Isaac and I have been extremely careful since we first heard about the COVID-19. We stopped going out even before the lock-down and have done our best to stay away from people on our weekend hikes that kept us sane. After such long months of being stuck at home, we finally had a reason to leave – Father’s Day. Plus we were assigned the task of delivering a sign to Isaac’s 92-year-old grandmother. Both Isaac’s dad and grandmother live on Block Island, which we visited yesterday.
Our trip was planned over a week ago. We ordered new masks, bought some hand sanitizer and put together a game plan. Unfortunately, some more spontaneous humans decided to YOLO their way onto the island the weekend that we made the plan. This picture began circulating the news and many family members told us to reconsider the trip.
This is the photo that sparked outrage by Block Islanders that have managed to avoid COVID-19 by severely curbing tourism for months – even though the island’s economy depends on it. So naturally, they were frustrated by people being careless. Although Isaac and I were planning on taking every precaution necessary, it still wasn’t safe unless others did the same. Lucky for us, RI Governor Gina Raimondo acted swiftly.
Since this past weekend was hot and yesterday was the first official day of summer, everyone wanted to go to Block Island. The earliest regular boat on Sunday was already booked when we checked the website. We ended up buying tickets for the high-speed ferry. This ferry is more expensive, smaller and faster which means there are fewer people on it and you spend less time around people. Unfortunately, there was no good option for the speed ferry on our way back so we booked the traditional ferry for our return trip.
Fast Ferry There
We arrived a good 45 minutes in advance to get good seats and there was already a really long line to board. Not just for our high-speed ferry but also for the traditional one, which was leaving 30 minutes after ours and had a much longer line. The good news: everyone was wearing a mask!
Once we were boarded, we managed to get good seats in the outside area. It wasn’t too crowded but there were people within six feet. There were also staff ready to make sure that everyone kept their masks on. No one took them off throughout the entire 30 minute ride!
The other family members who joined us for a socially distanced father’s day BBQ had a similar experience. They were actually sitting inside because it was crowded outside. There was no one on the tables next to them so they took their masks off. Someone came by right away and told them to put them back on.
We waited for most people to get off before we disembarked. People were quite respectful and kept their distance. The moment we got off, we had greeters offer a local guide pamphlet and face masks! It was a great thing to see. There were also signs everywhere about keeping masks on even when outside if you are around people. Everyone seemed to keep them on until the crowd thinned out.
Regular Ferry Back
As expected, the way back was a little rougher. The boat is bigger, the people were rowdier after a day of drinking on the beach, and the ride is almost twice as long. Far fewer people had their masks on and not many seemed to be concerned about distance. We managed to find a great spot and kept our masks on the entire time.
When we were getting off, people were pushy and loud. It would have been stressful even if it wasn’t during a pandemic. It was especially aggravating when we saw someone throw an empty beer can into the water. We didn’t see who exactly threw it, but Isaac yelled loudly enough for everyone to hear and we heard a lot of other disapproving comments.
It wasn’t as bad as the original picture on the news portrayed, but it still could have been a lot better. If you want to visit Block Island, I recommend that you use the high-speed ferry both ways. If you want to avoid the drunk crowd, stay overnight and take an earlier ferry out. Also, go during the week if possible to avoid crowds.
It’s not 100% safe no matter what, but there are precautions you can take to make it a safer journey. Hopefully, they won’t get lax on the regulations, because it makes a huge difference. Also, if you’re only going to BI for the beach, consider visiting a different beach during this time. We only went to Block Island to visit family members and would have stayed off the ferry otherwise.