If you are not planning it you are dreaming about it, the trade winds route across the Pacific. This route has captured the hearts and minds of sailors for generations. During the last few years, three to four hundred yachts make the Coconut Milk Run one of the most popular cruising seasons.
On Twalzan as with many other cruisers, we had taken the month of November preparing on the Pacific coast of Panama. Arriving in Galapagos in early February the news of COVID19 seemed distant and just another one of those things we had left behind but after a month sailing the Enchanted Islands the news, the national responses, and the first cases in Ecuador were upon us. When our agent started in with reports of pending restrictions, I immediately asked for departure from Zarpe to Marquesas.
On March 17, 2020, there were only two yachts able to leave Galapagos as immigration locked down the islands. Full of gratitude and adrenaline we set sail leaving Isabella to starboard and saying our goodbyes to the amazing Galapagos. In less than 24 hours we would get the news that French Polynesia was on lockdown for all incoming air/sea travel.
( EXIT ONLY OPENING STORY ON THE NEWS EVENTS ON THE ANCHORAGE)
Our Predict routes showed a southerly course down to around eight-degree latitude and then straight west. After a beautiful start with fifteen knots of breeze we slowed and began to motor through 200 miles of oil slick doldrums. During this first week, every day was filled with changes, updates and travel restrictions worldwide seems there is no sailing away from COVID19. The mindset on board was one of focus on the voyage, steadfast to enjoy the crossing that we had worked so hard to plan.
Once on the trade winds spinnaker flying hundred seventy mile days only stopping to reel in yellowfin tuna, life was what we had dreamt it would be on the Milk Run. Then news got worst from family back home, from friends on boats back in Galapagos and the pending restrictions we would face in FP. Don’t know too many sailors that like to be told where to go and what to do and we certainly fit into that bunch.
Authorities rarely get it right, quarantine a yacht that has been out at sea for over twenty days coming from a place where no COVID19 cases had been confirming prior to departures seemed just another bureaucratic screw-up. To be forced to leave your boat and travel into the company of thousands in line at the airports exposing you to a virus that is non-existent on your boat felt like cruel and unjust punishment to me.
We were now two days out from the first of the Marquesas Islands and the newest information is better. The airport in Pipette was closed so they could not make us fly out, the immigration had closed in Marquesas so there was no checking in the procedure and the provisioning in Nuka Hiva was said to be moving smoothly.