Even though the yellow flag is called the ‘quarantine flag’ I do not believe it has been used in its official capacity for a long long time, normally we fly the yellow flag when we arrive in a new country to signal that we have not yet officially checked in and as soon as we have our passport stamps we get it down and replace it with the country flag . Right now I see more and more ships flying the yellow flag to state they are still in their quarantine period of 14 days.
Today marks day 15 of our ‘quarantine’ period, and this wasn’t even an ‘official’ quarantine period for us ! we arrived back on Blue Pearl on March 8th just before Panama and other countries started to impose rules to prevent the rapid spread of the Corona virus . We however put into place our ‘own’ quarantine as we arrived back either recovering from a flu or just getting a flu. Luckily for us we all recovered and are ‘good to go’ , just without anywhere to actually go .
During the last 8-10 days we have witnesses more and more stringent rules being put into place here in Panama, it started with a ban on sales of alcoholic drinks , a curfew from 5am to 9pm to closing down roads and as of yesterday restrictions on who can be out at any given time based on the last digit of their identity card . For example if your identity card end on a 6 you can get groceries at 6pm for an hour , leave the house at 5:30pm and be back in your house at 7:30pm
Flights out of Panama have been cancelled for now but I just received an email from the Dutch Embassy that they were able to arrange 2 last flights out and back to The Netherlands, one on the 26th of March and one on the 29th of March for people that want to go ‘home’ in The Netherlands. Currently we have no plans to go ‘home’ other than stay at ‘home’ here on Blue Pearl , home is where the heart lies , right ? And is The Netherlands really the place to be right now ? I understand that you would want to go back if you were stranded here during a vacation or maybe a business trip and you’re longing to be back with your family at home . We however have our home and family right here , so for now we don’t see any reason to want to get a place on these flights out (besides , I have heard they are horrendously expensive)
Also sailing back to Europe right now is , for us at least, not a very attractive option . Most of the countries we would have to stop for water/diesel/food are closed or closing down and what would we do in Europe anyway ? Its cold , movement is restricted , and for now we’re quite happy where we are and we actually prefer to be here than trying to make our way back east . Hopefully in the near future the San Blas will open again , or the Bocas where we havent been yet . We’ll see and take it week by week .
Yesterday I briefly talked to the Marina manager here in Linton bay and he told me yachts from in and outside Panama are still welcome here , as long as they adhere to a 14 day quarantine period which can be done in either the marina itself or anchored out. After that period they can officially check in and do all the paperwork. This situation might probably change as well , as every rule seems to change daily right now but for now the sea border does not seem to be completely ‘closed’ as many other countries have done. The Panama canal however is closed for all boats <65 ft so even if we wanted to go to the Pacific side thats not going to happen any time soon.
There are a few other (Dutch) cruisers as well here in Linton and everyone is assisting each other every way they can while still keeping a healthy distance but the atmosphere is , as you can understand, ‘weird’ and not what we are used to , its a long waiting game with no end in sight.
“Our” local fruit and veggie truck still makes his round every day or every other day so we are still able to buy fresh from him and an occasional chicken or piece of beef. Sadly I haven’t seen the guy that comes by selling alcohol but that’s probably because of the sales ban ? we’ll see and ration what we have 😉
We are keeping busy ourselves as well , doing some chores , some maintenance , keeping everything running , boat schooling the girls , playing some games , watching tv shows and movies and luckily we have a place in the Marina with wifi , power and water , all in all what we’re experiencing is not all that bad . An Ocean crossing has less creature comforts 😉
I am just reminded of a saying I heard somewhere and it never rings more true than right now
“Plans you make for your sailing trip are written on the beach in wet sand and with an incoming tide”