Who would have thought at the time of writing my last blog post that by the time I write the next one most borders in the world would be closed and lives around the world changed for the foreseeable future...
It is strange that all of our family and friends around the world, including us, are in one form or another of a lockdown due to Covid-19, it just shows the scale of it all. We are just fortunate we haven’t personally been affected by losing a loved one - we count our blessings!
For many it’s a strange time spending so much time confined at home with each other, rationing supplies as shelves in supermarkets show gaps and limits on grocery items apply. Who would have thought toilet paper, flour and yeast become the new gold??? People learn to cook with limited supplies, have to improvise as teachers for their kids who started homeschool overnight and have a lot of time to think with all this ‘spare’ time. I feel like the cruising life has prepped us well for this time in our lives!
It reminds me a lot of setting sail and crossing an ocean! When I listened to the announcement of the 4 week lockdown I thought of our longest passage we had done, our Pacific crossing took exactly 28 days from Galapagos to Fatu Hiva. Back then (2006) it was just the two of us on our old boat, a toddler turning one en-route and 420lt of fresh water to last all three of us for showers, drinking and cooking along with provisions for the duration of the crossing. The ‘Corona Passage’ to me seemed not much different with the added bonus of not having to stand shifts/watches and being able to still go get supplies or to stretch our legs and no toddler onboard - piece of cake haha!
NZ went into a full lockdown (Alert Level 4) on the 26th of March for an initial 4-week period which was extended on Monday until the 27th of April. Under this alert level only essential businesses are open and everyone is to stay home except for essential services such as getting food, medical attention or exercise. Strict physical distancing rules apply. For yachties this means we are not allowed to engage in recreational boating or water activities other than getting supplies, moving anchor to seek shelter and/or to empty holding tanks and going for a walk on shore.
On the 28th of April NZ will move to Alert Level 3, which allows businesses to open again provided they can do so safely with no face-to-face contact.It basically allows the economy to get back on its feet slowly while still adhering to strict physical distancing. Recreational boating is still off limits under this alert level but we should be able to use our kayaks and get to enjoy more activities like that again which will be a bonus! Alert Level 3 will be reviewed after two weeks and hopefully NZ keeps up with it’s ‘eliminate the virus’ campaign and life will feel more normal with each week thereafter!
So where to from here? I feel it’s the ‘How long is a piece of string’ kind of question! We have our eyes peeled on noonsite and follow closely what’s happening not only here in NZ but in our South Pacific neighbourhood and especially in Fiji. At this stage there are no options to spend the cruising season in the islands as all borders are closed but local groups are lobbying both here and overseas to allow yachts to enter as the tourism industry is hardest hit and those travelling by sea could provide a stream of income from tourism for countries while limiting risk considering most yachts spend nearly two weeks at sea prior to their arrival at their next port of call.
If and when this becomes an option we would be quite keen to set sail north with a pit stop in Minerva Reef to sit out any quarantine time there, however at present this is more wishful thinking than a plan until border restrictions ease. Until then we will stay put in NZ and earn some more coins for our cruising kitty!
Unfortunately our awesome trips we had planned for the season have all evaporated in front of us and it’s quite hard to predict when international travel will be possible again. Depending on how long this may take, we may have to change our plans for the future accordingly. Our plans of sharing the experience and the cost has been hugely impacted of course. Like everyone we don’t know what lies ahead and while we keep guessing, all we can do is wait and see and most of all hope and dream!
Here is what I’m dreaming of, those moments surrounded by nothing but the blue ocean, sailing along powered by the wind, from one slice of paradise to another...