“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
I chanted the phrase and tapped my calloused bare feet together expecting some sort of miraculous teleportation from the grey skies and unrelenting smorgasbord of waves.
Maybe because I don’t have a home…
So, there I was. Slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic.
For the second time in as many months.
In fact, I didn’t even step off the boat between crossings.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the world is suffering some sort of pandemic named after a beer.
And apparently sailors, no matter how many weeks they’ve been self-quarantined for, are a risk.
Obviously, we’d heard about Corona before we left Europe, it was almost impossible not to.
I managed to get whiff of it while residing in a treehouse somewhere just off the edge of the earth
(or so they called it).
People joked about it and scoffed about the apocalypse…
Maybe we shouldn’t have been laughing so much….
After a week of wobbling on a port tack, we arrived in Cape Verde and were rather surprised to be refused entry.
We took a sleepy morning on anchor to regroup.
The first major blow was that there would be no burgers or beer that evening.
The second was that we’d have to do an Atlantic crossing with only the supplies we had aboard: limited fuel, nothing fresh, and no meat
(and no, this was in no form a vegetarian boat).
We started the 1636 mile South Westward journey hoping things would be better on the other side of the ocean.
They were not.
Brazil didn’t want us either…
(now, looking at worldwide statistics, maybe that was a good thing…)
And so, we continued.
…And the other way around (South East), it was a whole lot more ocean to endure (3681 miles)…
We had a scarce selection of books aboard, so it was probably good that the winds and seas kept us busy dancing with the sails and fixing the little things that broke.
Days were hot and beautiful.
And sometimes grey.
Nights were filled with either stars or rainclouds.
The wind dictated our path as we tried to steer as best a course for Cape Town as we possibly could.
Slowly the miles trickled down, and slowly the information trickled in.
Through little bits of satellite connectivity, we started to paint a picture of what we were sailing into.
Words like “pandemic,” “lockdown,” and “social distancing” lined the inbox.
The kind of words that make you think that maybe the ocean really was the best place to be!
But it also made us worry for family and friends around the world!
And it made us wonder just what sort of world we were returning to!
Was everyone we love and care about okay?
How were people surviving worldwide lockdowns?
How were people adjusting to solitude and life at home?
How would people survive the loss of income?
Was this the start of the next financial crisis?
What does this mean for the gypsy travellers who have spent years haphazardly enjoying the globe?
The count-down resumed.
1000 miles to go.
While I’d sat soul searching and finally decided what I’d like to do with my life, the uncertainty of the earth’s current situation made me wonder if it was even possible.
And then the mist finally cleared and after weeks of nothing but blue and rouge passing freighters, we could finally make out the tainted silhouette of land.
A land we all knew well!
We stowed the sails and fired up the engines.
It was the home stretch and we were (or at least the others were) going home!
Fortunately, with three south Africans aboard, we were permitted to enter the port.
And finally, we chugged into a marina and found our allocated quarantine berth and after 52 days aboard the boat, I finally jumped off for the first time to secure our lines.
We hoped and prayed that logic would prevail, but our visiting health professional delivered the sad news that, seeing as we had come from abroad, we had to be quarantined.
Despite our months of solitude, we were sentenced to two more weeks aboard.
Symptoms or no symptoms.
In fact, even if we had come from the furthest outcrops of Antarctica (like a recent vessel), that would be the case.
And here we sit, docked in Cape Town.
Patiently awaiting our release.
We’ve cleaned, sorted and shined the vessel and begun reconnecting through the magic of the interweb.
Friendly smiles have been passed through our fence.
And we’re really appreciating the spectacular views we have of Table Mountain.
The country may still be locked down and alcohol-free, but all of us aboard (three, including myself) can’t wait for ‘freedom” and reconnecting with the loved ones and places surrounding us.
And where is home?
I guess it will be South Africa for a little bit…
Even if I could leave, I wouldn’t be able to without passing around a few air hugs and elbow taps (or whatever it is people do these days)!
And then I guess it’s time to work on those long-term plans.
Corona or no corona, this sea gypsy is very ready to find a home!
[If you happen to be reading this, please do tell me how you are!
How have you endured the madness of this planet?
How is your side of the world?
How is your lockdown? Do you have one?
What does the future look like for you?
I have so many questions, I don’t know where to start!
But I hope that you are well and happy and that despite all the dismal dystopic drama going on, your future is bright!]