23 April, 2020
The controversy and damage caused by cruise ships during the Covid-19 pandemic should not impede superyachts from travelling between ports to reach marinas and shipyards, where maintenance work can provide a much-needed stimulus to trades. Craig Martin, Captain of 60m CRN superyacht Ramble on Rose, explains how his yacht has been kept successfully in isolation at Brisbane-based shipyard Rivergate, demonstrating why the care and smaller scale of superyachts should allow for more industry specific travel restrictions than those imposed on very large passenger vessels.
Restrictions on travel have been necessary measures in order to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, especially after major outbreaks on cruise ships carrying large numbers of people. Unfortunately, superyachts have been the collateral damage of legislation in some countries put in place to prevent further cruise ship disasters.
An ability to operate in isolation, completely detached from crowds to provide private treatment for a small number of guests is the foundation of superyacht travel. In this scenario, the risk of spreading the virus can be almost eliminated and is certainly not comparable to cruise ships. The care given by professional crew make superyachts one of the most hygienic ways to travel in any circumstance, and much of the 14-day quarantine period can be conducted during travel between ports, which would not be the case on passenger vessels with crew numbers over a thousand. With the safety and security of these yachts in mind, allowing yachts to enter and move between ports should be considered in terms of the business opportunities that will be brought to the extensive superyacht supply chain.
Captain Craig Martin sought to isolate Ramble on Rose as a precaution to protect the safety of his crew when the Covid-19 situation escalated last month. With work already planned at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard, he explains how Outbreak Prevention & Response procedures put in place have allowed the work to proceed in a safe manner, while even providing extra business opportunities for surrounding trades.
Speaking to Superyachts.com, Captain Craig was full of praise for the attentiveness of the shipyard management and staff. “It stems from my dealings with Steve Fisher [Rivergate Director of International Business] initially,” said Craig. “He has respected the fact that we have taken the policy to self-isolate in the interests of crew safety. He’s been communicative of all their policies and procedures, which have been in-line and maybe even in-excess of government requirements, which I really appreciate. Rivergate has been proactive in trying to help us organise other works which don’t involve people coming onboard, so anything we can farm out externally.”
With safety and security as a priority, Rivergate has arranged complete isolation for Ramble on Rose through the implementation of careful procedures and even the installation of a secure gate. “Steve said it was possible for us to separate ourselves further from other boats in the marina, and organised for a lockable gate so we really do have the dock to ourselves, giving us control over who can come. We get our provisions delivered, which are dropped outside the gate and disinfected. The people who come are respectful, wear their masks, gloves and PPE, as do we.”
While in isolation, much of the scheduled work is still able to be completed. Pre-arranged pick-up times have allowed contractors to safely collect parts left outside the gate to Ramble on Rose, where crew can keep to social distancing while explaining any issues.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on the thousands of businesses throughout the superyacht industry, but there may be some positives to take should superyacht be able to get to shipyards.
“We don’t want to be sitting here idle,” admits Craig, “and it gets to a point where there are things that we could be getting done ashore, and not doing it in an opportunity like this seems counter-productive. We are in a position where we’re reviewing more things since we have the time. For instance, we had ABC planned, but we’ve now proposed doing DEF.
“I imagine over the course of our stay, as long as this lockdown goes on, there will be additional works added to the job list we wouldn’t have had the time to undertake otherwise.”
Ramble on Rose serves as an example of how a superyacht and crew can remain perfectly in isolation when arriving into a new destination and port. With so much disruption already being felt by businesses, the opportunity for continued works on superyachts is a shimmer of light as the world comes through this unprecedented crisis.