Since we left our home port of Melbourne in early 2011, we haven’t stayed in one place longer than three months. Typically a long stay means major works on Blue Heeler. As much as I like Whitehaven, we’ve been here now for nine months, which also means we haven’t been sailing since end of August 2019. But we are the lucky ones.
Other sailors are land-locked on their vessels in French canals, with no way of escaping; many are stranded in the Maldives or Caribbean, hoping to be able to sail to a safe latitude before the hurricanes roll in for the season. For the sake of their small populations, the Pacific Islands are closed to yachties. A recent article in the Guardian highlights the extraordinary challenges faced by sailors around the globe.
It’s reported that around 500 vessels are heading northeast from the Caribbean across the Atlantic to Europe, cutting short their sailing adventures to return to the relative safety of their homelands. Crossing oceans is dangerous and any under-prepared sailor attempting a crossing will be faced with a myriad of problems, usually the least of which is entry into a country. A safe harbour is critical to a weary sailor coming in from a perilous voyage so it’s a real problem for many sailors.
So, what have we been up to? Not much. I’ve been busy chronicling our voyages into watchable YouTube clips. I have thousands of photos so it’s been a major task remembering all of the places we’ve been. If you’re interested in our trip from New York to Alabama through the inland waterways, I’ve finally uploaded a playlist on that trip. I’m currently finishing off our 2014 Indian Ocean trip too (yes, 2014). Plus there’s some more recent vids too. Wayne is quietly going mad reading anything to keep his mind occupied. A 12m boat is a very small space…
With no countries near us likely to fully open this summer, there’s little we can do for now. Scotland is closed so anchoring up in the islands is a no-go. Ireland requires 14-days of self-isolation before stepping ashore, and most marinas as closed too. The Isle of Man remains closed for the time being with no reopening in the foreseeable future. A lot of our boat work is done too so there’s only a few smaller jobs to tick off the list. The longer we stay though the items miraculously appear on the ‘to-do list’. We had thought of going to Iceland but we’d have to self-isolate for 14 days or have a COVID19 test before we could step ashore. The Faroe Islands are closed for now too. The marina is allowing people to visit their boats, but no-one is allowed to stay overnight, except people with no option, like us.
If I could click my heels three times and say “There’s no place like home”, and end up in Australian waters, I would do it in a heartbeat.
But for now, we continue the waiting game. The remnants of Tropical Storm Arthur broke our sunny spell, but the end of next week looks like warmer weather. There are few hours of darkness here now, as nautical twilight begins around 3am and finishes towards midnight.
Stay safe everyone.
The photo at the top and those below are from Lizard Island in 2011 – happier times…