As May dawns, it’s more evident that things around the world are not usual. We’re continuing to check in with crew about their experiences with COVID-19 and their current status and situation. Share your stories with us — email email@example.com.
If Capt. Rob has just one thing to say, it’s this: get tested for COVID-19, symptoms or not. Rob shares that three of his crewmembers were just diagnosed with the virus after being tested in South Florida. They were all asymptomatic and had been following safety guidelines. “I think this will be indicative of most vessels after people start testing,” he says. “Two of my crew have been working out up to two hours each day up until their diagnosis, and none of them showed any signs or symptoms. Everyone is fit and healthy, and I think there are a lot of guys running around thinking they’re safe and they’re not. Walking around in denial is not going to help anyone.”
Immediately after getting the test results, Rob quarantined everyone to their cabins and began arranging an offsite house for the affected crew to move into. Since some of his crew are on holiday or away from the vessel, the remaining crew had cabins to themselves and those sharing were split up, he says. “The galley was shut down and I made arrangements for meals to be catered by a known outside trusted source,” he says. “We’ll be retesting next week and see where it goes from there.”
Testing is readily available, says Rob, who explained that he went through a local South Florida lab, who put him in touch with a doctor who spoke to all the crew and then ordered a prescription for the test for everyone. The lab dispatched techs to the boat for testing and results were available within 24 hours. He stresses that you don’t need to have any symptoms to get tested. “It’s readily available,” Rob says. As Rob points out, they’re finding new information about the disease each day — one day what you thought was correct is invalidated. “The message I’ve learned from this is get tested no matter how careful and safe you’re being and how healthy your crew seems,” he says.
As illustrated by Rob, the crew were not immune even though they had been taking precautions. “We have changed our processes individually and as a crew,” he says. “Common areas are being disinfected several times a day, people are much more aware of what they touch both on themselves and around the vessel, [and] PPE [is] utilized much more.” His crew has been working hard to keep safe. “I’ve been really impressed with the maturity they have exhibited,” he says. “I hear of other boats having crew sneaking around and violating the vessels rules; I’ve had none of that with my gang. They’re very committed to keeping themselves safe and very appreciative to still be employed in these uncertain times.”
Management company Burgess was very quick to issue guidance on managing the different aspects of the pandemic, Rob says. “They’ve taken a very proactive approach with the fleet and have been [an] asset for us.” The boat was mid paint job, which has been extended a further six to eight weeks as they were forced to cut the number of contractors.
“[It’s] added stress! Mainly of the unknown,” he says. “There’s no playbook for this, no previous experiences to make well-informed decisions from and no idea where it’s all going.”
But what has been helpful, Rob says — “This situation has certainly brought out the best of the industry. Myself and my crew have had an outpouring of support from other crews. It’s really helped with morale tremendously.”
For more related content:
Crew Perspectives: Capt. Bill Hipple
Crew Perspectives: Bosun Sheldon Rainbow
Crew Perspectives of COVID-19
Crew Perspectives: Capt. Peter Vazquez