Snowbirds coming home amid the COVID crisis

Points East Magazine is kind of sneaky. They requested content from people who have written for them to be added to their Quarantine Files section of their website. Asking for free contributions from writers who cannot resist… Sneaky! I can call myself a professional writer because of Points East Magazine. They have paid me (a little) to publish my writing in their magazine. This is the only definition of a professional writer, having been paid. Talent is not relevant, being paid is. No matter how little.

Anyway, this is what this writer is up to in the age of Covid-19: Still cruising. We are snowbirds. We spent the winter aboard our boat on a mooring in Marathon, Florida as is normal for us. We started back north just before Covid media coverage went to 24/7. The country was still in denial about the serious potential. I have to have a monthly medical treatment that stretches over two days. On day one at the Miami area clinic I go to in the winter it was business as usual, on day two there were restrictions on visitors and virus transmission protocols were in place. This was the first week of March.

Daily passages on the ICW and the near shore ocean had some boating traffic but not much. It was a little early for the snowbird migration at that point. By the time we got to mid and more northern Florida social isolation was just starting. Masks and gloves were not common yet but did not draw stares anymore. We went offshore from St. Augustine to Georgetown (Winyah Bay) to avoid Georgia all together. Remember when that controversy dominated the boating news? Way back in February?

We started back going north on the ICW. Our first stop was Osprey Marina. A previous Quarantine poster mentioned their stop there. We were the first this season. They did not have their usual goodie- bag prepared. I praised  our previous gift bags (I may have whined/begged a bit) and they made one up for me. They even included the peanuts you used to be able to munch on when the lounge was open to the public. Going up the ICW we stopped at more marinas than usual because we wanted to be sure our fuel tanks were topped up. We were concerned marinas would start to be closed ahead of us. Very few were closed (mostly in Maryland) and fuel was plentiful and cheap. New Jersey was the only State with high priced fuel. There were very few snowbirds on the road with us. We went days without seeing another boat underway.

In general our social isolation was only slightly more isolating than our normal cruise north. There was nothing to do ashore except for well planned and PPE enhanced trips to grocery stores anyway. A car trip from Annapolis to Connecticut for more medical treatment was filled with paranoia as we had to go into public spaces nearer to people for the first time in a month or more. In Connecticut. During peak danger. Better to stay on the boat. No need to wipe everything with bleach or wear PPE there. We will be in Connecticut shortly where we will simply be socially isolated on the boat in more familiar waters.

All our boating experiences are documented at or in past issues of Points East.

Mike Camarata