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Cruising in Quarantine

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a young family takes a break from long voyages and finds joy staying put in a small bay in Mexico.

September 23, 2020
Bahia Chamela
While not large, the area around Bahia Chamela turned out to have plenty to offer as a quarantine home. Andy Cross

As Yahtzee’s anchor bounces up into the roller, the bow slides to leeward with the gentle push of a warm 10-knot breeze blowing off a small beach town. When the wind is abeam, I unfurl the genoa with a snap and trim for a reach. Taking a seat at the helm, I steer for our destination, which is visible over a blue pane of water just 3 miles south. Down below, the boys, Porter, 7, and Magnus, 5, read books, and my wife, Jill, soon joins me to relax in the cockpit for the lazy sail to our next anchorage.

With COVID-19 restrictions now the norm, we’re entering week number eight of “Cruising in Place” and have once again completed our weekly provisioning run. When the uncertainty of coronavirus regulations swept through Mexico in March and April, cruisers scrambled to put their boats on the hard or find places to quarantine. We joined good friends on another kid boat in Bahia Chamela on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and Punta Perula—the small beach town at the north end of the bay—has become our haven to get the essentials.

Being aware of the delicate situation and our good fortune to be here, though, we try not to be a burden on the town or its residents. Our typical stop includes an overnight or two in the anchorage near town, and then a quick jaunt in for food. Topped up, we then sail south into the bay’s secluded islands and drop the hook in one of several anchorages available to us. Rinse and repeat.

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Off the coast of Mexico
Secluded anchorages close to a small town and coastline to explore, all just a quick sail away. Andy Cross

After consistently being on the move while sailing south from Alaska over the past year, we’ve rarely stayed in one place for long…until now. And our hunch that Bahia Chamela would be a suitable place to hit the brakes has fortunately come to fruition.

Going on month number three of calling this 8-by-5-mile section of sparsely populated coast our cruising quarantine home, our life has slowed considerably. Week after week, we’ve fallen into simple routines: cooking, baking, reading, writing, playing games, surfing, fishing, swimming and helping the boys with their schoolwork.

Like many people who are adjusting to these new circumstances, cruisers included, taking an extended pause has been an abrupt change for us. Albeit, not necessarily a bad one. Sailing far fewer miles than we’re used to has allowed us to gain a new perspective on cruising, and life in general, and has been a welcome respite at times.

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To be sure, the precariousness here and around the world has caused a level of anxiety that is hard to shake. But we continually remind ourselves how grateful we are to have found this place. In a way, free of hustle and bustle, it’s how life should be. Now more than ever, the two months we’ve spent in the bay have taught us not to take this time together, or our spot in the world, for granted. We’re just thankful to be here safe with each other.

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