SA offers yachts in Covid-19 lockdown safe passage ahead of cyclone season
Marine authorities open Durban, Cape Town and Richards Bay to sailors
SA has offered visiting yachts a temporary reprieve from stringent Covid-19 lockdown regulations that had prevented port entry and left many stranded at various Indian Ocean locations ahead of the cyclone season.
Yachts will be allowed a “safe corridor” and access to services at three South African ports — Richards Bay, Durban and Cape Town — between November 9 and December 15, the South African Maritime Safety Authority confirmed in a notice last week.
The notice follows an outcry from several sailing stakeholders after cruising yachts were being denied immigration clearance and access to vital services because of the Covid-19 regulations that make no provision for disembarkation of visiting crews. Permission has now been obtained to allow yachts into SA “as a once off project” on humanitarian grounds, the notice said. “SA will offer a safe corridor and humanitarian services to yachts stranded along the Indian Ocean from November 9 to December 15. Yachts falling within this category must use only yacht clubs in the ports of Richards Bay, Durban and Cape Town,” Samsa said. “All yachts will be eligible to receive all services including stores, provisioning, refuelling, repairs, maintenance and disembarkation of foreign sailors.”
The notice said the issue of stranded yachts has become topical in the past months and is a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic that had dire consequences for the ocean-cruising community.
“This community uses a wide range of yachts or small pleasure craft to navigate the oceans and who primarily sail the world’s oceans as a way of life,” Samsa said. “As a response to Covid-19 many countries around the world closed their borders, making it extremely difficult for sailors to proceed with their traditional voyages along the Indian Ocean. The current weather pattern along the Indian Ocean is posing a huge risk to yachts and sailors,” the notice said.
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