We are waiting for our second vaccine dose in a country which is experiencing a Covid explosion. Normally, in such circumstances, we would have sailed away by now. I couldn’t imagine staying in Barbados for example, if the positive testing rate was around 40%. We would have raised the sails, lifted the anchor and been gone. Beauty of a boat.
But here we are. We wait for our second jab in three weeks time. And when we do, we will be the only group of yachties we know who have been vaccinated by the country they are staying in – certainly in the Caribbean. Most islands either do not have sufficient supplies to cover visitors alongside their residents.
Bonaire is being amazingly fair this way. Though we have no medical insurance if we catch Covid. We had to sign that waiver when we arrived here. The paperwork was clear.
They explained it like this: Bonaire only have 7 ICU beds in their small but immaculate (my insertion – I’ve seen it from the entrance) hospital. As we speak, four ICU beds are already taken with Covid patients, and they need to move people daily to the larger hospital facility on neighbouring Curaçao. I’ve seen that helicopter too. Residents are covered by the Dutch-style medical care coverage. Europe in the tropics. We can only watch and be warned. Don’t get sick.
We decided to go diving on our now-usual Saturday routine. We rent the rust bucket on Saturdays.
We got up early, hauled all the dive gear in the pick-up, noted the build-up of new rust accumulated during the week with interest, piled into the dual cab and headed south.
We stopped at the dive resort, Wannadive. It’s a newly-built dive shop with entirely open-air facilities. You can get your tanks filled on the spot, wash your gear in multiple rinse tanks, rent gear, take a seat in the shade and even have a shower in lovely, open-air cubicles. It’s the best facility.
It’s manned by the owner’s son, Alan. They are still open during lockdown – which shows how important diving is to the island, but with reduced staff (only Alan), and extra precautionary measures. Yellow tape now blocks off areas where you can’t go, and reminds you to social distance. If two cars show up, one has to wait for the other to finish and leave. We washed our gear and filled our tanks before setting off to the supermarket – where Jack now does the shopping on his own. The rule is one person per household.
Before we left, we spoke to Alan – and asked him what he thought. Alan said, in his opinion, the virus is now so embedded in the island that lockdown can no longer halt its spread.
He said, ‘They should have vaccinated everyone quickly, like they did in St Eustatius and Statia. They also have small populations and everyone was vaccinated in a few days. Here they don’t even start vaccinating under-60s until May.’ Alan shook his head sadly. ‘It’s too late.’
I nodded but at the same time, turned my body so he wouldn’t see my vaccination plaster on my left arm. Suddenly, I wasn’t so proud of it.