Tag: News

Doing what we can

We’re back! Well, as much as we can be at the moment anyway. Juliet resumed limited charters on June 6 to the Florida Keys, and it was nice to be back out on the water again. The following three charters followed suit with small groups, limited crew, and more Florida Keys – thank goodness the weather was gorgeous, we never get that lucky on regularly-scheduled Keys charters! We thought we might be able to squeak out a trip to the Bahamas when they announced their soft opening June 15, but the testing requirements were logistically not feasible in the time frame we were given. And we were hoping that their official reopening on July 1 would yield an easier window…

But the official word from the Bahamas is that the borders are open and they are excited to welcome tourists again, but until further notice, they will be requiring negative COVID tests to enter the country. All travelers are required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR swab test taken within 10 days of travel, and results digitally submitted to the Ministry of Health to obtain a travel visa. We had our first successful Bahamas entry on July 5 so we can attest that it is doable, and it is so good to be back.

Logically you might question that timeline – so the test was negative on day 7, but what if you then are exposed 5 days out, what then? No, it’s not perfect, far from it. But it is the best the Bahamas can do right now to try to jump start their tourism-reliant economy while trying to protect their citizens from folks coming from areas that have wide-spread COVID-19 community transmission. It is more of a hurdle than a fail-safe, discouraging an unrestricted mass-exodus from the nearby states in the US. If someone does come down with a serious case of COVID-19 while in the Bahamas or transmits it to someone who lives there… their medical system cannot handle a major outbreak. If you’re feeling symptomatic, do not travel.

Yes, we all need a break, but not at the expense of Bahamian citizens’ health and well-being. And even though we as a group on Juliet do not touch land, the captain does, and the captain interacts with all passengers and crew before doing so. So this testing requirement does include us. If you are booked with us on a trip this summer, assume that this testing procedure will be our New Normal until told otherwise. Look into how and where you can get tested, what the turn-around time is for results, and plan accordingly. You will receive detailed information 2 weeks prior to your trip’s departure. If this process is not feasible for you, please reach out to the office and we’ll chat about options.

There may be weeks this summer that we are scheduled to head to the Bahamas and cannot due to local testing procedures, results taking longer in some parts of the country, or some counties not allowing asymptomatic testing to prevent a drain on local resources. Those weeks we might get rerouted to the Keys again. We’ll do our best to get you away, wherever that may be. We’re being as flexible as we can, and we appreciate your patience while we navigate this new ocean. And of course, this is all subject to change – thanks for bearing with us!

Fair winds.

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Making progress!

Signs of life are starting to return to the streets and states around the country are slowly reopening their economies for business in whatever this new normal will be. We’re still on standby but here is the latest update:

Miami is beginning the reopening process with many marinas reopened May 18 along with the bulk of other non-essential businesses. Many restrictions on occupancy are still in place, including limiting charter boats to 10 total individuals on board, and our dockage location is not yet open to commercial operations. Also, according to the emergency order categorization we believe we fall under hotel and travel lodging, which have not yet been allowed to reopen but is anticipated for June 1.

The Florida Keys announced they will be reopening to tourism on June 1. If this lines up with hotel also reopening in Miami-Dade, we could be on track for restarting charters in some capacity in early June with the Florida Keys as the destination to start.

As Bimini went into full lock-down for 2 weeks over recent unexpected spreading of Covid-19, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas announced over the weekend that the country anticipates they could reopen for commercial travel on or before July 1. It is still unclear what that means for commercial boating as flights were the only thing mentioned in the address. We hope to be able to return to the beauty of the Bahamas by late June, early July.

In the next few days we’ll be reassessing what traveling on Juliet will look like as we reopen. Not too much will change – our sanitation protocols were already in line with CDC guidance – but some things will as we adjust to abide by local and federal requirements to open our doors and remain in operation. We ask for your help and thank you in advance for keeping us compliant if you are coming on board this summer.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words, encouragement, and overall understand and compassion these past few months. This virus might be terrible and confusing, but it has shone a light on the good that is in the world through all of your kindnesses.

Fair winds.

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When are you going to open again!?

We are just as antsy as anyone to get back out on the water, and believe us, we are ready to go at a moment’s notice. But there are a few things standing in our way.

While most of the state of Florida is resuming business as usual in early May, the city of Miami is keeping non-essential businesses closed as of this writing until further notice. That puts a bit of a damper on us being able to dock the boat (marinas are considered non-essential), never mind board passengers, provision, etc. Once that is lifted…

The Bahamas has extended it’s State of Emergency until May 30. This means no visitors, sea ports are closed to all private vessels except essential trade, and all hotels and resorts are closed until further notice. They have released a 5-phase plan for reopening the country, and tourism falls into phase 5. There is no time-table set, though some family islands are in phase 1b as of this writing.

If Miami reopens but the Bahamas doesn’t, we can just go to the Florida Keys, right? Not exactly. The Keys will remain closed to tourists and visitors through the end of May at least. Plus Keys trips only work in close-to-perfect weather, which is never guaranteed. It’s a good alternative, not a great only option.

But we don’t touch land, so can’t we go either location because we’re so low risk? Yes, we’re lower risk than most tourism, but if something were to go wrong – we had a medical or mechanical emergency – we would have a long, slow haul back to Miami or risk putting an undue burden on a location that has made it explicitly clear they are not prepared for visitors.

This is hard. This is frustrating. But this will change and we will feel the wind on our face and the salt water on our dive suits as soon as we are able. Hang in there!

Fair winds.

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Stay Safe and Sound – a COVID-19 Update

We hope you are all staying healthy and safe and have a good support system to get you through this event. As you might have assumed, we were unable to run any charters in April this year. The governor of Florida issued a state-wide “Stay at home” order for the entire month of April, expiring April 30. There are also federal regulations against gatherings of 10 or more people through April 30, Miami has shut down all non-essential businesses, and Juliet has been denied dockage anywhere for the duration of the local Miami emergency order due to all marinas being ordered closed, no exceptions. Add to that the Bahamas has a instituted a complete travel ban (tourists and Bahamian Citizens), and south Florida has put restrictions on all recreational boating.

Obviously we are at the mercy of all of that, plus the fact that it continues to be much safer for everyone to stay home and try to reduce the spread to allow our health care systems to keep up. Whether or not any of that will change come May…? We’ll leave that to the experts, and will sit and await that decision. While we’re hopeful we can all get out of the house and out on the water soon but we are also realistic that it may not be an option. If you are traveling with us this May and haven’t already heard from us or your dive shop that is organizing your trip, please feel free to get in touch, our office is open and here to answer your questions.

If you’re curious about where Juliet is now: after returning to Miami on April 3, the boat made the long trip around to the Gulf side of Florida near where the owner lives to ride out the chaos until the world is safely open for business again. Juliet and her skeleton crew (including Rico!) are safe and sound anchored in a protected canal, and have a couple of alligator friends who visit them regularly to keep them company.

We appreciate all of your kind notes, phone calls, and social media engagement, it’s bringing smiles to our faces. We’ll get back out on the water soon, but until then please stay safe and healthy and smart.

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Trying to get home

To our Juliet Family;

We are all well-aware of the global situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As of right now, we have no plans to cancel any upcoming charters but things are changing daily and we fully expect to reevaluate that plan when the boat returns to Miami after the Repositioning trip.

Juliet and crew are currently on their way back from Puerto Rico to Miami. They will be traveling through the Bahamas to return to Miami by April 3. By then we will have an idea of how the Bahamas is handling the pandemic in terms of international vessel travel, and how the US and Miami are handling US-flagged vessel entries and where the world stands on the pandemic. It also give 2 weeks’ time for things to change, and by now we all know a lot can happen in two weeks – some of us we went from “Things are mostly fine!” to “Don’t leave your house, your entire state is in lock down” in a matter of 8 days. While we would like to hope things will look much better by then, we realize that’s an optimistic and possibly unrealistic expectation.

We completely understand that some of you may be considered At-Risk, you have loved ones at home you are trying to keep safe, you are trying to keep your community safe, and/or you physically cannot get on board due to travel restrictions. If you have plans to travel with us between now and April 20, please contact me and we will do what we can to turn the situation around and get you rescheduled. We are working with folks on a case-by-case basic starting with our first three Bahamas trips in April. If you have plans to travel with us in beyond those dates, we know the uncertainty is painful but we ask you to please be patient while we handle the trips that come before yours.

Thank you for your support, patience, and understanding in these crazy-feeling and uncertain times. Support your neighbors and your local businesses as much as you can while we all wait for the dust to settle, and don’t forget to revisit pictures from your previous diving trips to get out of your own head for a bit and get your mind underwater. We’ll be posting lots of links to virtual aquarium tours and other fun distractions on social media in the coming days to try to help.

Please stay safe, healthy, and sane,
Everyone at Juliet Sailing and Diving

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