“Buy a boat and sail away!” says Facebook.

Today minus 10 days : “We will cross the Pacific soon!!! So excited by all that! Coronavirus? Yes, yes, but there are no cases in Panama, and none in French Polynesia too. It is very sad, but at least we’re in security here.”

Today minus 9 days: “Canada suggests to travellers to cancel their trip? Yes, but you’d be leaving to enter in Panama where there are no cases. So, come soon and we will just escape of all that, right!”

Today minus 8 days : “People arriving in French Polynesia must present a medical certificate dated from maximum 5 days prior arriving. I don’t know how they can deal that for arrivals by boats. Bah! Better getting a certificate before departure. That way, we’re going to be more than good to enter French Polynesia. I guess… “

Today minus 7 days : “Well, a first case in French Polynesia. But you know; they cannot really close their borders, can you imagine?! Oh, and Canadians are advised NOT to travel now. But in our case, it is still to head in a no risk zone. I mean, there are only 3 cases in Panama.  Yeah, not pretty in Italy, they didn’t take enough precautions. In Canada, you are all good as long as you wash your hands. Of course, hygiene in Panama is not quite the same. But still, only 3. And French Polynesia will probably take measures soon, if we look at Cooks, New Zealand and Fiji. Historically it was disastrous when disease were brought by strangers on these tiny islands. At least, still no cases in French Polynesia! It’s time that our crew members arrive so we can leave soon.”

Today minus 6 days : “A boat arriving empty of food, fuel and water after 4-5 weeks at sea?  And they already had a quarantine on top! Immigration cannot turn them away. Of course, as long as no one got sick…. Hmmm you know what? Kids haven’t got to go out of the boat for the past days, so let’s ensure our medical certificate is going to be spotless. Lets keep them onboard from now on. “

Today minus 5 days : “The more I think about it… We’re going to monitor the symptoms of the family every day. Maybe it can help getting a medical certificate. Canadians are required to come back in the country? Well, that virus is getting bigger by the minute… But at least it’s good that people are acting. It’s bit like a vaccine, it doesn’t work if not everyone takes it. Speaking of which, I hope my mom doesn’t get out too much. ”

Today minus 4 days : “I really start to doubt that Canadians will be allowed to travel at all. At the very least, it needs to be for an essential trip. I don’t know how they will decide or monitor that. Coming with us would be the perfect way for them to be in a REAL quarantine! But at the same time, maybe it is just a bad idea to expose them to airports, not so much for the quarantine they’d need to have when arriving, but more to simply avoid that they catch the virus… Let’s keep the kids on the boat today as well. I am not sure we are still going to go. If we cross, French Polynesia would require a quarantine of 2 weeks when we’d arrive. I guess I’m fine with that! Send me a small basket with exotic fruits and I’ll gladly quarantine at anchor in the Marquesas! But at the same time, there are 2 more cases… They won’t let the epidemic get out of control…What are they going to do?”

Today minus 3 days : Confirmed. Our crew members cannot join us. They just can’t as all Canadians are asked to come back. They fear being turned around during their transit in Newark or even in Panama…maybe even in Québec for “non essential trip”. They could also catch the virus, or put our family at risk after a travel in airport. It’s fine. It is a good decision. What if Panama closes their borders? Maybe we could go in the beautiful Perlas islands… but oh gosh the price of the food. We should stock. We started a tad, but we should really stock. Bringing the kids in the super-stores? Out of question!

Today minus 2 days : “Well, we’re going to wait 4 weeks to see what’s what. At that point we could still have the time to head to French Polynesia. Unless they decide then to close their borders. Then it would be an extra week to reach the international port of Tahiti. Or worst. Way worst. 4 extra weeks to reach New-Zealand. Only 2 adults for such a long trip with nights and days shifts and kids to manage. It would be tiring.  Better wait and see, because I feel it is going to hit in French Polynesia. I don’t want to take the risk to arrive with closed borders.”

Yesterday : “I think it would be better to go isolate. We need to do our part and make sure we’re not potentially part of the problem. We should get extra food before heading to the Perlas for a month… or two. “

Today : Forbidden to go by air in Panama. Hard to get out by boat. Hard to get in. Max 30 persons at the same time in the groceries in Panama. Sam went to get has much food as he could carry on his shoulders. He put gloves. We will probably eat all of that in the Perlas while we hope it’s all going to settle for the best. At least, we will have a real deserted island where kids will be able to run.  I hope people won’t start dying like it happened in Italy. At that point, I am past the hope to not screw up my cruising season and hoping to bypass rules by being an exception on a boat. I just want to be part of the solution. Let’s stay safe, let’s keep the others safe. The world needs that we all work together by putting our life on pause. Sadly, I understand now that our life on a boat is not an exception. 

Unloading some of the provision

Summary :

Kids and I were on isolation voluntary for 9 days and our vision of things evolved a lot in the past weeks. By boat, we can probably still leave Panama given the fact that we’ve been in the country for more than 14 days. At least, that’s what we know as I write this, since it changes by the hour. We always have 3-4 weeks of food on Pablo and on top of that is now part of the provisioning for Pacific crossing. This seems to be a dream that won’t happen now. French Polynesia did close their borders. Inhabitants have written signs on their doors hoping tourists and cruisers will go home, won’t come ashore – fearing the visitors will bring the covid-19 to their small islands. Cooks islands, New Zealand and Australia now refuse new arrivals. The Pacific Ocean suddenly feels even bigger with even fewer islands.

As of us, we are in a no hurricane/no cyclonic zone, safe all year long. We have a 1 year visa. Of course we are not there yet. But still, happy to be able to go hide in the Perlas islands – an archipelago of beautiful islands, mostly inhabited. So by staying alone on the beaches we are doing our part. Indeed; the TV show Survivor was filmed here, on Mogo Mogo island.

Testing our Pacific crossing recipes; chocolate hummus!

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  • Hélène Francoeur March 27, 2020   Reply →

    Je vois que vous avez fait le mieux possible étant donné les circonstances qui évoluent rapidement et dans des directions qu’on ne pouvait envisager, et l’avenir est incertain… Courage et bonne chance dans tout!

  • Nicole Pelletier March 31, 2020   Reply →

    Sage décision. Maman Ginette respirera mieux! Be safe. Nicole et Renaud

    PS Jean-Samuel s’informe et vs salue.

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