Yacht COVID-19 Safety Precautions

1 September 2020 By Capt. Mx
hand under a hand sanitizer dispenser

Still pushing water, having enjoyed and excelled aboard square riggers, Whitbread Maxis, the world cup circuit when there were only 7 boats, America’s Cuppers, 12M, modern classics, real classics, salvage, racing, passage, refits, builds and more, for 38 years, 54 Atlantic crossings, 48 world championships, and a few stories more. I enjoy the serenity and clarity that a life between the blues offers, washed by wind and waves, where all that remains is the simple truth of all things, questions for all things technical, and acceptance of all things magic. 

We are all aware of the virus. Regardless of what the world’s leaders, scientists, or your boss may say, we need to learn to live with it, while protecting ourselves and our communities. Systems exist for entry and free movement aboard that have been recognized to enhance awareness and protection from the virus, and, while meticulous, the following is readily made operational. The material required is minimal, compact, and accessible.

Go beyond removing your shoes prior to boarding. Put out a flat, split, disinfecting tray with an area for a chemical mixture and another for a cloth to dry the soles of your footwear to ensure that your shoes come back aboard virus-free. The mixture can be water and 0.05 percent hypochlorite mix (commonly used in water purification), a 10 percent chlorine mix, a 70 percent alcohol mix, or 70 percent alcohol gel. (Read up on the protocols and uses of these toxic products.)

On the dock, you can install a foot-operated gel or disinfectant pump delivery system so that no one has to touch the container and pump. The units are made with PVC Schedule 40 pipe or other pipe can be easily disassembled and stored aboard. Prior to boarding, take the temperature on the forehead with an infrared thermometer. Pulse oximeters gauge the oxygenation of the blood, so for people that are apparently asymptomatic, it’s an excellent indicator.

Everything that can be touched must be disinfected — if not after every use, a regularly scheduled disinfecting effort should be made throughout the vessel. In all heads, crew quarters, and galley, dispensers should be installed for a soap solution, with water nearby. If water isn’t available, alcohol gel is recommended, as are disposable paper towels with a covered trash can. Immediately wash plates, glasses, or utensils with soap and water.

Common areas should have a 1.5-meter distance between everyone. Though blue tape may be used to indicate safe spacing, a schedule might make everyone more comfortable. This separation based on usage should apply to virtually all items aboard. However, if things are to be shared, disinfecting procedures are strongly recommended.

Set up covered receptacles on deck for paper and in your lockers for paper towels that are readily available. If a dispenser is not installed on deck or in the cockpit, make portable bottles of alcohol gel dispensers available throughout the vessel, with sufficient supplies to last the charter or crossing.

Support awareness and intelligent behavior aboard, and remember, you are the first line of defense for your crewmates and your guests.

This column is taken from the September 2020 issue of Dockwalk.


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