Here’s a tough question from a reader: “Could Latitude 38 help clarify the guidelines for the stay-at-home order?” The questioner goes on to say, “The City of Alameda and their police department have no guidelines to follow. In fact, I think the city government just realized that there are thousands of boats that call Alameda home.” With the authority vested in Latitude 38 (which is none), we say “maybe.”
Another comment we’ve seen: “I have carefully read the new version of Marin County’s Shelter in Place Order dated March 31. Section 13.a.iii describes permissible outdoor recreation activity as follows: “To engage in outdoor recreation activity, including, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, bicycling, and running, in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements and with the following limitations…”
The only limitation that may apply to sailing is 13.a.iii.4: “4. Sports or activities that include the use of shared equipment may only be engaged in by members of the same household or living unit.”
Here are our thoughts: Whoever has the unfortunate job of providing these guidelines is as confused as the rest of us. Medical professionals are collecting data and updating guidance faster than any of us can type or read. With this in mind, we don’t think everyone should be thinking, “Is there a ‘loophole’ for sailing? Fishing? Kayaking?” We should all be thinking, “What’s the most important thing to do right now?” To us, that is to support our medical professionals, first responders, neighbors and nation.
We can’t imagine everyone’s unique situation with their sailboat, so we do think it’s possible you can sail or work on your boat. Think about it in the same way you might go for a bike ride, or if working on your boat is like working in your back yard. If you live on your sailboat, as many people do, you are sheltering in place whether you do it in your slip or in Clipper Cove.
That said, we think people should be thinking about the ‘spirit’ of the guidance rather than the letter of the law. Our public servants, doctors, nurses and hospitals are straining under the looming threat. They’re asking us all to take a break for just a few weeks. It’s sunny, it’s springtime, and it’s frustrating. Yet nobody wants to put more strain on those who are charged with our care or whose care we may need. It’s interesting to note that the Craneway Pavilion, where we were all to be attending the Pacific Sail & Power Boat Show in a couple of weeks, is currently being repurposed as a medical station for COVID-19 patients.
As we reminded readers in a ‘Lectronic Latitude earlier in the week, this may just be a time where we experience what sailors in Wisconsin, New York and Maine go through every off-season. We’d rather temporarily take a break than go through what New York is going through right now. We are as anxious as anyone to resume life as normal and get out sailing. However, we’re going to leave it to sailors to make their own decisions based on the best guidance of the day, to live by the intent of the guidance, and to put nation and neighbor first.
We recently heard this under a headline about being ‘tone-deaf’, that David Geffen, who bought Larry Ellison’s megayacht, shared with his 87,000 Instagram followers his escape to the Grenadines on his $590 million yacht to avoid the coronavirus pandemic. The posts created such a backlash among his shocked followers that he has since made his account private.
We all need fresh air, sunshine and exercise to stay healthy. We may need to check on our boats. Perhaps we can go sailing alone or with members of our own households. But just be conscious of the bigger world around us. And don’t post it on Instagram.
Did we clarify anything? We offer it as our opinion and are sure there are others. Be safe and healthy and we’ll see you on the Bay soon enough.