Sailing the Bakery
Traveling with few plans, baking with few recipes
Living Aboard in a Pandemic: COVID-19 and other things

Living Aboard in a Pandemic: COVID-19 and other things

Well this is unexpected. When we decided to live on Twig a little over 3 years ago, I didn’t expect to have to do so during a pandemic. I had swirled every sailing scenario through my head, but never added a pandemic to the list. Nonetheless, we’re used to change and we feel mostly prepared to weather this storm of sorts. I’ve been a practiced hand-washer and germ freak for some time now, learning from my grandma at a young age how to get through public places without touching surfaces. It’s a wonder how I ever worked in a hospital for 3 years in total…it feels like a distant time now. If you didn’t know this about me I would have congratulated myself in past times for appearing “normal,” but now that this is your new normal, I finally feel okay to be myself! I’ve always wanted to go out in public with gloves on!

For as long as I can remember my mother has been saying, “Any day you’re not in a hospital is a good day.” I used to laugh and claim this was her being “old” but take particular heart in this message now…only I think to myself, “Any day everyone I know is at home and not in the hospital, is a good day.” This could change at any moment and that’s stressful.

As long as we’re on the subject of quotable advice, my dear friend Amber once (well probably more than once) said, “We do what we can, and not what we can’t.” I’ve repeated this countless times and in countless scenarios to myself, Kai, and Rev over the years, but it’s especially useful now. Focusing on what we can do in this time has helped tremendously…just like it does when something on Twig breaks. We have no choice but to do what we can and not stress about what we can’t do.

What we have done so far:

  1. We canceled travel to MN in April. We were really excited to see family and friends and attend my cousin’s wedding (Rev was really pumped to dance the electric slide!), but I feel confident that will all happen again…hopefully in July as we’re now planning. It’s amazing how we’ve taken travel for granted. We’ve changed travel plans before but this is particularly hard on us and our family as we want to be close in this time.
  2. We’ve provisioned Twig with enough food to survive for a long time. We may not eat like kings and queens, but we’ll be fine. We’re used to weird mixtures of food and we’re easy going with food. Maybe we’ll finally have more incentive to work harder at fishing. It’s really no different than planning for an ocean passage or going to The Bahamas. If you want tips, you can read my article on provisioning for The Bahamas.
  3. We have ample propane for 6-8 months at the moment. With the amount of baking and cooking I do, we can only last about 3-4 months on one 20 lb propane tank. By the time we run out we’re planning on being in Maine and will hopefully have access to a refill at our favorite refill stop in Northeast Harbor! Even if we ran out we could always use the microwave!
  4. We’ve stayed home. Luckily this is nothing new to us. I shopped for most of our food on February 28th, long before anyone at the grocery stores even knew about Coronavirus. I asked the store clerks if they saw anyone else buying the amount of rice I did, and they said they hadn’t heard anything about “a coronavirus.” We don’t go out much and our once every few weeks dinner out can easily be swapped for an indulgent night on Twig.
  5. We’ve purchased equipment to heat our boat. Once installed, this will only be able to be done while running the engine, (by circulating the coolant throughout radiators placed in different zones of Twig) but that’s okay for now. The next phase would be buying a diesel heater which would tie into this same infrastructure we’re investing in now. We currently have a reverse cycle heater/air-conditioner, but it’s only viable if the water temperature is warm enough.
  6. We’ve changed our plans a bit to head north earlier than expected, thus the heater. We aren’t wanting to get stuck in a hurricane zone and aren’t afraid of the cold. We launched our first boat, Owl, in Lake Superior in 24 degrees F (-4 C) while it was snowing, and actually launched Twig in those exact conditions in Annapolis a few years later. We’re planning on remaining isolated wherever we “land.”

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The cockpit of our old boat, Owl, on launch day. It was so cold but now we laugh about it.

The cockpit of our old boat, Owl, on launch day. It was so cold but now we laugh about it.

What we CAN control:

  1. Our attitudes: we’re not always good at this in non-pandemic times but we’re working on it. I’ve noticed my stress level rising over the last few weeks and I’m trying to remember to breathe and read things other than the news. Keeping some normalcy for Rev is important so she isn’t psychologically damaged by this.
  2. My baking: well I can’t really control myself but I can think differently about what and how I bake. When my Lebanese ancestors didn’t have yeast, they made flat bread and it made the yeasted bread that much more special.
  3. Our income: We’re very thankful that we both have jobs that are so far unaffected by a pandemic. That might change at any moment (although my employer has promised us well all have a job for at least a year or more) but for now we’re just thankful to have one less thing to worry about.
  4. Our distance: we live at anchor, unattached to land and far from people most of the time. We’re self sufficient and so is Twig to do this for extended periods of time. We can make energy and water and we have an 8 year old for entertainment. What more do you need?
  5. Our communication with others: we’ve already been talking to our family and friends more and it’s been really nice. Kai’s been working on a data website project to view the amount of COVID-19 cases AS WELL AS the amount of tests done by each state. It’s called It’s another way to communicate with the world.
  6. Patience: Everyone is dealing with something in non-pandemic times. Patience with ourselves and others is even more important now.
  7. Our health regimen: I’m a fan of zinc, vitamin C & D (especially the sun), probiotics, echinacea, apple cider vinegar, and goldenseal.
  8. Information: We’re trusting scientists and actual experts in the field, and not a certain narcissistic child who is somehow still allowed to be in the White House.

We’re lucky to have our health and our home, Twig, and hope everyone stays well and safe during this time. A lot of boats and land people are affected by this and it’s a stressful and scary time. As someone who is used to uncertainty, even this is particularly hard, and viruses/outbreaks/pandemics are basically my worst nightmare. We can’t control that but we can adjust our sails and proceed. We’ll get through this together, apart.