring a PCR test. PCR tests are processed by a laboratory. The 'home test kits' that are out there are just specimen collection kits and you mail your sample to a lab for processing. There is no PCR home test kit to my knowledge where you yourself produce a result by doing something with the sample. Being able to collect the sample aboard doesn't alleviate much burden if you still have to mail it to a lab.
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Old 23-09-2021, 08:32   #6
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
Some countries (including Canada, at least for US travelers) are requiring a test even for vaccinated travelers.
Agreed, but try to cross the boarder unvaccinated.... Researching the requirements gets you past the first hurdle (knowledge) assuming it doesn't change on you before you arrive. Vaccination gets you past the second hurdle (being prepared)
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:00   #7
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
Wouldn't vaccination just be the simpler approach? Many countries (pre-covid) required proof of certain vaccinations for entry, How is this any different?

Saves all the testing and ensuring you have the right type of test kit with you, though I doubt you can carry a PCR test with you

You need to read the post again.


Everyone on board this vessel is vaccinated.


The problem is for some countries that is not enough -- even vaccinated people must bring fresh tests with them.
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:03   #8
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
I'm in St. Lucia right now and had the same issue when I arrived - because of the delays in the BVI in getting results back and adverse weather I arrived just at the limit of the 5 days and managed to finagle my way in. Had my test been expired, they would have administered one and I'd have to quarantine on the boat for a day until the results come back - that only works for fully vaccinated arrivals. If you arrive unvaccinated and without a valid test the quarantine is 14 days.

Antigua is much worse (stricter) at the moment, and the French Islands are as well.

Unfortunately I'm at the dock and the bars are shut and restaurants are takeaway only at the moment, but I'm hoping that the current outbreak will get controlled and normal life can resume.

I can recommend St. Lucia as good destination for transatlantic arrivals. The health authority, customs and immigration are all right here at Rodney Bay and everyone was helpful and friendly - unlike lots of other C&I offices around the Caribbean.

Extremely useful information!! Thank you!!


So it sounds like St. Lucia is helping out long distance cruisers the same way some European countries are doing -- if you can't comply because you've been at sea too long, then they will allow you to test upon arrival. Great!


So I guess that makes St. Lucia Plan A for us. But of course we will research several backup destinations and keep checking before we leave to make sure they don't change the policy. We'll have a sat phone so we can call them a few days before we arrive and be sure.


Thanks again!
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:10   #9
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

Dockhead - exactly. And when I asked about the same thing in Antigua (vaccinated, but arriving after 5-day test expiry) I was first told that it wouldn't be allowed, then that I'd have to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
St. Martin (Dutch side) has some expensive hoops to jump through if you arrive without a test and my friend, who had arrived non-stop from France, had to pay a couple of hundred dollars for the doctor's visit and agent fees. The French side, St. Barths, Guadeloupe, and Martinique will only let you in if you have a valid reason (and looking at the scenery doesn't cut it) and they will also administer a test and make you quarantine until the results come back. I had initially wanted to go to French St. Martin from the BVI but after spending a week trying to get an official answer on the current entry rules I gave up because I didn't want to make a mistake and have to spend 14 days aboard eating my MREs and dreaming of a cold beer ashore

A month ago Grenada was also an option with the same procedure - test upon arrival and quarantine until the results come back. They have since imposed curfews, like St. Lucia, to stem the COVID-19 outbreak and the beaches are only open from 4am to 10am (who goes to the beach at 4am?) but their entry requirements haven't changed.
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:16   #10
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

Quote:
Originally Posted by dougweibel View Post
I don't know that much about Covid, testing, etc. but from what I've seen anyone requiring a test is requiring a PCR test. PCR tests are processed by a laboratory. The 'home test kits' that are out there are just specimen collection kits and you mail your sample to a lab for processing. There is no PCR home test kit to my knowledge where you yourself produce a result by doing something with the sample. Being able to collect the sample aboard doesn't alleviate much burden if you still have to mail it to a lab.

Antigen tests are available over the counter in Europe and aren't that expensive.


Antigen tests are accepted by most European countries.


But some of them require the test to be made in a commercial lab.
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:18   #11
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
Dockhead - exactly. And when I asked about the same thing in Antigua (vaccinated, but arriving after 5-day test expiry) I was first told that it wouldn't be allowed, then that I'd have to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
St. Martin (Dutch side) has some expensive hoops to jump through if you arrive without a test and my friend, who had arrived non-stop from France, had to pay a couple of hundred dollars for the doctor's visit and agent fees. The French side, St. Barths, Guadeloupe, and Martinique will only let you in if you have a valid reason (and looking at the scenery doesn't cut it) and they will also administer a test and make you quarantine until the results come back. I had initially wanted to go to French St. Martin from the BVI but after spending a week trying to get an official answer on the current entry rules I gave up because I didn't want to make a mistake and have to spend 14 days aboard eating my MREs and dreaming of a cold beer ashore

A month ago Grenada was also an option with the same procedure - test upon arrival and quarantine until the results come back. They have since imposed curfews, like St. Lucia, to stem the COVID-19 outbreak and the beaches are only open from 4am to 10am (who goes to the beach at 4am?) but their entry requirements haven't changed.

You are a treasure-house of information; thank you very much!


I do hope this outbreak will dampen down soon so you can enjoy the rest of your cruise.


Will you still be around in December-January?
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:34   #12
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

I'm doing home-office for 8 hours a day and the internet here at Rodney Bay is very good (especially from 5am to 9am when I'm the only one using it for work conferences) so I'm staying here for a while. Although St. Lucia is nominally in the hurricane belt, the last big one was 40 years ago so it is not a bad place to be and the marina/lagoon at Rodney Bay is very protected with just a small entrance channel to prevent surge and flooding.

I might still be here in December. I wanted to visit my friends in Grenada, but if the northern islands open up again for cruisers then I'll head north. I am a volunteer at the Heineken Regatta as well as the Antigua Sailing Week but that doesn't happen until next year.

After keeping my boats in the BVI for over 15 years I've found a new favorite location and don't think I'll be returning there again. Apart from the high costs and unfriendly attitudes, the last episode really bothered me; you now need pre-permission to clear out of the BVI. You send photocopies of all your paperwork to someone in Road Town and have to wait to get permission from him so that you can go and actually clear out! In my case it took over 3 weeks to get that permission, I was ignored despite lots of mails and only once I cc'd the German Consul on the mails did someone answer and give me permission to leave! 3 weeks and not a single "sorry" or reason. And when I got permission the weather window was closed and I had to leave in awful since you get 24 hours after clearing out to depart the territory. So rather then whining about it (again) I've voted with my feet (or boat, as it were) and it turns out I'm just one boat in a whole herd of sailors who have left and won't return.
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Old 23-09-2021, 09:50   #13
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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So looks like St. Lucia is no go for Atlantic-crossers
Those that have been at sea for that period of time have been under quarantine by it's very nature, vaccinated or not.

Difficult to meet requirements when those are set up in such a way that they are near impossible to comply with in the first place.

My suggestion would be to stay away from certain countries until this is over, or put cruising on hold for now.


This whole mess is like a complete arrest on life itself.
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Old 23-09-2021, 10:08   #14
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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Originally Posted by Van Der Beek View Post
Those that have been at sea for that period of time have been under quarantine by it's very nature, vaccinated or not.

My suggestion would be to stay away from certain countries until this is over, or put cruising on hold for now.

This whole mess is like a complete arrest on life itself.

Addendum
Difficult to meet requirements when those are set up in such a way that they are near impossible to comply with in the first place.

I certainly agree that it is utterly meaningless, from an epidemiological point of view, to require testing for vaccinated people who have been at sea for two weeks (not three with our boat). Some countries (Finland, Sweden) go further and have no controls whatsoever on entry by pleasure vessel -- no test, no quarantine, no vaccine requirement, no PLF. But only countries like that with huge percentage of the population being sailors, pay enough attention to our little problems to care enough to write a sensible rule what concerns us.



But it is what it is, and we have to live with it. I sure as hell am not going to give up cruising. I've had a fantastic summer cruising the Baltic Sea with almost no problems of any kind, life almost normal everywhere.


What Zanshin has described for St. Lucia sounds great. Sounds like a perfect place to go.
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Old 23-09-2021, 10:10   #15
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Re: On-Board COVID Testing for Long Passages

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But only countries like that with huge percentage of the population being sailors, pay enough attention to our little problems to care enough to write a sensible rule what concerns us.

That's the key. They're all trying to write 1 rule that works for the majority of travel. If a few people want to show up by boat and don't quite fit into the rules without some annoyances or exceptions, that's not a huge concern for most countries.
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