Sailing in the Time of COVID-19


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:

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:

Instagram: FlyingFishSail
Facebook: Jeffrey Cardenas

Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020

38 thoughts on “Sailing in the Time of COVID-19

  1. of all of the breathtaking photos you have shared…this one took my breath for the wrong reason…
    .glad you have made the difficult decision…see you around “campus” soon;)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for following Flying Fish, Megan. I am eager to be home and although I am in excellent health right now I understand that once I return I must disappear for another couple of weeks of self isolation. It will be kinda like singlehanded sailing.


  2. Sorry you have to interrupt this adventure, but it is the wise thing to do. There is an upside to this: getting more time with family. This is a storm you can’t go around and is definitely not safe to go through. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are always good for a positive view of life, Bob Morris. I like the words, “next time ’round.” I’m getting a little long in the tooth for planning another voyage but one can always hope…


  3. Hi Jeff, follow your instincts, your heart will tell you what to do. Sounds like it is setting your compass towards home. Everyone’s routine has been disrupted. We are so blessed to be in Key West where the sun is shining . I would love to see the medical brains of the world work together and come up with an antiviral to combat this microbe and then a vaccine to prevent it. We have done this before. It brings out the best and the worst in people. Hopefully we will not lose our humanity. I love your picture of the rainbow- it is a symbol of hope and really reminds us of the beauty and peace possible to experience if we just take a deep breath and allow it to . May I have your permission to forward it? Please consider using it as the cover of your next book. Looking forward to your next update!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We won’t lose our humanity over this bug, Roberta. Sure, there will be moments of ugliness. Fear causes some people to act irrationally. But the human spirit is resilient. I predict an outpouring of kindness, even if it gets worse before it gets better. And of course you may forward my images. That rainbow was a reminder to me that there is an end to every storm.


  4. Hello Jeff Card…. Wise decision…. I spoke at length with our friend Doc / Lawyer Tim Wilson Keys resident last night…. He is not so much concerned with the Virus but with the foolish actions of our citizens hoarding,panicking, hysteria, etc…. The media once again fueling the fire… George Harrison : All Things Must Pass
    peace dave

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your message Dave. I agree, we all need to take a deep breath and slow down. I believe that this virus can feed on stress and anxiety. How we think and react to this virus can save us or kill us.


    • We have to trust ourselves to be ready for this virus, David. The government can spend a trillion dollars and send checks to everyone but in the end we need to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.


  5. Jeffrey, sorry to hear your plans got up-ended but do think you have made a good choice, glad to hear Ginny and your family are well. Thought we might miss the virus here in WY but travelers from other states have brought it here in my hometown. Doubt there is anywhere in the world that is not going to be spared. Just happy my airline career is over and the upcoming fire season is as slow as it has been the past couple years here in the West.
    Safe travels,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good decision, Jeffery! Yes, it’s crazy over here, but we’ll get through it, with God’s grace. The rainbow photo is just fantastic! God’s promises never fail. Thanks for that and wash your hands a lot😘


    • Dar, I cannot wait to be back on the island with friends and family, but please know that I will be extremely vigilant in maintaining complete quarantine for several weeks until I am certain I have brought home no viral stowaways from my time abroad.


  7. Best wishes Jeffrey.
    Great decision. We moored Let’s Go! in Finike, Turkey for over a year in 2008/9. It is a lovely authentic town with a good technical team (or it was).
    You might consider it. Patty and I had a wonderful sailing season exploring the Turkish coast before returning to Finike for winter. Dry storage was not too expensive.

    Meanwhile Patty and I are in New Zealand out at Waiheke Is but trying to make it back home too. It is not a slam dunk. We may have to weather the storm here.

    Take care.

    Let’s Go!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim, You and Patty and Let’s Go have been EVERYWHERE.
      It saddens me to leave Flying Fish behind, indefinitely. Things have changed on the Turkish coast. Dry storage in Fethiye is nearly 2000 EUR a month. People everywhere are hoarding money, I guess, before it is all gone.
      If you and Patty have to weather this storm somewhere there couldn’t be a better place to be hove to than in New Zealand.


  8. Hi Jeffrey,
    We are currently in Fethiye and were planning to sail our IP485 to the Caribbean this year !
    With the current situation, our plans are on hold but if you would like any help from us to organise marina berth etc. Just let me know. I will send you a friend request on Facebook now so you can PM me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adam, Fethiye looks like a beautiful place to wait out this virus. Sailboats and turquoise water and snowcapped mountains… It would be perfect if we could only go sailing. I look forward to returning there as soon as possible.


  9. Just checked your progress across the Indian Ocean on March 22. At 19.8 knots Flying Fish will be in Turkey by the end of the week. I know this leg of the journey isn’t what you had planned, but these are challenging times and I think you made an excellent decision. Our love to you, Ginny, Lilly, and all your family. Michael and Susan

    Liked by 1 person

    • Flying Fish is smokin’ across the Indian Ocean at 20 knots. I just wish I was aboard to experience it. The shipping company is estimating a 30 March delivery date in Fethiye, Turkey. It is difficult to imagine not being there when she is disembarked. That boat has become a part of me in these past 30 months on the ocean.

      Liked by 1 person

      • good news safely home thru the heavens dear about adventure…now you can fall into each others arms ..well soon come ..yours and your families hearts must be so full..surely bet all your friends hearts are bustin for you❤️🌎..key west ..makes me smile to think of it..always love ❤️


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