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.

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:

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To see where Flying Fish has sailed since leaving Key West in 2017, click here:

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Text and Photography © Jeffrey Cardenas 2020

36 thoughts on “Into Suez with No One at the Helm

  1. Gutsy move on your part Jeff no doubt the right one.Just think quarantine in Key West or sailing the Ocean solo kind of one and the same.The good part is U get to have your family at hand as well as someone to cook for U.i certainly hope the world gets back to normal soon.Marylou and I will be here in Florida indefinitely as we don’t want to risk an airplane flight back to Cape Cod.Enjoy your time with family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Phil. You are right, there are similarities between quarantine and solo sailing. But it all comes down to how you manage your time. On the ocean there is always something that can be done to keep the ship moving forward. In quarantine, I need to resist the temptation to turn on the TV.
      Stay healthy and happy, and thank you for following Flying Fish.


  2. With gratitude in our hearts, Tom and I are so glad to know you are safely home and under quarantine for safety. This has been a trip of a lifetime for you, and will begin again when allowed. Until then, safe sailing in your head and heart as you navigate the sailing of Flying Fish. So glad you were able to safely return home! Much love to Ginny. Also love to Lily when she returns as well. So glad your family has a safe and loving port in KW!


  3. Gutsy move Jeff but the right one.I guess quarantine in Key West simulator to being at the helm solo in the middle of the ocean.The good part is I suspect U won’t mind Ginny cooking for Ufor a while.Mary Lou are staying in Florida indefinitely as I am not about to board a flight to the Cape Cod area until this crisis is under control

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jeffrey,

    To think that you are just a couple blocks over is a new twist. I am sure you have so much adjusting, sorting, thinking to do while staying home and taking a break with Ginny. I’ve loved following your journey and will continue to.

    Cole is in lock-down in Fiji. We WhatsApp him regularly. He’s fine but also concerned, probably more about us, and of course, the reverse is for us. We are fine.

    Just read that you were home and wanted to say hi.

    Best. Helen


    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeffery happy you made it back to Key West safely. I am bunkering down on my nieces ranch near Fresno California. Please say hi to jimmy and Susan for me.

    Yours Reuben


  6. Jeffery happy you made it back to Key West safely. I am bunkering down on my nieces ranch near Fresno California. Please say hi to jinnyand Susan for me.

    Yours Reuben

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Prayers and thoughts always to you Jeff! I would make you some killer baby back ribs! Right from the smoker! And of course all the sides!! Stay well. Soon you can swim in the ocean- the only medication you need….🏝 keep those dreams alive! 💓

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha no mint tea and no hookah pipes for a while.
      Did I ever tell you the story about being surprised by 300-pound masseur dressed in a diaper who pummeled me on a bare marble bench in a Turkish bath? It seems like a lifetime ago, and my bones ache just remembering it.
      I am happy to be home.


  8. Jeff, I only know you through your posts. I’ve love living vicariously through you. I’m enjoying being sequestered on our pretty little island. My heart hurts for those out of work, but I’ve enjoyed the feeling of our small community without tourists and commercialism.

    Restlessness is well know to many but you had the courage to sail your dream. Bravo. Fair winds and following seas when you are able to go forward again. And thank you for the porthole view of your adventures. Health to you and your family, Marianne Nolan


  9. Hey Jeffrey! Glad to hear you made it back safely. Going to miss the updates from the other side of the world, but hopefully, you’ll be back out there soon. Enjoy your time at home!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Dan. My perspective on COVID-19 is simply personal. The virus affects everyone in different ways, many tragically. It will change the way we live and how we respond to each other, but it needn’t be the end of all things good. We will find the light in this dark moment.


  10. I wanted to thank you for bringing me along with you on your great adventure. I have enjoyed your trip from a far, in the quiet comfort of my home. You unknowingly have taken me along with you every step of the way. From the sale of your old boat , the order and final completion of Flying Fish to your decision to wait out our world’s current condition in the safe comfort of your family.
    I will patiently wait to find out when you will begin the final stage of our trip.

    You are never alone out there. You are taking the hopes and dreams of many people along with you.

    Thanks again…….

    Tom Ponche

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Tom, and thank you for being with the voyage from the outset–and staying with it during this time of uncertainty. I have no idea when I will sail again but in the meantime there are more important things to focus on. It doesn’t hurt to dream, though…


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