Silver Linings

24 March 2020 By Erica Lay

Let’s face it — lock down sucks. People are losing jobs and money, businesses are closing, we’re all facing uncertainty but STOP! Just for a minute. Let’s have a little breather from all the doom and gloom and consider the positives we, and the world, are experiencing while we’re all under isolation.

Apparently, the world is able to breathe again, and hopefully in time wildlife really will bounce back and numbers of certain species will recover (don’t believe everything you see on Facebook though; dolphins haven’t been seen skipping up the Venice canals. Yet…). That being said, Newsweek reported March 24 that due to the transport industries screeching to a halt, the levels of CO2 in our air has been massively reduced. China and Italy’s levels of nitrogen dioxide has also been reduced.  

As businesses have been closed, the overall consumption of electricity has dropped, which in turn reduces emissions. While Venice’s canals may not have seen Flipper, reports are coming in that the water is much clearer. It’s possibly due to the lack of boats stirring up the bottom, but I’d like to think it’s also down to the lack of tourism and therefore sewage in the waterways.

So what other good stuff is happening, especially in our yachting industry? Wondering if I’d get any responses (or abuse!), I asked the question across my Facebook platforms to the yachting community: “What’s been your silver lining throughout this experience so far?” I was actually taken aback to see a huge number of comments in just a matter of hours. Reading them put a smile on my face, and I hope it helps others see the positives in an otherwise difficult situation.

Deck/Stewardess (and a bit of a cook) Lucia Exposito Bagshaw told me how she’d just dropped a bag of groceries over the garden wall for their 93-year-old neighbor while isolated in the UK. And she saw another person drop groceries off on another doorstep over the road, so kindness is coming forth for sure.

Here in Palma, co-owner of Mediterranean Cooling Towers Geoff Clarke said, “I left eighty euros with our local grocer lady to help out any locals who can’t afford things when they come in. I hope it helps someone.” I’m sure it will.

Over in Barcelona, freelance interior worker Anahi Calienes was happy to report she’s “reconnected with the other half of my life — Pilates.” She’s started teaching live on Insta to friends and colleagues all over the world. A real personal gain from this, she says, is “this makes me feel like I’m not alone.” And I think we could all do with a bit of that.

Lots of people are “finally” getting started on yoga programs, Pilates programs, or are just trying out new home workouts. I’m currently smashing through a 30-day yoga challenge after not having done it in two years and am getting right into it again. And not to mention studying — there are lots of online courses available through many different sources (far too many to list, a quick Google search will turn up plenty, just pick a subject and go!). Chef Kate Butling told me, “I’m trying to get my Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification finished.” And like many, she’s doing some teaching herself. Not publicly but she’s teaching her boyfriend how to cook over WhatsApp from Croatia.

There’s been a lot of person to person reconnecting, lots of crew getting back in touch with old friends and colleagues they’ve not spoken to in far too long. And a lot of yachting wives and partners are quite happy to have their significant other unexpectedly home. There’s been a huge amount of video calling — we’re so lucky to live in an age where we can connect visually with our loved ones. Checking in on each other has given so many a sense of community and has helped prevent people feeling alone, or worse, lonely.

Chief Stewardess Malgorzata Scheidle, currently isolating in the South of France in the apartment she shares with her husband, told me about the app “house party.” She’s been chatting with three other women in the yachting industry and said they’ve all got common ground. They’ve found it really helpful to connect with new people in the same boat.

But not everyone’s in isolation ashore — quite a few of us are still working on yachts all across the world. “I’m feeling lucky to have a job right now earning a decent salary,” Chief Stewardess Gina Moody said. “Friends of mine in London (couples) are trying to survive on single salaries. I’ve organized surprise food boxes to be delivered to them tomorrow. We all gotta stick together!”

Chief Engineer Mark Hounsome shared the sentiment that he was happy to be employed, albeit under quarantine. He calls it “enforced saving” and is looking forward to spending it when all of this passes.

Capt. Abby Emery, currently on board her sailing yacht in Antigua with her crew, told me she’s taken up gardening. On the yacht. She’s currently working on keeping two basil plants and a coriander plant alive. “I think the world is going to be a lovely place when [we] come out of the other side of this madness!” she says. “I think — hope — everyone will appreciate the more simple things in life, the importance of checking in on friends and family, [and] that it’s a privilege to be able to just pop out to the shops, to hope on a plane and go on holiday/home as easily as it is to be able to go out for a nice meal….” I hope people remember this time and don’t take our future activities for granted.

One major silver lining I think many of us over in Europe will agree about came from Andrew Quarterman, former yacht captain and owner of a classic car and boat repair business here in Mallorca, Mr Q’s: “They’ve cancelled Eurovision! Bloody brilliant.” It saves the UK another nil point humiliation.

A rather interesting point was raised by Chef Anton Hehn. “This self-isolation and separation from others is making me think about how quickly the world can change — what and who I take for granted,” he says. It’s important to stop, breathe, and feel a little gratitude for the simple things and for all the people in our lives we rely on. Hehn added that it’s also made him aware of his bad habits and bad choices and has made him focus more on what’s important and what he doesn’t need. For those of us housebound, or even cabin bound, it’s a great opportunity to have a look at our possessions, clothes, shoes, clutter, and have a good clear out. As Marie Kondo says, get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy! Please note that does not include the person or persons you’re in quarantine with….

It’s also been quite an eye opener for me with regards to social media. When something this serious happens, you do see some people starting to show their true colors, and it’s a good opportunity to cleanse the old friends’ list — cutting out toxic people who share fake news, conspiracies, are unkind to others, or just spread doom and gloom unnecessarily has been a lovely relief for me and I know plenty of others who are re-prioritizing their friends’ lists as a result of this. It’s proving to be excellent time for self-reflection.

Over in Newport, captain of an expedition vessel Maiwenn Beadle reminisces about last summer, which they spent up in the far north, out of reach of people and provisions. “This is just the same except without the ice to dodge,” she says. “And less chance of someone getting eaten by a polar bear. There’s no stress, and deadlines are meaningless. There is no planning to be done since no one knows when and if they can come. We can’t get parts [from] contractors so no pressure to push on the job list. We are already self-sufficient and stocked, so now we can just settle in. Plenty of time to do the accounts. I finally get to read the Arctic library we collected. The spirit of caring and outreach is amazing.”

Some people are a little more extreme, like Chef Andrea Hart. “I am LOVING being self-quarantined!” she says. “I don’t have to drive, I am chatting with friends I haven’t had a chance to for a long time and cleaning up my Pampered Chef images to find them more easily when creating posts.” It’s great to see so many people making the most of the lock down to work on personal projects, and do a bit of life admin.

I think it’s important to note, however, that it’s also okay to do absolutely nothing. It’s okay to have an unproductive day, to sit on the sofa or lie in your bunk and watch Netflix all day. You don’t have to do something new or productive every day; this is new territory for all of us so it’s a learning curve and important we listen to our own bodies and minds to do what makes us happy.

One thing that keeps sticking in my mind, though, is how strange it is to think we are currently living through a history and a science lesson that the next generations will study. Weird, huh?

For more related content:

Crew Consequences of COVID-19

COVID-19 Precautions

COVID-19 Effects: Events, Travel, and Operations

Staying Calm on Facebook