Wednesday, 01 April 2020 12:50

COVID-19 Sailors Q&A

Sail Nova Scotia is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our member clubs, schools, sailors, staff, volunteers and stakeholders as well as every Nova Scotian in the communities where we live, work and play.

We recognize that these are difficult times for all the clubs and their members, and we are here to support you while ensuring we are following the recommendations from the Department of Health & Wellness.  We continue to monitor the situation closely and to review the impact it will have on our sailing community.   We are actively liaising between our membership, government and our stakeholders to communicate the best available information during these unprecedented times. 

We have created this page to answer some of the questions boaters have as we approach the 2020 season. If you have a question please share it with [email protected] and we will add it to this page and provide an answer.

On Friday, May 1 the Province eased some restrictions. How does it affect yacht clubs?
The first phase of the easing of restrictions allows for yacht clubs and marinas to open to allow members to prepare their boats, however, the State of Emergency is still in effect and social-distancing must be respected. Read the full news release from the province here

New Question: If I don't or can't check on my boat at the yacht club is my insurance void if I need to submit a claim for damage?
We posed that question to Andrew Robertson, Senior Vice-President of Gallagher Skippers' Plan Insurance. This is generic information and may not apply to everyone.  You must contact your insurance adviser to confirm how your policy is affected.

I am not aware of any boat insurance policy that makes it mandatory to inspect the boats in Canada.  We see this condition on boats laid up in the southern USA or Caribbean but not normally in Canada.   It falls to each owner to contact their insurance broker to determine if such a condition exists.
If such a clause does exist the question becomes whether it is reasonable to expect compliance.  No insurance company can expect a person to put their life at risk to safeguard property.  Nor can they expect people to break the law to comply with the terms of their coverage.  If there is an emergency order or recommendation that people stay at home to self-isolate that takes precedence over the insurance contract.    
The insurance companies understand that owners cannot comply with some underwriting requirements due to COVID-19.  Most are being flexible to the greatest extent possible.  Aviva (i.e. Skippers’ Plan) has committed to not cancelling policies for non-payment in the next 90 days if a client has lost their job.  They are pushing back deadlines for surveys by a year and are relaxing other rules on a case by case basis.   Boat owners should be talking to their broker to express any concerns.   They should not be breaching emergency act regulations and recommendations on the assumption it is required for insurance.  The clubs need to be aware of their obligations and liability as an employer and to the members.  They should be contacting their broker to discuss the risk and liability associated with granting access to the property. Class action lawsuits against employers have already started in Canada over their response to COVID-19 and we’ve only been at this for three weeks now.

When do you think Sailing Season will begin?
That is a very good question! As of today, April 2, nobody can say for sure, but we are hopeful we will be sailing this spring. The NS Department of Health & Wellness will be the agency to advise all Nova Scotians when it is safe to resume activities. Sail Canada is currently working on social distancing guidelines for sailors so that when we are in a position to go sailing again we have guidelines on how to do it safely.

When will we know if Regattas are canceled?
For Sail Nova Scotia regattas ie. Boxing Rock Cup and the new Summer Fun Race, a decision will be made at least 2 weeks prior.
For Club Regattas, that decision will fall to the clubs, but we expect at least two weeks prior.
For National and International events such as Opti Nationals, Chester Race Week and Halifax Route St. Pierre those decisions will be made by the Organizing Authorities. We are hearing that 4-6 weeks out is likely their timelime.
We will be working closely with our clubs and as these decisions are made they will be posted on our 2020 Race & Event Calendar here.

Is Sail Nova Scotia Still Offering Instructor Training
Yes! We know that instructors are vital to the success of any club learn to sail program. We are working closely with Sail Canada to offer courses on-line. In fact, the Sail Canada Fundamental Theory course for instructors is now full with 20 candidates. A great sign.

If I register for a course and it is canceled, do I get a refund?
Yes! If we must cancel a course for any reason we will process a refund. We recently canceled the Team Racing Weekend set for early May and all registrants have been issued a refund.

Where can we find Government Information about Funding programs during this pandemic?
Sail Nova Scotia is compiling a webpage with all that information. Information will be added as it becomes available. You can find that page here

I just bought a new boat, Can I still apply for a PHRF-NS Handicap Rating?
Yes you can. The Sail Nova Scotia will continue to meet virtually once a month to rate boats and adjust ratings if an Edit Yacht request is received. To access those forms go here.   

Are there Social Distancing Guidelines for boating yet?
Sail Canada has created a task force including medical professionals to create some. Sea Tow has developed these tips for Social Distancing for power boaters.

What are my club's legal obligations to summer workers?
Sail Nova Scotia is working with a leading Halifax Labour Lawyer, who is a former sailing instructor and President of Sail Nova Scotia to prepare a document with all the information you need to know on this topic. We hope to have these circulated to clubs shortly.