Point of View: The Escape Pod

In these crazy times, what better way to social distance than on a well-prepared cruising boat?

San Blas Islands
Schooner One World at anchor in the San Blas Islands.Courtesy of Todd Duff

I’m a marine surveyor and long-time cruiser, and something quite interesting has come to my attention of late: World events and in particular recent developments with this new pandemic have brought about a fairly urgent response from many people who feel the need to “get away” to protect themselves and their loved ones. Gun sales are reported to be at record highs and the pressing desire to feel safe seems to be on many people’s minds. I’ve seen all sorts of news stories and Facebook posts of really discontented and unhappy, maybe even scared people out there that want to extricate themselves from the madness, but just don’t know how or where to go about doing it.

And then there are the sailors. These people DO know how to get away, and most have a pretty good idea of where to go and how to go about it. Some of these are the lucky few who already own an ocean-going sailboat they could escape on if and when the local environment gets just a little too dangerous or uncomfortable. I would not be surprised over the coming years to see a much higher number of people heading out to go world cruising if for no better reason than to distance themselves from the potential health risks of big cities and the heated and sometimes deliberately misleading rhetoric of politics to reassess their lives out on the open ocean, visiting tropical islands, remote high-latitude bays or small countries where one can still find solitude and welcoming people, peace in place of hysteria, convolution, strife and relative safety from the risk of rapidly spreading pathogenic illnesses.

These lucky people own sailboats that could best be described as “escape pods.” Like the science-fiction books and movies, where large spaceships have escape pods to allow people to get away when danger threatens the integrity of their mothership, world cruising sailboats can offer the same safety net for sailors who realize that until things settle down again at home, or if things get just too uncomfortable, that their own escape pods can carry them far away to the safety of distant shores, unaffected by the viral outbreaks or the aftermath of bad government decisions. Granted that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic many countries have closed borders, but this pandemic will pass and the important thing may be to be in a position for the next one that will surely come along, and to have a boat and plan to sail to a small and safe place to wait things out. We correspond with many cruising friends all over the world who positioned themselves in remote areas prior to the current border closures and have been allowed to stay, unmolested, until things stabilize.

If you are fed up with the way the society you have been living in is headed and are lucky enough to have the ability to sail, or are at least willing to learn, then maybe you should consider taking on the vagabond lifestyle of the world cruising sailor. We are not total dropouts. We pay our taxes, we keep in contact with family and friends via email and calls, and we even occasionally fly home to visit loved ones, but what we don’t do is sit quarantined in our urban or suburban homes in debt, taxed, charged or everything from water to electricity (which we get free from the sky, the sun and wind) and with our every move regulated and constricted.

Ready for a change? Go find yourself an escape pod and jettison the trappings of modern society that are keeping you held as a prisoner of a world that seems sometimes to have lost its sense of reason. Escape to the freedom of the open ocean and see where the four winds will take you. There is still a great big world out there and it’s yours to discover. Hop onboard your escape pod and head out. You are a prisoner no longer; freedom is just over the horizon!

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