What follows is a multi-part series on ways Nordhavn and Nordhavn owners are facing the many challenges posed by the novel Coronavirus.<
Navigating Uncharted Waters
For James and Jennifer Hamilton, cruising has been a way of life for 8 years. They’ve extensively traveled both coasts of the U.S., Australia, the southern tip of Africa and the Caribbean essentially non-stop with no end to their journey in sight. It’s been a passion project for the Hamiltons to see and experience the world from the safe, comfortable confines of their Nordhavn 52, and they have had the great fortune to do so, covering 74,000 nm around the globe and recording their adventures on their exceptional blog mvdirona.com.
But cruising life is still life, nonetheless, and the Hamiltons are not immune to the challenges and anxiety posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. They currently lie in the UK, but it’s not where they thought they would be a week ago. Last week they were planning on heading to the Med, en route to France and Spain for the remainder of spring and then on to Italy this summer. But the Coronavirus changed all that. “We’re now going to cruise Scotland,” said Jennifer from on board Dirona.”It’s a completely different trip but the boat is equally good in busy marinas throughout France and Italy as it will be cruising the natural beauty of Scotland.” When the U.S. closed its borders to all Schengen countries, the Hamiltons were just two days from arriving in France and grew increasingly concerned. They knew it wasn’t the right time to be visiting those countries. Since the boat was carrying 1,100 gallons of fuel and was well-provisioned their diversion options were many. The Med would just have to wait for now, said Jennifer, noting they will likely circle back to the places being bypassed later in the season or into the next. “For now, Scotland calls!”
Having spent years at sea, the Hamiltons have never once had to adjust on the fly for anything other than weather. As they’ve slowly worked their way around the world, there haven’t been health crises, wars, or mechanical issues, nor have they had to wait for parts in port. “Basically…we’ve just watched the weather and enjoyed the trip,” said Jennifer.
Up until now, that is. Like most, when news broke of the Coronavirus epidemic facing China, the Hamiltons were mindful of the potential for spread, but initially, it did not factor in their plans. Even as Europe was being dubbed “the new China”, there was little impact to their short term travels. Having wintered in the Netherlands, Jennifer said there was little evidence of the virus; when they left Amsterdam in mid-February there were only 150 cases in the country. They moved on to Belgium where they had stayed until last week, and found less evidence there. “We continued to be vigilant and avoided really crowded trains and washed our hands more,” but beyond that, life went on fairly typically. Things are rapidly evolving on a daily basis and Jennifer says she knows the UK is not the perfect solution, but they chose it because Jennifer has a UK passport plus they have yet to fully explore Scotland’s great cruising destinations. “It’s the wrong time for big cities and museums and so we’ll head to an area of great natural beauty and less crowds,” Jennifer said. “That’s the beauty of an ocean-capable boat. We can have plans, and then get underway the same day with completely different plans.”
Having to make the decision – choosing Scotland over France – is in itself a luxury. The Hamiltons are aware of this fact as millions of Americans hunker down in their homes. “We’re worried about the impact (Coronavirus) is having world-wide on both people and economies and we hope it passes quickly,” says Jennifer. “But it underlines how lucky we are to be sitting in a well-stocked and comfortable boat.”
With the rapid daily changes that occur due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all information contained is accurate and up-to-date as of the time of posting.