Social Distancing In Antigua On Board Sava

Social distancing in Antigua at anchor

The spread of a worldwide pandemic has sent everyone scrambling, including we who live on sailboats. For cruisers who needed to be somewhere for hurricane season, Covid-19 has caused havoc. This is why we are social distancing in Antigua on board Sava.

Cruising Season

The Caribbean cruising season runs from late October to early July. The rest of the year is hurricane season, when we hunker down or leave our boats somewhere safe and hope for the best. For us, safe is below latitude 12.4, which is why we spent last hurricane season in Grenada.

As the pandemic occurred during cruising season, we are in a state of limbo, scared and trying to take the changes day by day. We have until late June to get our boat somewhere safe or on the hard.

Stop Making Plans

As you may know, we spent the early part of the Caribbean cruising season revisiting the islands we rushed through last year. We arrived in Antigua in late January with plans to explore a bit, visit Montserrat for St. Paddy’s and then make our next move.

At that time, we were 90% sure we would head to Bonaire, followed by Colombia and Panama for hurricane season, if all went right. One of the tenets of cruising is you can’t make plans; Covid-19 made sure of that.

Most countries’ borders are shut, with no sign of when that will change.

Caribbean Closures

Bonaire and its neighboring islands, “the ABCs,” closed their borders a few weeks ago, followed quickly by other Caribbean countries.

At that point, we decided to stay in Antigua, and we had lots of good reasons. One, Antigua is safe and welcoming to cruisers. Two, Antigua has good resources and the stores are well stocked. Three, there are many different anchorages here so we won’t get bored with our environment. Four, English is the main language and is our language. This makes a difference in an emergency situation. We had friends who left Guadeloupe partly because they don’t speak French. Five, Antigua welcomed us and we didn’t want to risk leaving and not being allowed in somewhere else. Finally, and significantly, a lot of fellow cruisers are here. It eases our minds to have that network of friends, who will help us just as we will them if the call comes.

Cruisers Are Scattered

We know cruisers who are riding this out in almost every island in the eastern Caribbean. Some chose their location and some got stuck.

Some of our cruiser friends decided to leave their boats in the Caribbean and fly home to be with family (after their 2 week quarantines) before flights stopped. We said goodbye to people flying home to Ireland, England and Belgium.

Many of our friends rushed to the USVIs or mainland US in the last weeks. As American citizens, they would prefer to be on their own soil, some to be near family, but also because they can’t get kicked out of their own country. As Canadians, we didn’t want to risk it. Sure, Sava is a registered US boat, and I am an American citizen, but Brian isn’t. The last thing we want is to be rejected with nowhere to go or separated in this crisis. Whatever happens, we are together.

Each island is handling this differently. The French islands have been under quarantine for weeks with an undetermined end. Cruisers can’t leave their boats unless it’s an emergency, and beaches and restaurants are closed.

social distancing in antigua

Here in Antigua, with 7 cases of Covid-19 confirmed, gatherings over 25 are banned, restaurants are closed, and the borders are now shut. We are fortunate that essential services for boaters are all still open: we can get groceries, boat parts and fuel.

Here’s how we spend these days while social distancing onboard Sava.

We know it’s important for our health, sanity and relationship to keep busy and to keep achieving, especially in this time of crisis.


Following the news

Your life right now under quarantine or semi-quarantine is probably very similar to ours. We are confined to our home for much of the day except for essential business. Yes, we are on a boat in a bay in Antigua, but not much else differs.

The spread of the deadly Corona-19 virus and the attempts to thwart it are all over the news and we can’t help getting caught up in the onslaught. We sometimes obsessively read news stories and social media and listen to podcasts until it’s too much. Too much negativity, and sadness and fear. Is anyone else idolizing Rachel Maddow as the voice of reasoned rage we need right now? Her show is available as a podcast and I keep listening.

Cooking and eating

Thanks to some cruiser friends who took the last flight home to the UK before Antigua shut its borders – our pantry is full.

Our fridge is full

We haven’t been to a restaurant in weeks, and we won’t anytime soon now that they are closed. At least we’ve found a positive in this crisis: no money spent eating out.

I am having fun cooking on the boat. We stick with 2 or 3 meals a day, and with all my free time, I am trying new recipes. I made quiche the other day for the first time, which came out pretty good; the filling was delicious but the crust burned a little. We are trying to eat healthy, with lots of fruits and veggies for immunity, but treats are good now and then. I made banana bread with nuts and dark chocolate yesterday, and quesadillas the night before.

salad social distancing
Healthy salad

Cooking and eating only take up so much time, though, if we do it right!

Boat Projects

There are always boat projects. It’s like owning a house and a car in one so there’s always something to do. We have been cleaning and organizing a bit, making water with our amazing watermaker, and more. When we were organizing one of the lazarettes, or storage lockers, Brian found some weird looking pieces of metal. Turned out they are stabilizer fins, which he attached to our dinghy to make it ride smoother and quicker!

locker on a boat
Locker organized


We try to stay active always on Sava and it’s even more important for keeping our immune system up and for our mental health. The stress of a global pandemic makes us anxious and worried. For me, exercise is a good cure for that.

We use the paddleboard and paddle around the bay getting exercise, and we swim and snorkel when weather permits.

We bought this paddleboard in Martinique and love it

Brian scrubs the bottom of the boat while holding his breath which is good cardio for him. I do weight training with my dive weights: things like squats, lunges, rows and curls.

We also try to get to shore and hike up the nearest hills as often as we can, or run and do other activities on the beach.

Social Distancing in Antigua hike
View of Jolly Harbor, Antigua from one of our hikes


It’s hard for us to stream with our internet plans. Up until a week ago, I would download netflix and prime shows when we were somewhere with wifi. That is getting tough with social distancing parameters and bars and restaurants closing. Binging is impossible, so we stick with an hour a day. We finished the latest seasons of The Crown and Narcos and are currently working on Picard with plans to catch up on Ozark next. Happy for recommendations on what you are watching during this social distancing period!

We devour podcasts, both as news sources and entertainment when we can’t take news anymore. They play in the background while we read, cook and work around the boat.

Social media

I imagine social distancing would be much more difficult without the technology we have. Brian and I use our social accounts to keep in touch with friends and family back home, and our cruiser friends. We learn what is happening in the other islands, and on Antigua, through Facebook cruiser groups. Sometimes we are getting conjecture and rumor, but often it is good and useful information. We learned about most of the island closures, including Antigua’s, through these groups.

SociaL distancing is the new normal

We don’t know how long we will stay here, as most of you don’t know how long the malls and concert halls will be closed where you are. What matters is what we do now and in the next few weeks, so we are heeding the rules of the Antiguan government and the words of the experts. All of us are in the same boat, even if yours isn’t called Sava.

How are you handling the pandemic? Share in the comments. Brian and I think and talk about our friends and family everyday. It actually helps knowing we wouldn’t be able to see you even if we were at home. Stay safe and keep washing your hands.

Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, blogging about the places we visit and the adventures we have. Love hiking, cycling, scuba, animals and adventure.

4 thoughts on “Social Distancing In Antigua On Board Sava”

  1. Hello! Happy to read you have a healthy and positive routine in place.
    Here in NYC, we are being mindful and abiding by the social distancing.
    Walks are coveted (and a luxury on some days)
    Lots of stretching. The news is constant and turning it off and listening to music, video calls and words with friends provides much needed laughter and relaxation.
    There is so much creative energy and lots of beautiful connections happening. Daily gratitude and living in the moment:)
    Sending love and hugs!

    1. Thinking of you in NYC and watching your posts. Keep staying positive my friend and I look forward to seeing you again! ????

  2. Hi Melinda – I always enjoy your posts. Glad to hear you and Brian are coping well. Agree that Antigua is a good island to hunker down in for a while.
    s/v Argon accelerated her journey towards home a couple of weeks ago with a series of off shore passages (San Juan to Inagua, Inagua to West Palm Florida, then West Palm to Charleston South Carolina). These off shore passages are tiring but it’s great to be on US soil and closer to home (Newport, RI). We still have a ways to go and even along the east coast of the US we are finding increasing restrictions including some harbors not accepting boats (except to get fuel and perhaps rest; but cannot go ashore).
    We are finding ourselves strangely busy with passage planning and preparations (when we are not off shore sailing) and trying to catch up with work/day jobs when we are in port. We are also staying in very close contact with our kids, other family and friends. Nothing close to boredom here yet.
    Wishing you and Brian safety and comfort!
    Linda and Bob
    s/v Argon

    1. So good to hear from you! Glad you are doing well and hope you get to reunite with family soon – and a much needed rest for you both!

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