International Sailboat Racer Stranded after Shutdown

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Meg Reilly, who runs the international sailing team Ocean Racers with her partner Morgen Watson, was just at the beginning of her Caribbean racing season when St Maarten went into lockdown, leaving her and Watson stranded at anchor aboard their Pogo 12.50 Hermes. With the shutdown being continually extended, it is unclear how much longer they will have to remain, but it is unlikely that the island will reopen before hurricane season officially begins on June 1.

One month ago, Reilly was racing yachts in the Heineken Regatta by day and partying with thousands of international sailors by night. Now, she is living on little resources, fortunate that they had prepared the yacht for self-sustainability long before they knew the pandemic would occur. The grocery stores on the island were closed for two weeks after the shutdown was announced, and now they are only open three days a week.

“We’re all being asked to hold our breaths indefinitely. Underwater we can hold our breath without panic when we know where the surface is. It lays there as a promise, a barrier we can swim to and break through to breathe again. But what about now when there is no surface in sight? What do we do? Grow gills and learn to live in this new environment?” Reilly writes.

Reilly’s business depends on sporting events and international travel, but those two industries will likely be the last to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. She had invested a lot of money into a major refit last year and into preparing the boat for this season, but now the season is over just as it was getting started. Read more about Reilly’s experience quarantined at anchor here

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