April 6, 2020
As I wake up and come to a state of consciousness each day the weight of our situation and the situation of the world comes crashing down. What are we going to do? Should we leave and head north? Will we be able to get fuel? Should we go to Florida? Should we try to make it all the way home? These aren’t easy decisions and there are no easy answers. Every day the situation changes.
We start the day by listening to the cruiser’s net at 8:00 am on the VHF. It is hosted by a wonderful woman by the name of Emilie and she summarizes the local news, weather and any activities in the anchorage and then opens it up to cruisers that may need to address the anchorage. It makes you feel part of a community and you begin to know some of the personalities of various cruisers still stuck here. Everyone is hungry for information. Everyone is trying to keep their spirits up. People help other people in need of parts, water, advice etc. We put out a need for a SIM card and two cruisers volunteered. Although it involved two 2 mile dinghy rides, we got one of them to work so we have back up in case we run out of Google Fi. Evening VHF gatherings include trivia night, diving seminars, boat improvements and a murder mystery event. These are the things you do without TV!
The prime minister of the Bahamas also gives radio addresses here periodically. He is a very educated, intelligent eloquent man. He is a surgeon. His sons are also physicians so he has a unique perspective on this crisis and conveys his thoughts directly and honestly. You are riveted when he speaks. His first address last week frightened us a bit for he said especially to the smaller family islands to not let boaters to your shores for they may have the virus. It was later clarified that he was likely speaking to the Bahamian people who visit family on other islands because they haven’t been obeying the rules. Friday afternoon, he spoke again and reinforced no inter island travel and locked down the country through the weekend in which no grocery stores would be open. You are to stay in your home and not even go outside to exercise. Reports were coming in from other cruisers throughout the Bahamas that they were being stopped by the Bahamian police or navy and were told they had to go back to the port they left from so they were refusing them entry or exit. Saturday night the United States Embassy put out on Facebook several messages telling US citizens to come home immediately. The embassy also addressed boaters specifically to return home as soon as possible but if Bahamian authorities prohibit inter island travel then you should obey their orders. Cruisers have reached out to the embassy and know our concerns of getting fuel as we travel home. There are only a few places still giving fuel and they are out of the way places and when the lockdowns take place they are closed. We will have to wait and see. As of today, April 6th, the Bahamas Assembly said “Protocols for yachts and other pleasure craft are being developed. The main purpose of which is to encourage as many of “these people” already within Bahamian territorial waters to return to their countries of origin for the duration of the pandemic."
There is also a new full lockdown for Easter beginning Wednesday night until Tuesday morning. Weekend lockdowns will continue through the end of April from Friday till Monday.
So, where are we at this point? We have to wait and see. We have food here although we are limited to the days of the week and times to shop. We have a group of people that are in the same situation as us. We have time on our side in that hurricane season is not yet on our doorstep and that it is better for us to wait for better seasonal weather changes to make it all the way home so we don’t have to stop in Florida. If fuel is not available, we may have to go to Florida. The option to sail all the way to NC may be off the table. It sounds easy but we need to plan which islands we sail to on our way home. Do we stop and rest? Do we sail several days in a row? Do we go north to the Abacos and then home? Do we go northwest through the Bahamas toward Florida and if conditions are good out at sea go all the way to NC? We have to have several contingency plans. If we can’t do this, then we will go this route. It is a daunting task on top of the concerns of our potential exposure to the virus without any real healthcare here along with the tanking of the economy. Time will tell but the number of thoughts spinning in our heads on a daily basis is exhausting at times and emotions are high. Keeping busy keeps your mind off things so Kevin scrubbed the bottom again and worked on cleaning the rust off all our stainless. I cleaned the Flexiteek and topsides of the boat. We haven’t had rain for weeks so it is pretty dirty and crusty. Made some banana bread and it was delicious. Still did a little paddle boarding just to have my Zen moment and have some alone time. We will figure it out. Everyone and everything in the world is in limbo and everyone is suffering in some way. We do have beautiful weather and a beautiful view. There are worse places to be.