10 tools cruising sailors bring to the stay-at-home table
Ocean Navigator|September - October 2020
On March 19, as Jon and I finished setting the hook in Corong Corong Bay, Palawan, we were approached by the Philippine coast guard and told to leave. The enhanced community quarantine was newly in effect, and we were unwelcome.
Sue Muller Hacking

We pled our case and were finally granted permission to stay, as long as we stayed aboard for the first 14 days. So, with the sails stowed and the anchor set, we hunkered down under the towering limestone cliffs of El Nido. Far from being upset by this, we told ourselves it was one more adventure, and settled into a routine of, well, hanging out on the boat. I blithely began writing essays about how prepared we yachties are for this sort of thing. I figured there were 10 tools we bring to this “stay-at-home” table — tools that at-home sailors might relate to.

I didn’t know how deeply I would have to dig into that toolbox to survive in these uncharted seas we’re sailing. But I am grateful for the voyaging life that has honed these skills.

1. Flexibility: Despite the fanatic independence of most cruisers, living on the sea is humbling. There are things we can’t control — the seasons, the tides, winds and weather. The result is that we often have to change plans, even huge plans, based on those or other factors. Postpone a trip to the States? Check. Postpone a trip to Africa? Check. Postpone our son’s wedding? Ouch, but check.

I thought we were prepared, but the truth is that all those previous times of having to change plans or shelter from a storm had an end in sight. A plan to be made. Something fun to look forward to. After 50 days of lockdown, we see no end in sight; we have no chart of the months ahead. The Philippines has no plan to open ports.

2. Preparedness: As voyaging sailors, we never know when we might stay in some remote destination longer than expected, or encounter bad weather that delays our departure or return, so we prepare for the long haul. We keep cash dollars on hand for the day the ATMs are offline. We stock the boat with food and necessities to last for months. We don’t hoard, but we provision thoughtfully and then prepare food with care so that we don’t run out of essentials.

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