#IStayAtHome as if I’m Living on a Sailboat


#IStayAtHome is the hashtag representing this difficult time when we all have to stay at home and cannot go out. This now applies to everyone in the world, not just people like me who live in Milan, in northern Italy, the region where the epidemic has hit hardest in the past few weeks. COVID-19 is everyone’s problem.

And yet this forced seclusion reminds me of something. I love sailing, and when I was younger, I had the good fortune to go on a lot of long sailing trips and transoceanic voyages. This forced immobility reminds me of those experiences. I don’t mean I can see the ocean waves around me: I’m not crazy. But…

When I lived on board a boat for days on end, that 12 or 13 metre hull was all my living space, my whole world. And it didn’t matter if there were three of us or seven of us on board. Spaces that might have seemed claustrophobic to many people were perfect for me. I was, no doubt, lucky to feel this way. 

Today, I feel the same. The living room is my mess cabin, the bedroom my bunk, my balcony is my cockpit. This allows me to get through these difficult weeks with a tranquillity not everyone can find. Of course the fact that I can continue to work from home helps pass the time; I don’t have to keep coming up with ways of keeping myself busy.

My wife has always viewed sailing as a short vacation, anchoring and going ashore to visit the towns along the coast. I tried to explain to her how I feel. She looked at me as if I were crazy, shaking her head in resignation, just as she did when I told her of my nights spent at the helm, wrapped up in raingear.

No, you can’t understand, unless you’re a sailor like me. But if you are, perhaps you can understand how I feel. So let’s keep using the hashtag #IStayAtHome

Because it’s only right to stay at home now. This is what we can do to help, and to make sure we will soon get back to scrutinising the waves in search of the breeze.

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