Testing times – Covid and Substances

Testing times – COVID-19 and Substances

I mean this in several ways.

Firstly, the challenges and fears we face as COVID 19 brings illness to family, friends, crew mates and the effect on the global economy. Yachting is for the most part an overhead for an Owner with no financial return and a cost that can be cut. Sadly, hardware, supplies, and fuel are necessities for a yacht operation, and the crew (workforce) is viewed by some as an expendable commodity. We noticed an initial knee jerk reaction in March/April where some salaries were cut, and crew numbers were reduced. This however; resulted a spike in hiring for May, June and July as restrictions were eased and cruising could take place.


COVID Testing

Initially we saw a rush to get crew on/off and guests onboard, which led to some tests on the market that were uncertified. We all have heard stories of yachts buying tests that were released which were not approved. The question of testing comes up with us as we are part of the chain in moving crew around. Not being experts ourselves, we seek out advice and direct to experts who know what they are supplying and how the testing should be handled. We now have a vaccine now on the horizon as announced this week, bringing some much-needed hope.

Rob Da Silva of Dark Blu with a history of supplying and carrying out drug and substance testing onboard Superyachts (we’ll get back to that testing), supplies Panbio COVID-19 Testing Covid Test (Nasal Swab) one of two recommended by the World Health Organisation. He informs me a test is also available where a sample is taken from the human waste tank, yes the blackwater tank. This will show if COVID is onboard, over testing crew individually (not a job I fancy!) His contact details are at the bottom of this blog if needed. Moving quickly on from COVID testing of the waste tank…


Drug and Substance Testing

Still very common, sadly crew continue to fail drug tests, resulting in dismissals for gross misconduct. We know it is wrong, it has been discussed a hundred times but is still present in yachting. Captains we approach for references are often open about dismissals for such an event. This makes it very difficult for that crew member to find their next position. One question, How long should this have an impact on someone’s career? a few years or indefinably? I’d like to know your thoughts.

I was amazed further to find out that again the blackwater tank can be tested to see if drugs are in the system. This will only tell you have a substance user onboard and not who, but would be a good starting ground if there are any suspicions.

Finally, I’m interested to know how Captains tackle a suspicion of substances being used onboard……

Which types of test do you use? – urine, nail or hair sample? And which do you put faith in knowing a career is on the line and potential criminal act has occurred. The conversation has occurred many times about reporting to flag, insurers and COC governing bodies. Keen to know your thoughts on this. Another question, How long should this have an impact on someone’s career? a few years or indefinitely? I’d like to know your thoughts – Liam@wilsonhalligan.com