How to make the best of Covid-19

The only constant in life is change. 2020 will go down in history a very special year. Who would have thought that our sailing preparations will be stopped by a planetwide virus pandemic? Covid-19 reaches every corner of the planet and brings our plans to a full stop. We make the best of the situation anyway.

Planning, planning, planning

After our return from Mexico, the final preparations began for our adventure, which was to start in May 2020. The plan was for the four of us to meet at Milagros in Ensenada, Mexico in the first week of May and get the ship ready for departure as soon as possible. We wanted to bring the ship to Guaymas in the Gulf of California, as Carmen and Iñaki were already there preparing their ship – now called Anila – as of mid-February. The goal was to put Milagros on the drydock there as well, to do all the necessary jobs and install upgrades. Then we wanted to “hide” from the hurricanes in Baja California and train with our ships in the wonderful landscape.

Hurry up

Since the hurricane season in the eastern Pacific officially lasts from May 15th to November 30th, we wanted to do the 10-day crossing from Ensenada to Guaymas as quickly as possible. That meant: preparations had to be made, an example are our steering cables. We had discovered over Christmas that they had fish hooks and were disintegrating in some places. They had to be replaced asap. So, we asked Raul to dismantle the cables and send them to the USA so that Colligo Marine could manufacture new cables from Dyneema, a synthetic chemical fiber based on polyethylene and fifteen times more tensile than steel. Unfortunately, the project was less successful than expected, but more on that later.

An endless to-do list

A lot had to be done at home too. On the seemingly endless list of preparations there were things like: giving up and leaving an apartment, quitting jobs, finding a place for our cats, obtaining all the necessary exams and documents for the offshore license, organizing a farewell party, making new passports, booking flights, sending a pallet to Mexico, order various building materials and tools in the USA and so on.

The unpredictability of being a sailor

In the middle of the last preparations, however, it became apparent that COVID-19 would thwart our plans. The unpredictability of sailing life began in Switzerland already. Inevitably, we put our plan on hold for the time being – with one crying and one laughing (yes, really!) eye. Although we were of course disappointed that the adventure couldn’t start yet, we saw the many benefits of this delay. Since we had already given up our apartment in January 2020 and moved to my parents’ farm, we were not left without a roof over our heads.

Our friend Rahel made some awesome face masks with a traditional Swiss pattern <3

4 advantages of a delayed departure

Friends and family

Unexpectedly, we were able to spend the whole summer 2020 with friends and family (compliant with COVID-19 measures of course). Some even confessed to us that they were actually quite glad that we couldn’t travel.

Playing Settlers of Catan during Covid-19 lockdown with our friends from New Kids On The Pond

We enjoyed some really nice summer weekends in our second home, a stationary caravan next to a river in St. Ursanne.

Covid-19 conformity is ensured

Enjoying the summer presented me with some minor hurdles, as for example all my bikinis (except one) were already on the ship and my sandals were so well stowed that I had to borrow shoes from my mother when it got really hot for the first time. It’s a hard knock life for Pati.

Money

With money the following rule applies: more is more. I was able to extend my job at Weleda by 3 months (and then again by 6 months until the end of 2020) with a capacity reduced to 60%. David was also able to agree with his employer on continued employment until the end of 2020. And all we earned now was more than planned.

Preparations

These unplanned months due to Covid-19 in Switzerland gave us additional opportunities for preparations. David also could to do all the necessary exams for the offshore license, which was not originally planned.

As part of our preparations we trained our sailing skills
Preparation of a proper navigation on paper is a key skill
Training navigation on paper for the offshore license
Sailing is hard work!
Sailing training on a 26 foot boat on Lake Thun

Time

By reducing the capacity, working from home and lockdown, I unexpectedly had a lot of time for things for which I had no time (anymore) before – so I could, for example, sew tool bags for combination wrenches (and a dress for myself). I also enjoyed life on the farm: making jam from our own cherries and plums, looking after the farm shop, expanding my kombucha breeding, and much more.

And what about Milagros?

Well, our ship was in Mexico. Fortunately, in Raul we had found someone reliable to make sure everything was going well. This included regular photos and updates. It’s just not easy to organize everything from Switzerland with a language barrier and time difference. Why exactly can be explained very clearly by using the example of our steering cables.

Do we now have new steering cables?

We gave Raul the order to photograph, measure and dismantle our steering cables and send them to Colligo Marine in the USA with FedEx. So far so good. The original steering cables made of steel cables arrived at Colligo and the new cables made of Dyneema were to be manufactured according to the offer based on the measurements and photos by Raul. But then Colligo noticed that somehow a part had to be missing because the individual parts of the cable didn’t quite fit together. Oops – a section was probably forgotten. Raul then had to send it to Colligo, too. When the missing part was there, the new cables were quickly ready and on their way to Mexico via UPS.

A minor disaster!

Then it happened as it had to: the package was lost. A minor disaster! Not only the new cables, but also the old ones were in the package. We then alternately received emails that the package was stuck at the Mexican border, or could not be found, or was stuck at the Canadian border (!). Our contact from Colligo worked hard and four long weeks later the package could finally be accepted by Brent in Ensenada, of course not without hefty customs duties.

And what now?

Raul was on fire and wanted to install the new cables immediately. But it didn’t work out as the attachments for the cables on the steering quadrant were not sent to Colligo for some reasons. So, the ends were spliced without the attachments and now the cables may be too long. Fail. We then decided that he shouldn’t install the cables and that we would do it ourselves as soon as we got back to the ship.

Our ship is now in the marina and de facto unable to maneuver!

Are the steering cables too long?

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