The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Our scheme to sail north up the Caribbean chain to the British Virgin Islands and home to New York via Bermuda has been thoroughly hi-jacked by pirate ship “SARS-CoV-2”.
As described in “Isolated Sailing”, we were locked down in Antigua from Mid March. When we arrived at the island, we had made our way to Catamaran Marina in Falmouth Harbour to get our perpetually petulant fridge looked at. Almost immediately the Antiguan government imposed a 24-hour curfew with instructions that no boats could move anywhere. So Catamaran Marina became our new world. We could walk to the grocery store in the mornings with masks, gloves and Lysol wipes at hand, but basically we were confined to Genevieve. No walks, no socializing, no swimming, no nothing.
We occupied ourselves by maintaining every inch of Genevieve: stripped, cleaned and greased the 7 winches; rebuilt the windlass; scrubbed the bilges; rebuilt pumps; polished stainless; waxed GRP; scrubbed and protected Mimi the dinghy; and on and on and on. After our self-imposed work day we watched our meagre collection of movies on DVD (no wifi!), monitored the depressing news from WNYC and NPR and generally hunkered down. Our neighbor boats–mostly large crewed yachts waiting to sail to Europe or elsewhere for the summer–did much the same. But at least we had some distanced people watching and chats over the transom to distract us. We made friends with the dock cat, experimented with new haircuts, played backgammon (John always won!) and other crazy antics.
After six weeks, with COVID largely contained in Antigua, the curfew was relaxed and we could move around the island with permission from the Antigua & Barbuda Coastguard. So we escaped from Falmouth Harbour and went to explore a bit more of Antigua. It was a huge relief to be ale to get out to some lovely anchorages to swim, snorkel, paddle board and be active again. We met some new boats, but the usual social cruisers scene was very subdued with no sundown get-togethers.
Soon, even our new fave spots off Green Island and Great Bird Island started to grow stale, but there was still no easing of restrictions. Our intended crew for the sail to NY were locked-down in Panama on their boat with no end in sight, and with the islands closed, airports shuttered, there was no way to get any other crew to us…and a 10-day ocean passage from Antigua to NY double-handed did not appeal to either of us.
So our original plan was thoroughly scuttled and we had to come up with a new one. In the end we decided the best solution was to ramp-up our hurricane insurance and leave Genevieve in Antigua. Luckily we found a good spot in a 8 pad cradle on the hard at Catamaran Marina with some experienced yacht managers to keep an eye on her. Come the last week of May, we started the week-long process of preparing Genevieve for a summer on the hard. On June 5th we hauled her out, dogged the ports, locked the hatches and high-tailed it to the deserted airport to catch the first scheduled flight out of Antigua and home to New York.
Despite the continued new normal in NY, it was great to be back to our “land home”. We have been busy opening things up and inventing projects: building a bar, the usual painting of windows and doors, scrubbing mold off things, etc, etc.
We plan to return to Antigua early 2021, wake up Genevieve and resume our original plan: cruise the northern Caribbean islands and in May head to New York by way of Bermuda, hopefully with no restrictions remaining and the specter of COVID-19 fading away.
Enjoy the pics…