I’d say that we are within two, maybe three days of having Eagle Too ready to go wherever we might like to take her. Fill up some fuel cans, top off the propane tanks, load some provisions, and we’ll be set to go. The plan has been to try and be ready in late March to seize a weather window and head south—maybe to the Keys, maybe back to the Bahamas. The destination has been a little vague, only the intent to voyage was somewhat certain. But then, that’s the way we’ve tended to travel. We point the bow southward and see where we end up. After arriving, we look around, pick some people’s brains, and decide where we might like to go next. Some may find this lack of a specific plan, and especially our casualness regarding arrival and departure dates, somewhat unsettling. But in the immortal words of that great sage Jimmy Buffet, “I don’t want that much organization in my life.” (Fruitcakes)
So the weather was starting to look pretty good. We put the word out to friends and relatives that we were getting ready to depart. And then this crazy Coronavirus thing happened. And now we’re not sure what to do. The flu comes every year, and we frankly don’t give it any mind. We certainly wouldn’t let it affect our desire to cruise. But this just seems…different. And we don’t know enough to determine if this is just another type of flu, or if it really is the “OMG we’re all going to die!” affliction that many media reports suggest.
Here’s our concern in a nutshell. Having a bad case of flu sucks. But dealing with it from the comfort of a centrally heated and cooled home while lying in a stable, king sized bed with a Walgreens nearby and quality medical care a mere 911 call away seems preferable to dealing with the same affliction while traveling on a boat. You can’t put on hold things like dealing with a dragging anchor or thunderstorm preparations or setting up and running the water maker until you feel better. What would normally be a gentle, sleep-inducing rocking could become an agonizing torment if you’re wracked by fever and muscle aches. Climbing over the stern and into a pitching dinghy to take a wet and bumpy ride ashore to look for medical assistance may not just be difficult, it might become impossible. And as for finding that assistance, well, in our experience, you wouldn’t want to be sick and need help in most of the Bahamian out-islands. You’re lucky if you can find a small clinic, and if you do, it’s probably only open a few hours a week, and that’s if the traveling nurse didn’t miss the mailboat that day. We’ve actually seen fellow cruisers who were injured or sick have better results by reaching out to other boats, quite a few of which have a retired nurse or doctor onboard.
There seems to be advantage in social distancing. Being offshore would put a lot of space between us and anyone infected. But as much as we hate to admit it, Rhonda and I have both crossed the line into that category where the CDC says “you should be very cautious if you are this age or older.”
So what to do? In situations where the path ahead is not clear, we’ll often resort to the time-tested ‘pros-and-cons’ list. But here’s what happened when we thought through both sides:
Pro: If we go, we’ll be effectively self-quarantining, which reduces our chance of infection.
Con: If we get sick, we could die.
Insert loud tires-squealing, needle-dragging-across-a-record-album noise here. All stop. It’s hard to imagine anything we could add to the Pro list that would offset that glaring red flashing Con.
Is the concern overblown? Yes, I’m sure it is. But people die of the flu every year, and the CDC is saying that Covid-19 is about 10 times more contagious and 10 times more deadly.
Even with that, we were still leaning just a little toward going. And then the President announced that all travel by non-citizens from Europe was being suspended. Never in our entire lives have we seen that happen before. And suddenly, the whole world seemed like a much more dangerous place.
So now we feel paralyzed by a lack of information. Maybe this will be really bad. Maybe it will turn the corner in a few weeks and everything will be fine. Only time will tell if this is another 1918 Spanish Flu or just a case of media hysteria. And for that reason, I think we’ll just stay in standby for the next few weeks. Take the boat out locally, do a shakedown cruise, and keep watching the news. If things take a turn for the better, we’ll still be able to squeeze in two or three months of cruising. If not, well, I guess there’s always next year…
For now, stay safe and keep washing those hands!