A couple who have been travelling the world by yacht was completely oblivious to the coronavirus pandemic until they tried to dock in the Caribbean and were told many islands had closed their borders.
Elena Manighetti, from Lombardy in Italy, and Ryan Osbourne, from Manchester in the UK, decided to travel the world together by boat after quitting their jobs in 2017.
In February of this year, the couple left the Canary Islands and planned to make their over to St Vincent, a Caribbean island which is about 3,000 miles away.
At the time of departing, the couple were aware that the coronavirus was affecting China. Yet they had no idea how extensively the virus had spread or that it had been officially declared a pandemic. Before setting off on their journey around the world, they had told their families they did not want to be informed of any bad news.
Manighetti told the BBC: “In February we’d heard there was a virus in China, but with the limited information we had, we figured by the time we got to the Caribbean in 25 days it would all be over.
“We told our shore contacts we didn’t want to hear any bad news, which was a difficult job as it was pretty bad news.“
The couple eventually made it to the Caribbean after 25 days at sea. During this time they had had no access to any mobile phone signal and including in this, access to the news from the outside world.
Yet the seriousness of the pandemic soon dawned on the couple when they found out they wouldn’t be able to dock at several ports. Many borders had had no choice but to close due to new lockdown restrictions.
Osborne said: “We first attempted to land in one of the French territories in the Caribbean but when we arrived we found all the borders were closed and the islands were closing down.
“Even at that point, we assumed it was a preventative measure due to the high season. We thought the islands didn’t want to run the risk of a few tourists infecting the locals.“
Authorities initially told Manighetti that as she is natively from Lombardy in Italy, which has been badly impacted by the coronavirus, that she wouldn’t be able to dock her yacht. Thankfully, she and her husband managed to prove that they had been at sea whilst the coronavirus spread, as they had their journey tracked on their GPS.
If anything, the couple had unintentionally been quarantining during their time on the boat together for 25 days.
Currently, the couple are in Bequia, Saint Vincent, and are unable to continue their travels, despite hoping they could explore the Caribbean before the start of hurricane season in June.
Manigetti said that fortunately, her family are safe and well but added that she and her husband are “sandwiched between the hurricane season and the virus”.