In January we began the first boat project we had scheduled for the winter. In March we meant to sail the boat to a boatyard and commence further projects on dry land. Those plans have now been delayed, postponed to a “more suitable time”, or perhaps they might turn into something a bit different. Who knows, unexpected things happen, as we well know. When we first started our journey, we had ambitious route plans and schedules, which soon turned topsy-turvy. Since then we have only sailed (or stayed put, like we now have for the winter) one day at a time. It used to sound a bit cliché to say that to people who asked about our plans. But then came the Coronavirus, and the world has rapidly changed. I bet living one day at a time is much more common now than it was a few weeks or months ago!
Greece is in lockdown, just like all the Mediterranean, and an ever growing number of countries around the world. Every day new restrictions are announced. First the schools and day care centres were closed, then the sports arenas and restaurants, then the marinas, and now all boating is prohibited. Public movement restriction will apply starting tomorrow at 6 AM, similar to what Italy and Spain have had for a while – only trips to the supermarket and pharmacy will be allowed. We can keep living on our boat in this marina, but not sail to any other place. Moving the boat to a boatyard is allowed, but we can’t be sure if we’ll be accepted anywhere after completing the works. So perhaps the wisest thing now is just to stay put, sit back and wait and see what happens.
The restrictions have so far had very little effect on our life in the marina. Winter in Mesolonghi has been quiet anyway. There are only a few boats with liveaboards, a little less now than a couple of weeks ago. Some – those who have a house somewhere – have flown to their home countries. But we are here, and we live pretty much like we’ve lived before. Perhaps we visit the supermarket a little less frequently now, and buy a little more whenever we do, and no longer stop anywhere for souvlaki or a cuppa. For many, our life probably seemed like social distancing even before the virus.
As cruising sailors, we are used to provisioning for long passages, living at anchor for weeks without replenishing, and stocking up on things that we know we might not find in the next place. We are also pretty good at estimating how long a pack of toilet paper will last! We are used to living fairly frugally, we like cooking with local ingredients and reuse all of our leftovers. We get along with each other in close quarters. It’s not difficult to find things to do at home, and we are used to reading our news and books in digital form. We have learned that our routes and schedules are often dictated by factors beyond our control – weather first and foremost – and sometimes even our boat might schedule herself some little surprise of a maintenance project. Without really noticing, we have acquired many skills that are now, suddenly, in great demand.
Of course, there are difficulties, such as all of the hardware stores, chandleries and so on being closed just now, that we have all this time on our hands to work on the boat. And the inevitable question, which no one seems to want to say out loud: what about the future? How long will this go on, how much worse will it get? And even if it doesn’t seem like much of an ordeal to spend the winter months in isolation, what if we can’t go anywhere all summer?
We were going to have several visitors during the coming summer. Close family, finally, those who we have been eager to share a little part of our life with, adventuring around the magical Greek islands. Now all their travel plans have been postponed into an unknown “after corona” era. Well, Greece will still be beautiful in the autumn, or next spring – the ancient archipelago will always be here, as it always has been. And travel plans are the smallest of our problems these days, when people are getting sick and dying. The most important thing now is to try and stay healthy, follow orders and do the best we can to improve the situation, and to hope that it will not last forever. We send our warm thoughts to every one of you reading this blog. We’ll make it through!