Surviving Isolation

Thursday May 28

Today is our seventy fourth day since departing from our normal (cruising) life on leaving Djibouti. It has not been solitary confinement but a rather extreme form of semi-isolation in the company of a slow changing cast made up from the crews of the few other boats we have encountered enroute.

This morning I read an interesting short article on Shackleton and how the crew of the Endeavour survived trapped on the Antarctic ice for so long. Now I know we haven’t had long dark nights or extreme cold but we have been confined to a fourteen metre long space with few opportunities to get off whilst things others have been able to do during land-based lockdowns going to the shops or for a walk have been denied us. Regular exercise has been impossible, meals are made from what others interpreted our shopping list into, maintenance has been down to our combined ingenuity, survival down to the sharing of knowledge and resources.

Though recovering slowly from the extremes of the Red Sea we still find life quite challenging. Shackleton and other Antarctic hands spoke of vital mental medicine that routine, a weekly sing-along diversion and the vision of a positive future brought. It rang true with me.

On Temptress the crew have developed over the course of our ocean passages, a loose routine that marks the way through each day at sea. This has become even more engrained during these past months with meals, tea breaks, night watches and even sundowners as the milestones that mark the passing of the hours. Activities like making bread, laundry, navigation, reading and boat maintenance fill the spaces between. Routine has kept our lives together.

The Antarctic explorers played dominoes each evening and had weekly concerts; we play canasta or cribbage most evenings and have joined with other crews for BBQs when circumstances allow. It’s been good to relax and forget the situation we are in even if only for an hour or two.

Routine and diversion have played a large part in our seventy four days, whilst the goal to sustain us has been of living life back in the UK or even more simply the opportunity to ‘choose our own toothpaste’ as one of our co-strandees put it yesterday. Saturday, our first day ashore, is going to be a fabulous day!

3 comments

  1. Well done. Interesting comparisons in principle. Not so bad now though by the look of things.

    Ronald A Sams currently in SA

    SA +27726864466 UK +447734288891

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  2. I salute you two. I am more than impressed by your calm acceptance of where you find yourselves, the problem solving skills you possess, the combined sailing expertise that you have and the acceptance of how the world is. We on land have been bombarded hourly by the enormity of this virus. It is so tragic and unbelievable that the WHOLE WORLD is affected, not just our little corners. That is the soberingly scarey truth of this and will we ever return to normal, whatever that is now? Achingly sad from one perspective, yet is this the new normal we need to embrace?

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  3. Hi Kevin and Susie,
    I just found your blog through the CNN article and it has been very interesting reading it. So much more informative than the video blogs – you actually have detailed information and I signed up to follow. I am particularly interested in the current situation in Greece. My wife and I are retiring this month and we have purchased a Lagoon 42 that is on the hard in Marmaris (Turkey). We have a launch date of July 30th with the boatyard and plan to travel there in July and spend some time on the Turkish coast but quickly check into Greece where we hope to spend most of the summer. By coincidence I grew up in Cork and moved to Boston in 1988 where we raised our 3 boys. I am on WhatsApp and would love to connect to understand options for entry to Greece and other cruising insights. Our boat will be US registration but we also have Irish passports.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Fred

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