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Covid-19: Where we are at (original post from March 23rd, 2020)

I wanted to write this blog for a couple of reasons.  One to document and also to give some clarity to anyone who is unsure of why we don't just come straight home.  There are many moving parts contributing to our decision making.

We are currently in La Cruz.  We arrived here about five days ago.  Earlier than planned.

It was only a mere week ago that we were casually pulling into a place called Chacala with our usual excitement of exploring a new place.  

Of course we knew about this virus through news with spotty reception and from our friends and family from various places all over the world.  But we were still feeling unaffected partially because we are removed, on remote islands with minimal outside world influence and because Mexico really wasn’t abuzz with panic yet. For some reason Mexico has taken a lax approach.

We couldn’t tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing. We still don’t know how to feel about the seemingly lack of concern here in Mexico.  The mood seemed to change more and more each day in Chacala.  The beach was clearing out.  People were clearing out of hotels and retreats were being cancelled.  

Eavesdropping on conversations you could hear the buzz starting.

But still, people were shaking hands and standing close to each other.  There was an arts and music festival in Chacala which attracted hundreds of people.  A band rocked out Gypsy Kings covers while people danced with strangers.  It was fun… with a mild underlying feeling of uncertainty. 

We stayed there for 5 days until we decided perhaps we should just get to La Cruz to gather more information as our departure date at the end of April was quickly approaching and we wondered how this virus was affecting things. Kyles family was scheduled to come for a week at the end of March and our friend from home was coming to do the crossing to Hawaii with us at the end of April. Would they be coming? Would we be going?  If no, what happens then?  What exactly is going on?  Should we be more concerned? What does this all mean?

We pulled into La Cruz only 5 days ago and during this time the reality of this virus has really set in.  With information changing every day, every hour.  Kyles families tickets were cancelled.  People are wearing masks and gloves in Costco while they wipe surfaces down with disinfectant.  But the shelves are still fully stocked with an abundance of toilet paper! Stores are starting to close. Events are being cancelled. It’s all so surreal.  So much uncertainty.  

So we continue to gather information but we really feel like we are in the best place to be.  Being on a boat on a remote island with tons of space from any other boats couldn’t be more isolated.  We wouldn’t be infecting anyone else and they wouldn’t be infecting us.  

But on the flip side, we would be that much further away from healthcare should we require more assistance.  Also, staying in Mexico has us subjected to their medical system which has been rumored to be unprepared for this virus.  This is low on our list of concerns in all honesty since we are young and healthy, but nonetheless it is a consideration.

Coming to La Cruz was always the plan. It’s a popular port for other sailors to depart from to do a number of crossings.  Our plan was to cross to Hawaii, then to Alaska and then down our coastline home.  Getting us home around September- October.  People also use this port to depart for French Polynesia or further on to New Zealand and many other places. But as of right now, no one is going anywhere.  Dreams are shattered. 

Other cruisers are chomping at the bit to make their crossings.  But all borders and ports are closed.  A lot of people are talking about changing their plans to cross to Hawaii.  Hawaii is closed as well, however American citizens will be allowed in.  But will they really turn others away?  After 25-30 days at sea, having travelled 2800 miles (5200kms), tired and needing fuel, food, water, and possible boat repairs. Of course Hawaiian officials can do whatever they feel is necessary.  But we will have essentially just had ourselves in more than two weeks of quarantine. We do have enough provisions for a couple of months. We have a water maker. But we could need fuel and possibly assistance in boat repairs.

Crossing to Hawaii would be our number one choice for a number of reasons. We would only be using Hawaii as a means of getting home.  We were never planning to spend time there cruising around. So if it were to be that we couldn’t get off our boat and just do the bare minimum to get ourselves rested and the boat ready to crossover again to Alaska, then that would fine by us.  

There is a lot to do before leaving for Hawaii. First, prep the boat so she is completely seaworthy. Get her fully stocked with provisions and supplies. Paperwork for leaving Mexico and then for entering Hawaii.  

Each of these items packed full of steps in order to make them happen.  

Also,  we will be doing these crossings just the two of us. Which poses its own concerns. Crossing an ocean is no small feat.  There aren’t many things on land that are comparable so it’s hard to put into words what this all entails.  But basically you are switched on, all the time.  Someone needs to be alert and keeping a lookout at all times and making sure we are going in the right direction.  That things aren’t  breaking.  We aren't about to hit anything. You need to be paying attention all day.  All night. Eventually we would get into a groove, but Kyle would probably come out the other end with a full grey beard and our relationship would really be challenged.  Somehow, we are still willing to try it!  If all signs point to yes, of course.

Those signs will have to be:

  1. Boat repairs are complete and Calidris is safe and sturdy

  2. Hawaii and Alaska will accept us

  3. Oh! And this has to happen by June as the hurricane season starts so we would have to be underway before then.

So the question of “Why all the way to Hawaii? Why not just come up the western coastline of the Mexican Baja, California, Oregon etc all the way back to Vancouver?” Believe it or not, sailing to Hawaii from here is the path of least resistance.  Take a look at this video of a wind map for the current wind forecast:  

There are winds that circle in different patterns around the world such as the  “Tradewinds.”  You can see the cursor showing you where we are in Mexico and the direction of the winds are headed out towards Hawaii and then up north towards Alaska.   If we were to try to just come up the coastline, you can see that the winds are blowing from the north down towards the south and would therefore have us bashing against waves and wind.  The engine does not have enough horsepower to push against these elements which would have us basically sitting in one spot for hours not making any progress.  Wasting time and fuel to get no where.  So that is really not an option. What other options do we have? Seeing as though we live on our boat, it is ideal that we get her home in some form. She needs some items to get her fully seaworthy, but sourcing materials in Mexico is really challenging at the best of times.  We may not even be able to source the items we need to sail her home never mind the challenge that crossing the Pacific ocean twice poses (Mexico - Hawaii - Alaska). So not only are we working against the odds in regards to admittance into the States during this crisis, but also whether or not we can get the items we need to get Calidris ready and not to mention whether or not medical assistance would be available to us if needed at sea.   We could leave her down here in a marina for the year and come back this time next year to bring her home,  but then we would be out of a home to live in for a year as well as we’d need a couple of months off to sail her home next year.  Would work give Kyle that time?   Should we just take a hit and sell her down here?  Although the market will likely not be in a sellers favor… might be a good time to buy a new boat! What about shipping her home?  Although very likely expensive, will the cost be about the same as our living expenses for the year?  Maybe less.  So this could be a very viable solution.  We organize shipment for a couple months from now and in the meantime go and hide out/enjoy the last of our time in Mexico on the Baja in the islands.  Then have her shipped home while we find our way home and meet her back in our PNW waters. Get her put back together and head out to our islands to hunker down for the summer before the end of our year is finished. There is no clear answer right now.  We are gathering as much information and getting work done on the boat to prepare ourselves for whichever path lights up.  It’s been a pretty intense full on week.  Im riding waves of anxiety, numbness, frustration and feeling so sad for the world.   We appreciate all the love and support we have been receiving from our friends and family back home.  And the cruising community is like having a family away from our family.  It’s nice to know we are not alone.  We are in a safe place with lots of support, albeit with raw hands from washing obsessively.

So, thank you!

We are thinking about all of our friends and family all over the world and thinking about the whole world as a collective! Much love!

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