Into Suez with No One at the Helm

FF Suez sm

The satellite track of Flying Fish as she transits the Red Sea and into the Suez Canal. Map courtesy of PredictWind

From thousands of miles away, I watch Flying Fish today on a computer screen as she transits the great Suez Canal without me. It is painfully disappointing.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I clearly understand today’s reality: We are in the midst of a global crisis. Tens of thousands of people are sick and dying. More each day. Our world is changing by the moment. By the grace of God, I am healthy now and so are the people I love. My gratitude far outweighs my disappointment.

It seems like yesterday that borders around the world began closing because of COVID-19. Less than two weeks ago I made the decision in Phuket, Thailand to put my circumnavigation on hold and find a safe place for Flying Fish. I wanted to return to Key West to be closer to family. I secured a last-minute passage for Flying Fish aboard the freighter Annegret. There were only two destination choices available, Turkey or Norway. I choose  Fethiye, Turkey for Flying Fish and then I began shuttling from airport to airport until I reached home. By the next morning most of the planet was in lockdown. I immediately went into, and I remain in, strict quarantine. I have no regrets about leaving the boat behind but I carry some weight of survivor’s guilt. What karma in my life allowed me to find a safe place isolate and be with my family while so many others struggle?

As for Flying Fish, she sails today with no one at her helm on the back of the freighter through the Suez Canal. She transits this gash in the sand where engineering triumphed over nature and severed Africa from Asia. Flying Fish passes the Middle East to starboard. To the west are the great pyramids of Giza, the massive Nile River Delta, and the storied Mediterranean port of ancient Alexandria. In two days, some 400 miles north in Fethiye, the freighter will attach a crane to Flying Fish and lower her into the Mediterranean Sea. I won’t be there to take her lines and guide her into port. A shipping agent has been hired to do that. It will be the first time since Flying Fish has left the builder’s yard that I will leave her helm in the hands of someone else.

I realize that speaking of sailing during times like this can be offensive when so many other people are simply trying to breathe. But there is one thing that unites all of us and drives forward. It is a hope for normalcy.

Annegret.sm

M/V Annegret in Phuket loading cargo bound for the Mediterranean Sea. © Jeffrey Cardenas

 

I am not aboard Flying Fish but you can see where she is the Mediterranean Sea here: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

Please subscribe at the bottom of this page and you will be among the first to know when I rejoin my little ship. And please consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the (future) voyage of Flying Fish.

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020

Sailing in the Time of COVID-19

IMG_9258

Flying Fish is hoisted out of the water in Phuket, Thailand for transport on the back of a freighter to the Eastern Mediterranean. Photo: © Jeffrey Cardenas

It has become clear to me, perhaps later than it should have, that this is not an appropriate time for me to be wandering around the world on a personal adventure. For those of us who are not sailing with our families it is a time to point the compass in the direction of home.

With that in mind, yesterday I had Flying Fish loaded on the back of a freighter in Phuket, Thailand  bound for the Mediterranean Sea. It will bring me nearly 5,000 miles closer to home. After that… who knows. The world is spinning so quickly now that it seems impossible to plan for the future.

Ports worldwide are closing as the pandemic–and the panic–sends cruising sailors in search of a safe harbor. Most islands and countries around the Indian Ocean have closed their borders. Some sailors have been denied entry into countries that had already issued them visas. A number of boats are backtracking as they scramble to find legal dry land. It is rapidly becoming a real-life Waterworld.

Remaining in Thailand was an option for Flying Fish, but it would have been short-term security. Thailand has the virus like nearly every other spot on earth. Once a U.S. citizen  is officially in Thailand their visa is limited to 30 days. I had only a couple of weeks before my visa expired and I would be required to leave the country. But to where? The number of countries accepting foreign visitors was rapidly diminishing as borders closed. Turkey was still open. I accepted transport by freighter (the shipping company would not allow me to ride along) and I booked a flight to Istanbul.

It is interesting how priorities shape in a crisis. While many have suggested that being on a boat in the middle of the ocean might be the safest place in the world to avoid getting sick, being healthy while your family may be at risk is not how families take care of each other.

I am not home yet. Flying Fish will be unloaded in Fethiye, Turkey at the end of March. Once she arrives I will look for a secure place to moor the boat while I determine if and when I can re-enter the United States. My family is healthy now, by the grace of God, but if any of us do become ill the distance between us is now 5,000 miles closer.

Lahaina Rainbow2

A Pacific Ocean rainbow and hope for a brighter future. Photograph: © Jeffrey Cardenas

I am not aboard Flying Fish but you can still follow her daily progress as she hitchhikes aboard a freighter from Southeast Asia across the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. Click this link: https://forecast.predictwind.com/tracking/display/Flyingfish

Please subscribe at the bottom of this page so that you don’t miss a new update, and consider sharing this post with others who might enjoy following the voyage of Flying Fish.

To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here: https://cruisersat.net/track/Flying%20Fish

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020