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Pacific COVID update

by Island Cruising NZ 21 Dec 2021 15:16 NZDT
Pacific Covid update © Island Cruising NZ

The NZ border is still closed unless you are a NZ Registered vessel, with NZ crew or have an exemption. Fiji, New Caledonia and French Polynesia are planning on re-opening their borders to vaccinated sailors.

More details below...

New Zealand

The borders are still closed unless you are a NZ registered vessel with NZ crew or if you have an exemption.

When sailing to NZ, people should plan their journeys so that as much of the isolation period (10 days) as possible can be completed at sea. If the vessel arrives prior to having observed 7 days of isolation, everyone on board will be required to go into a Managed Isolation Facility (MIF) in Auckland. For those arriving on day 7, the remaining days can be observed on board at Opua port in Northland.

The 10-day self-isolation period begins following the last point of departure or contact the vessel has had with anyone that is not already on board.

A small number of New Zealanders have indicated that they may return home to New Zealand from Australia by yacht, and may take passengers on board in order to avoid time in an MIQ facility by serving their 14-day self-isolation period in the Tasman. It is a breach of New Zealand's Maritime Transport Act to charge any passengers that may join a vessel for this purpose.

The safety of everyone on board should be top priority. Vessels need to be adequately crewed for the voyage while the vessel and equipment on board must also meet safety standards. Skippers must comply with Australian Maritime Safety Authority regulations to receive the necessary clearance before departing, such as ensuring passenger numbers comply with the boat's capacity and safety equipment. Vessels must also comply with any regulations that may apply from the vessel's country of registration.

Anchoring off the coast is not permitted.

NZ - Biosecurity Reminder Remember you need to ensure that your hull is clean and free from any marine growth before you arrive in New Zealand.

Fiji

Fiji is opening their border to international travellers and sailors from December 2021.

They are looking forward to welcoming us on the Pacific Circuit Rally next year.

Vanuatu

All ports of entry are closed until further notice. But we also have plans under way to visit Vanuatu on our rally next year if the borders reopen. Watch this space!

Cook Islands

While the Air border is reopening, the Cook Islands Maritime border is still closed. People who have been in New Zealand for 14 days can fly in to the Cook Islands without quarantine.

New Caledonia

The borders to New Caledonia remain closed until further notice. But they are also anticipating being open in 2022. Plans for the Groupama Regatta are under way and they are also looking forward to welcoming the Pacific Circuit Rally in 2022.

Tonga

Tonga's maritime border is closed until further notice.

Samoa

International borders remain closed until further notice.

Australia

The maritime border is closed. Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can enter Australia by sea. All crew must be isolated in mandatory quarantine accommodation for 14 days on arrival. You must provide arrival information in advance.

Down Under Rally and the Ocean Cruising Club have been working with an agent in Australia to get safe haven exemptions.

For more information click here.

Niue

The Niue border is closed to all yachts until further notice.

French Polynesia

Boats with fully vaccinated crew can enter French Polynesia. If you are interested in sailing to French Polynesia next year, please let us know.

International Cruisers in Europe with Boats in NZ

Non-NZ citizens are still not permitted to enter NZ via air to access their boats. Some have chosen to ship their vessels home or sell them here in NZ. Others continue to wait for the borders to reopen.

Join Sailors with Covid Immigration Issues NZ Facebook group for more information.

COVID confusion

Yachties have been getting increasingly frustrated by some of the conflicting, changing and confusing rules relating to boating in recent times. While we are all very supportive of trying to suppress the transmission of Covid with rules that make sense, the rules around sailing didn't, and they were more restrictive than those on land. We've been helping to support some of the great work that Yachting New Zealand does in this space advocating on behalf of sailors with various Government Departments.

Aucklanders heading for their fourth month of lockdown, many are desperate to get out on the water and enjoy some time cruising for the sake of their mental health. People want to move across the regional and national borders to check on or move their boats. I've been contacted by literally hundreds of people in Australia so desperate to get home they are considering buying boats to get across the Tasman due to lack of space in MIQ. International sailors overseas are becoming increasingly concerned about the state of their boats that they've been unable to return to for nearly two years!

Here are some of the crazy incomprehensible rules that have thankfully just changed to allow people out of Auckland for summer. However it was frustrating to note that many of the rules appeared to ignore good seafaring and/or public health practice of anchoring when tired, planning a safe passage, maintaining social distances, and simple common sense.

  1. If you are flying in to New Zealand from the 14th November, you'll only have to spend 7 days in MIQ, but if you are sailing in to NZ, the requirement was still 14 days and this has only just reduced to 10 days. This is another ridiculous rule with total disregard to good seamanship practice. Less time at sea means less fatigue, less chance of making poor decisions and less chance of being caught in bad weather conditions.

  2. You weren't allowed to sleep on your boat. Why? Surely the risk of being on a boat overnight in your household bubble and isolated away from other people is less risk than being in a city having a picnic? Plus I'd imagine there are very few rescues required from boats at anchor than there would be for people out boating in general? With the Auckland region closing in on 90% double Covid vaccination, surely potential mask-wearing rescuers are outdoors, double vaccinated, and thus at minimal risk anyway?

  3. Not being allowed to say out overnight surely creates more boat movements in and out of the marina and mooring areas, at mooring dinghy parks on the shore, and more chances to interact with other people on the dock and on the shore.

  4. You are only allowed to go boating with people from a single household bubble, but if you are at home you are currently allowed to have 10 people from 2 bubbles if you are outdoors (and don't let your visitors use your toilet!!). Or you can exercise and go to essential shops (like food and pharmacy) with random strangers, but you aren't allowed to go sailing with your crew or friends?

Boats traversing between Northland and the Bay of Plenty were not allowed to travel through Auckland waters - and must stay 12NM offshore, they get a little compensation being allowed to come a little closer in as they navigate - still to the East of Great Barrier - bringing way more risk of unsuitable weather, longer travel time, and in the event of an emergency, rescue services have much further to travel to assist a disabled vessel.

If you have any suggestions for sensible future rules for boating in a Delta Covid world, do please email me at . We are working with others, and are very supportive of all the work Yachting NZ does on getting suggestions to the powers-that-be so let's get all those brilliant ideas out on the coach roof.

Thanks also to North NZ Boating Education for their amazing support on this cause too.

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