I’ve tried to sit down and write for several days now and the words just won’t come. When they do, it’s just a jumble – so many different directions that even I have trouble making sense of them all. So let’s just start with these two questions:
Where are you?
What are you doing?
When the US Department of State released the statement for all US citizens to return to the US or be prepared to shelter in place indefinitely, we had already discussed what we would do if the US issued such a statement since Canada already had. We know the safest place for us is on our boat. We’re mostly self-sufficient with our reverse osmosis water maker (even though it only makes 3.4 gallons per hour), our solar panels and wind generator. We can store quite a lot of food and we’re prepared to wait it out. But just how long might that be? “Indefinitely” could be a really, really long time.
We’ve been heading north. It’s been slow going as the weather hasn’t been cooperating. We waited for 2 weeks in Costa Rica (sitting at anchor and only going ashore a few times – practicing quarantine before it was a thing). Then we waited in southern Mexico for another 2 weeks. We spent a few days in Zihuatenajo before we were able to sail another 200 miles north to where we are now, Barra de Navidad. We’re 100 miles short of La Cruz where we planned to reunite with several missionary friends, lots of boat friends, and Dennis planned to preach on Easter. And now, well, everything is closed, off limits, just like the rest of the world.
We’re still trying to go north. We think. At this point it’s mainly to be out of the hurricane zone before the season starts on May 15th. We’ve been here for a week waiting for our next window of agreeable weather to sail north. We came into the marina when we first arrived, planning for just a night or two. We were low on power and water. Our navigation and communication equipment pull so much power and when we’re sailing it has to be on 24/7. The direction we were sailing limited the amount of sun on our solar panels. We need power to run our water maker, so low power meant we didn’t make any water. The anchorage in Barra is located in a very muddy estuary so no making water there. When we arrived, the dock for transient boats had two other boats on it. A week later it has over 20 with only a few spaces left. We heard rumors that the ports were going to be closed so we kept our slip. Hurricane season starts in 6 weeks and the dock is much safer than at anchor. Of course being at the dock means we’re coming into contact with more people. We’ve all been practicing social distancing. We’re washing our hands constantly and taking showers daily. That’s so different than our normal routine of showering once or twice a week. That’s definitely a benefit of staying on the dock – unlimited water. Without a washing machine, we can only wash clothes a few at a time in a bucket. We’ve been alternating our clothes and hanging them on the lines in the sun and then washing after a few days.
We’ve been weighing all our options – do we leave and go north? What if ports are closed while we’re enroute? Will we be able to get into a port? What will we find as we go north? Do we find an empty, secluded anchorage on some deserted island and wait this out? What if this lasts several months and we need more food? What if someone gets sick and we need medical care? We are stocked up on tylenol, cough medicine, inhalers, neubulizer meds, essential oils, and SO much other stuff. We have food to last probably 2-3 months if we are careful.
Two days ago the Mexican government issued an order to close all ports. Sailors are beginning to get nervous. “If we’re stuck here, we need a slip at the marina.” This marina is a designated hurricane hole, meaning the topography of the land provides protection from the brunt force of a hurricane. They took a direct hit in 2015 from a cat 5 hurricane and only suffered minimal damage. We were so glad we kept our slip and now our decision was made for us.
BUT then just a few hours later, a new order was issued that says private foreign flagged vessels are free to move from port to port within Mexico. Now we have a decision to make again. (Un)fortunately the next weather window is still looking like it’s a week away so we have time to go over the scenarios and make a decision.
BUT then yesterday morning, the port captain here in Barra said all boats are to remain in port. We’re not sure if he just hasn’t seen the second order or if he has made his own decision. Irregardless, we do not plan to violate his order or do anything contrary to what the Mexican government declares. It’s changing moment by moment. The back and forth is mentally exhausting.
BUT if we stay here, we are smack in the middle of the hurricane zone. Our current insurance policy (which expires in August and the company is closing so we are working on find a new carrier) raises our deductible if we remain in the hurricane zone. It goes up from $2,000 to $40,000!! That’s not a typo. The boat is our home. If we lose it, we lose everything.
Honestly, if it wasn’t for the whole hurricane thing this could be an excellent place to be “stuck.” The marina is part of a huge and amazing resort. It’s almost completely shut down. The pools are open, and since they are chlorinated and we’re practically the only ones that go we’ve decided to let the kids keep going. We just discovered a business center with wifi. It’s empty too. The location is beautiful, warm during the day, but so much cooler than where we’ve been lately. I’ve actually taken warm showers for the first time in months! We’ve even turned off our fans at night and slept under covers. It only gets into the low 70s but we’ve acclimated to much higher temps so we’ve been cold. The virus is said to not like hot and humid climates so that’s good for us. The nearby small town has a few grocery stores and medical offices. It’s across the estuary so we remain even more isolated at the marina. There is a larger city about an hour away.
But those lingering questions keep popping up…are we safe from the virus here? Will we be safe from hurricanes here? Would we be safer if we do sail north and hide out away from as many people as possible? What is going to happen here in Mexico? There are so many unknowns. We’re praying God would make it clear. Please pray for us as we try to determine the best way to keep our family safe as we will continue praying for you.