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  • Britta Fjelstrom

Life Aboard During Shelter in Place

These are interesting times in which we find ourselves. Many people can’t help but feel the stress and anxiety in the air but in the midst of a global pandemic and an order to stay at home I find myself quite content. Over the past few years I have embraced (and stopped apologizing for) my introversion. Being directed to spend all day at home, alone, sounded like heaven to me especially since my home is a Nantucket Island 38 sailboat and... my happy place.


The first day of quarantine I wanted to be official and do something sailor-y, I hoisted the quarantine “Q” flag vowing to keep it up until this is all over. Hoisting the flag brought back memories of my adventures in the South Pacific where we were quarantined in each port, flying the Q flag hoping all governmental agencies would get to us quickly so we could get off the boat. The next few days I busied myself with boat projects. The projects ranged from replacing spiral wrap on some electrical cables and hanging a new fruit basket to reorganizing all the storage spaces in the V-berth and wrestling with the water heater which decided to stop working the weekend before the shelter in place started. Thankfully, I was still able to order parts for my water heater repair but after replacing all the usual suspects, I still have no hot water. But when you are quarantined alone, showers are optional, aren’t they? When projects were checked off my “to do” list, I spent time reading, doing puzzles and baking cookies for dinner. The second week I thought I would elevate my social distancing to a new level. I decided to go anchor the boat for a while. Choosing to go anchor was also a way to feel I was in control, I was choosing to self-isolate rather than have it forced upon me. I took my boat to my favorite place to anchor in the Bay, Clipper Cove. The Cove is one of my favorite spots because it feels like you are in another world, somewhere almost tropical when you view the lush backdrop of Yerba Buena Island. Yet, with the Bay Bridge towering off in the distance, you are reminded that you are still connected to a bustling city and the rest of the world.



This was my first time anchoring my “new” boat and my first time using a windlass! How awesome are windlasses? When I arrived at Treasure Island early in the morning, I was the only boat anchored in the cove...at least until the afternoon when several boats having the same idea cruised in. I spent the next five days doing what I always do at anchor, I alternated between reading, eating/drinking and napping. I would usually hide down below until the sun came out and then spend the rest of the time in the cockpit enjoying the view, reading or carrying on a conversation with a seagull who kept violating the six foot social distancing rule.



For the first couple days at anchor, I could still physically feel the remnants of stress and anxiety not brought on by the pandemic but by the hoarders who caused a shortage of toilet paper, flour and (weirdly) vanilla extract. As a physical education teacher I frequently talk with my students on how bad stress can be and what they can do to relieve it. I decided I needed to practice what I preached and started a habit of going to the bow right before sunset for a yoga session. My boat has a flush deck so it’s perfect for doing yoga or having a disco dance party. Yoga was followed by 10 minutes of guided meditation from my favorite app Head Space. The results were immediate. I felt more calm, relaxed and even slept better! I also stopped worrying about dragging anchor or running out of fresh water which allowed me to enjoy my time in the cove even more. I even managed to get out my hammock and my ukulele. It was a great vacation from what is going on in the world.




Back at the marina, I settled into reading, cooking and enjoying running things off shore power. I dove back into projects, mostly cleaning and organizing (you should see my spice drawer) and even got out my sewing machine despite being haunted by the “C-” I received for sewing class in middle school. I also started back to work, learning to transition from in-person teaching to “online learning”. I am very grateful to still be able to work and get a paycheck. I enjoy creating curriculum so it’s been fun (and challenging) to come up with opportunities to virtually get high school aged students to get off the couch and get active. Although not as consistent, and weather dependent, I’ve continued to do yoga and meditation. Once, while on my way to the bow to meditate, I inadvertently ended up in a happy hour with my neighbors. I saw my neighbors on the bows of their boat having cocktails and I quickly raided my galley for a cold one and joined them from the bow of my boat for cocktails, conversation and laughter. I feel I am better suited than most to endure this time of quarantine. As an introvert I’m okay with being alone for long periods of time and as a sailor/cruiser I know that sometimes you just have to do without, whether it be a certain food or hot water. So I’m doing good. I’m getting projects completed, I’m cooking and baking more, I’ve read 4 books in the past few weeks, and I’ve even learned how to fingerpick “Happy Birthday” on the ukulele. Some days I feel bad that I am enjoying this time of shelter in place because I know that people are struggling. My hope is that everyone who is struggling during this time can take a deep breath, get out into the sunshine, and treat yourself to something fun and positive today. I hope this article and the good vibes I’m sending your way will uplift your spirits and carry you through however many days remain in our shelter in place. There are still good things out there on the horizon.



Britta Fjelstrom

S/V Vacilando

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