Despite COVID-19, the time since the pandemic hit us has been an amazing one for me. As I reflect on how fortunate I have been, I find myself feeling guilty because my year has been so much better than others in the world.

The year 2020 began with us circumnavigating Tasmania on our yacht, Nichola. Click here if you wish to read the blog I wrote about that experience.

We caught up with sailing friends who we met in Vanuatu and made plans to sail their yacht back to New Caledonia for them. The plan was to sail their yacht from George Town to Noumea, New Caledonia, in April. We would then spend some time with them so that they would show us around the islands. Then we would fly back to Brisbane, collect a car we usually store at one of my daughter’s homes and make a road trip back with it down to Tasmania.

Wonderful, exciting plans. Our friends, Martin and Gwen, usually live aboard their vessel. Gwen had become pregnant during their travels and was experiencing debilitating morning sickness. They flew from Tasmania to France, where they enjoyed a holiday with family and friends. Then Covid happened. They managed to return to New Caledonia two days before the borders were closed.

We now have two sailing vessels to care for until we can sail No Soucy, their boat, to New Caledonia. We were fortunate to get two berths at the local marina, which has made life easier for us to check on the maintenance of both vessels. Our friends usually live aboard their vessel, and because they do not have it home in New Caledonia, they had to purchase a home to live on land, plus the marina expenses. Covid sure has impacted people in many different ways.

Gardening

Once the Covid-19 lockdown kicked in, and we began doing serious gardening at home. When sailing in New Zealand, we had a basil plant in a pot for a while, but that came to an aromatic end when Ken sat on it. We also tried bean sprouts, but they weren’t very successful.

Ken excelled in the growing of edible things, and I indulged my passion for propagating pretty plants. Our enthusiasm for working the soil resulted in more products than we could eat or freeze, and so many plants that I began selling them from the garden.

Lockdown gives Ken time to paint

A seascape painting by Ken during Covid-19.

Ken began painting again, and we opened a gallery in our double garage. Since we have been sailing, Ken has not been able to paint because working with oils on a moving vessel is impossible. Oil paints take ages to dry, and there is minimal space onboard Nichola, our 10m sailing vessel.

It has been exciting for me to watch Ken work. He seemed to improve tenfold with each new painting he did. In February, he held an exhibition of 30 paintings of the Furneaux Group of islands on Flinders Island. We sail there regularly and transported the paintings onboard Nichola. Click here to view his paintings.

Macrame is a great activity to share with friends

Fun tying knots

I rediscovered macrame that I enjoyed doing in the 70s and had fun holding workshops with friends and family members. I enjoy the delight people experienced when they looked at their completed macrame pot plant holders. It is indeed the little things in life that make it enjoyable.

People began coming into our yard to see the gallery and plants. Because of this, we have met some delightful, like-minded people in the community that we would never have if it were not for the Covid Lockdown.

Isn’t it funny how often a negative thing can bring so many positive things in its wake?

I have joined the local gardening club, a walking group, and we have become involved with an artist collective in our area.

Tasmania lifted the ruling for the number of people gathering in homes the week before my 70th birthday. I was able to have 40 friends attend my birthday celebrations in November. So very different to other places around the world.

It is now over a year since Tasmania has had a Covid-19 case. Tasmanians are still required to check into places such as galleries, restaurants for Covid tracing, and only airports and hospitals require the wearing of face masks.

Escaping another Tasmanian winter

Blueberry – a handy little vehicle used to provision a cruising yacht

When Covid-19 shut down the world, many cruisers were stranded in Australia. Ken and I had met many families with young children when we were cruising in the South Pacific, and we thought how difficult life would be for a family being stuck without transport. I offered a car that we keep in Brisbane to anyone stranded by the pandemic on a Facebook page, Women Who Sail Australia. The car is an old ‘bomb’ that we bought to use when we spent ten months on the pile moorings in Brisbane during 2017. We kept it at my daughter’s place and found it very convenient to use whenever we sailed up the Queensland coast.

A family with three children who were stuck in Bundaberg on their sailing vessel were pleased to take up our offer of the car. The kids named her ‘Blueberry’ and loved being able to go exploring around Queensland with her.

In May, they contacted us to say that they no longer needed Blueberry because they could sail freely again. They asked us if we wanted them to return the car to Brisbane before they sailed. We assured them that would not be necessary and used collecting Blueberry as a great excuse to escape the Tasmanian winter.

We flew up to Brisbane and took the Tilt Train to Bundaberg. We collected our car and enjoyed exploring over 6000km around Northern Queensland. Our plan to drive the vehicle back to Tasmania was put on hold when Victoria and New South Wales became shut down due to Covid-19 outbreaks.

We flew home to Tasmania and plan to resume our road trip once the current Covid outbreaks are under control.

To be sure, the pandemic has certainly changed our freedom to travel when, where and how we like. However, that is a small price to pay to enable us to protect people from the pandemic.