Sailing plans in a pandemic world

Nov. 2, 2020.

Sailors love to swap stories! We all have  some near-crisis stories, and sailors find sailing crisis stories fascinating.  Pierre and I have our share of true sailing stories: rescuing another boat stranded on a crashing reef in the dark (several times!), helping a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean with an engine room fire.  We’ll save those stories for another time… today’s story is about a change of plans this year, a story without at-sea drama. Just a fall on a boat safely tied to a dock in Boston harbor.   

We have evening routines on board with our dog Tiller, either training or playing. Tiller likes to be chased by Pierre, and the two often run around the boat at wild speeds. It was getting dark in late October, and Pierre was chasing Tiller  and tripped on an electrical cord running over a hatch. He dislocated his shoulder because his arm went on the wrong side of the lifeline as he fell on the deck. 

One thing I have learned from Pierre is the rule of three. When there are three things stacking up against you, time to re-assess and alter course.  After Pierre dislocated his shoulder, we decided to stay north this winter rather than travel south to Antigua.  In this decision we considered the uncertainties of more  border closures this winter because of Covid-19, the risk of another dislocation if we sailed before Pierre’s arm is  completely healed, the risk of frequent flying, and family considerations. 

The pandemic has unleashed a different world where it is challenging to know what the next year will bring. Rather than regrets of staying in the cold this winter, we are happy with this decision.  We’ve done plenty of long-distance passages, including a round-the-word, so it is not too disappointing to miss a trip south in this strange pandemic year. Cruising would be different this winter, even in the warmer climate of the Caribbean.  We are surrounded by uncertainty on many levels.

Part of cruising is making fast friends during an evening of laughter and conversation with like-minded people, and we often see new friends  again on the water when  sailing in the same direction. This winter there will be the mask-wearing physical reminder of how socially detached we should remain to stay safe, especially in a foreign country.  People have different tolerances for socializing and travel because of health reasons, age, or politics, and the new normal is still not normal. Yes, it is a strange year, and in my opinion, will continue to be such for the winter cruising season and longer.  So, this winter BioTrek will be tucked in on land and shrink wrapped, and Pierre and I will be visiting family and planning our spring sailing. Look for lots of “how to” videos on our BioTrek-sailing YouTube station!

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