A good place
22 March 2020 | Town Basin Marina, Whangarei, NZ
It's amazing how quickly things have changed.
Two weeks ago, the biggest question Eric and I were considering was, "should we spend some time cruising in New Caledonia, in addition to Fiji?"
Now, the big question is "what happens when our visas expire?"
I thought I'd check in, during this time of coronavirus mayhem, to let you know how the crew of SCOOTS is doing, and where we are in the world.
We're doing fine, and we're in a good place.
Wherever SCOOTS happens to be, is home. Right now, home is Whangarei, New Zealand. We're happy to be here. The autumn weather is nice; many of our friends are here; there are plenty of things to do; the store shelves are fully stocked, there's plenty of toilet paper; Kiwis are friendly, and New Zealand is beautiful.
We typically hang out here until May or June, when the weather starts to get annoyingly cold, and then sail up to the Pacific Islands to enjoy winter in the tropics. This year, things might be a bit more complicated, as New Zealand, Australia, and most of the Pacific Islands have shut their borders to visitors indefinitely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It's a good thing that we like it here, because we may end up staying longer than we'd planned. How much longer? We don't know.
We're happy here and we're better off than those cruisers who were overseas when the borders were closed, and now can't get back to their boats in NZ; or the ones who'd planned to sail across the Pacific this year and discovered as they were preparing to leave that there was no longer any place to make landfall in the South Pacific; or the ones who left before the restrictions were enacted and upon arriving in French Polynesia after several weeks at sea were told that they had two options: (1) find a place to leave your boat and fly home, or (2) fuel up, reprovision, and sail away.
It's a complicated time to be a nomad.
We're flexible; we could live with scratching our plans to sail to the islands and instead spend some extra time in New Zealand. But in a few months, our visas will expire. What's going to happen then, if the Islands are still closed to visitors? At the moment, we don't know.
This question has been a hot topic every time two or more cruisers gather. Nobody thinks we'll be deported. We're all hopeful that NZ Immigration officials, recognizing the unusual circumstances of the times, will enact a reasonable policy that will allow us to stay until we can sail away. Time will tell.
Hopefully, we won't have to find out. Hopefully, the restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to be relaxed before our visas expire. This would be a good thing. Not just for us, but for humanity as a whole.
Wherever you are, we wish you the best.