The news just keeps getting worse

So, here we are in Antigua, unsure about what to do next.  Even with all the uncertainty in the world the sun came up today as expected and it was beautiful.  The view around the harbor is very serene with extremely light winds forecast for the next few days. The news from the US seems to be worse every day and CT, our home state, is looking like it will soon become yet another major hotspot as the infections from nearby NY continue to accelerate and bleed over state lines.

Pandora is registered in Newport RI and I received some information saying that any non RI residents are not allowed to enter the state to work on their boats.    While that doesn’t apply to us right now, it’s a sobering realization.

My brother, who drives up and down the US east coast, moving show horses, told me that he has encountered roadblocks with troopers stopping passenger cars to see where they are headed and why.

The Bahamas, part of our “escape route” for heading back to the US in a few weeks, has tightened down their borders even more, to such a degree that the US Embassy in Nassau issued this alert for US citizens.

“LEAVE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE – Whether you’re at a hotel, on a private boat, or anywhere else, if you are a U.S. citizen and at any point in the near future may need to return to the United States, we urge you to leave as soon as commercial flights again become available, or as soon as you are able to depart by boat or private charter.

Do not wait, and do not assume this message doesn’t apply to you. As we have seen, we cannot predict if, when, or how severely movement within and out of The Bahamas may become restricted, whether by air or by sea.

If you reside in The Bahamas or otherwise choose to stay, please be prepared to remain in The Bahamas for an indefinite period of time.”

That doesn’t leave a lot to the imagination, does it.

Contrast that message with what we are hearing from the administration in Washington, on a daily basis.  I am astounded by the continuing disconnect between the administration and the advice of healthcare professionals.  With the Easter holiday just around the corner, Trump had the following to say about the best way to celebrate the holiday. 

He acknowledged that the holiday would be a particularly sad day for people prohibited from gathering in large numbers and again said that  he would like to consider the possibility of allowing church gatherings outdoors with “great separation.”yesterday suggested that perhaps social distancing restrictions could be lifted for the holiday.   

Oh yeah and about those recommendations on wearing masks where the CDC has recommended to all Americans wear them.  Trump said. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s only a recommendation.”  Give me a break!

I am speechless!  The most alarming thing about all of this, congregating for Easter or not wearing masks in pubic, in spite of the evidence, is that many “believers” will surely see this as a license to do, well, do whatever they want and the consequences will surely lead to a larger body count.  

Anyway, here we sit in Falmouth Harbor not knowing what to do next, knowing full well that we are way safer here, where there is only a few infections,  a fully locked down island and a government that is very clear about the existential threat that they face.  When the one week shutdown is over this coming week, I fully expect that it will be extended.

It’s interesting to see how cruisers, locked down on their boats, are keeping themselves busy and as active as possible.   This morning Brenda and I witnessed a couple nearby dancing together wildly on the bow of their boat.

Brenda and I are taking twice day swims, with laps around the boat.  She was disheartened when she realized that to walk from one end of Pandora to the other was only about 40.  Not likely to get us to the recommended 4,000 steps any time soon.  Not sure exactly how many calories our laps are burning but it’s very enjoyable for us both.Brenda has also been knitting and weaving up a storm and is making great progress on a tapestry “A Caribbean diary”, that will have images highlighting some of our experiences here this winter.   She also finished a shawl using yarn that our son’s partner Melody gave her for Christmas.  Visiting them over the holidays seems like a thousand years ago.  So much has changed. While it’s too hot to sit up on deck when the sun is high, mornings and evenings are times when Brenda and I enjoy time on deck to read, enjoy an adult beverage or just enjoy the serene view that belies all of the ill in the world these days. We have also been spending a lot of time with video calls to our family using WhatsApp on our Google Fi phone.  Two years ago, this wouldn’t have even been possible.  Getting that phone was a stupendous idea.

Last evening we realized that we could, in a single call, set up a video feed with Rob in MD, Chris in CA and our friend Craig in Detroit.  We all had our “happy hour”, and it was a full hour together while watching Tori and the twins terrorize Rob and Kandice.  The contrast from their “screen” to the relative serenity of the other three of us on the call was amazing.

Happy hours aside, the Antigua Coast Guard patrolling the harbor provides daily evidence of the need to pay attention to the threat and rules that have been put in place here to protect everyone.   Our friend Lynn on Roxy, complete with their flamingo, Pinky surveying the harbor this morning, with the Coast Guard cutter patrolling in the background. Every day a few more of the mega yachts leave the harbor, I guess heading to the Mediterranean or Newport.  I heard that at least one of them had a confirmed case of the virus on board and were quarantined while that case was being monitored with the hope that the rest of the crew won’t become infected. With the idea of cutting hundreds of miles off of our trip north by transiting the Bahamas looking less and less likely, Brenda is working hard to come to grips with the likely reality that she and I will be running Pandora home with just the two of us on board.  The longest non-stop run that she has taken with me to date was from Georgetown Bahamas to Santiago de Cuba back in 2016, a three day run that she did not like at all.    That 350 mile run is a lot shorter than the 1,100 run from the USVIs to Florida and we will still be 1,000 mile from home once we arrive there.

Alternatively, we could just opt to head north to CT, directly from the USVIs but that option is a whole lot riskier as we will be hundreds of miles from land and any hope of help if we get into trouble.

So, here we sit, wondering what will happen next and hoping that the news, which seems to be getting worse every day, will begin to turn around.

As long as each state is left to their own devices and are forced to make their own decisions on how to handle things, I fear that tomorrow will bring more bad news that things will continue to get worse.

So, we have to decide when to leave the relative safety of Antigua and head home.  The good news is that we have support, weather, tracking and moral, from the Salty Dawg flotilla that will have staggered starts, heading to the US, from the USVIs and other locations.  As of today about 100 boats have registered to do the run, most opting to head west toward Florida, passing through the Old Bahamas Channel, the route that we will use as well.

So, now it seems that any option of shortening our trip by running through the Bahamas isn’t going to be likely so we will have to decide when we will leave Antigua and head north to an overcrowded USVIs and beyond.

Of course, once we arrive in Florida we will still be 1,000 miles from home.  It’s gong to be a long trip.



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