Breaking News! What it is really like once your flight, giving you the bird’s eye view of the aquamarine waters and tropical panoramic vistas of the islands, touches down at Beef Island, Torola’s airport.
“There has been a lot of negative social media response to the current COVID protocols; personally I think that that is somewhat of a misrepresentation. Our charter experience was almost business as usual. Guests flew in to Beef Island, where they did their first COVID test right on the tarmac in a testing facility that has been built there. Quick and easy, and then proceeding through customs and immigrations was fine. Our guests received their day one results before 11am the following day. Guests were issued a tracking bracelet for contract tracing; it looked like a digital watch and was fairly unobtrusive. They got on the boat, and we left the dock and went out on charter straight away.
The list of approved quarantine anchorages has grown, and we spent a balmy few days in unseasonably quiet anchorages doing what we always do. Guests are allowed to go ashore in the approved anchorages for beach time (after receipt of their day 1 negative test results); these are all quiet bays with no beach bars or local traffic, but that’s not a bad thing. We did Watersports during the first 4 days; the rule is 30’ from the boat, but still no clarity on whether that means from the dinghy as well. Hopefully some clarity will come soon, but for now my main guideline was stay in the bays we are approved for and don’t let guests go anywhere near any other boats or people.
We then headed in to Nanny Cay early on Day 4 for the second COVID test – taxis paid for by government were standing by (there have been some reports of multiple boats using the same taxi; this is strictly controlled by Nanny Cay now and will not happen again). The testing facility is half a mile from Nanny Cay; the procedure is streamlined and professional. Guests were back at the boat within twenty minutes, and we headed out to continue our week. Results for the test came in before 11am the following morning, and we were then free to go ashore and visit restaurants and bars.
I will say that the most noticeable thing for me was that it was quiet. Soggy Dollar and Willy T had a few guests, but nothing like what is normal this time of year. There are more and more boats going out though, so I’m not sure how long that will last. One note regarding the tracking bracelets; the ones used for our guests were not waterproof, which we discovered the first night in the hot tub, when several shorted out. One guest said hers got pretty hot, so I got them all to take theirs off for fear of someone getting hurt. We left them off for the rest of the week. There have been numerous reports of problems with the system, and I’m fairly sure it will be discontinued soon. Some people have been asked to upload an app to their phone, but apparently it only works on Android phones so some people have been given a phone to carry around with them. It’s slightly annoying, but our experience was that it wasn’t a big deal.
I would also say that there is a positive side to stricter protocols. Other locations with more lax protocols are experiencing high infection rates. Once you’ve jumped through the hoops here, BVI is probably one of the safest places to be at the moment and your risk of exposure is extremely low. Our charter experience was extremely positive, and guests had a great time. The protocols really were a bit of a non-issue, and it was almost normal.”