Sailing Long Distances

Colored views

The world is full of goofy jokes about politicians, civil servants, and the burden of taxes. After months in Portugal and having an open eye on what’s going on here when it comes to authorities’ decisions, I’m declined to say, lucky you, who enjoy the jokes. I had neither intention nor any interest in questioning decisions made by Portuguese politicians. Why should I? We talked to neighbor, a former UK fisherman and thus a man of a profound knowledge when it comes to stretch the law to best benefit. He said life in Portugal is splendid, but take my advice, don’t ask too many questions, don’t draw any attention, and let the lion sleep.
I took it for a funny piece of information, and wouldn’t give it another thought when I realized we’re not so far away from strange authorities doings. A newspaper reported twice of an incidence caused by closed borders for vessels coming from abroad. It was too bad for a Dutch couple who didn’t know about the arbitrary act of the half a dozen forces and entered Portugal’s borders. In Portimao, the Dutch went ashore. The maritime police stressed they had to stay in quarantine on the boat for 14 days. The day before completing the quarantine period, they got a call by a representative from Portugal’s health authority who instructed, the Dutch were not allowed to go ashore and had to wait until June 15th. That’s the law, and these are the rules. Basta!
Interested in an unbiased view, I wrote a letter to the editor of the best-known British based ‘noonsite,’ the ultimate cruiser resource, and asked for first-hand news. They did some research on the matter and got back to us two days later. The President of the Cruising Association of Portugal had answered my inquiry and explained it’s complicated because of the overlapping competencies of different entities. Like a goofy joke? Here we are!
The port authority has jurisdiction over movements to and from ports and in the associated anchorages and seaways. However, the last word has the Department of Health, under the emergency legislation at present in force. In the middle are the maritime police, responsible for enforcing the law generally. There is an apparent inconsistency when compared to the situation of passengers arriving by air, which is still permitted from some countries. At present, no distinction is drawn between cruise ships and leisure craft, and this seems to have colored the official view of the issue. Like the Dutch, the unfortunate sailor has to deal with three authorities who enforce the threefold ideals of competence wrangling, inconsistency, and clouded views with the same enthusiasm.