Coronavirus, Patrick Phelipon: “Stopped at the buoy in the Azores, hope to fuel!”

“We still have supplies, we just hope they will let us dock for fuel.”
Speaking, with his usual seraphic calm, is ocean sailor Patrick Phelipon (a Whitbread together Tabarly, many designed boats behind him, a life in Italy among Cino Ricci’s ‘favorites’), stopped at the buoy in front of the Horta Marina (Azores), struggling with Portuguese bureaucracy slowed by anti-coronavirus regulations.

Patrick had sailed from Martinique on Aldo Fumagalli’s trimaran Neel 47 Minimole. (with which he won the ARC Plus, found in the April issue, on newsstands and digitally, the beautiful story of the crossing) and now, having arrived in the Portuguese archipelago, all he has to do is wait. “As soon as we are able to refuel, we will study when to resume the boat transfer: we may set sail for Gibraltar on Sunday morning.”

Patrick Phelipon at left and skipper Marco Corno at Arc Plus with Minimole

You hear all kinds of things on the web: people being fined in Italy for moving a boat while ashore triggered the “everyone home” decree to deal with the health emergency, sailors around the world who don’t know which way to turn, others being stuck in quarantine in marinas.

“In our case, there should be no problem,” Phelipon says, cautiously. “The crew and I are relocating the boat for work., and I don’t think we will face sanctions. We didn’t start from Italy, after all! It may be that we will make a stop in southern Portugal before Gibraltar. From there we should then head to France, because the boat has to be taken to Cannes.”

What about the situation in France? “I have a skipper friend who arrived in Nice these days after a transfer from La Rochelle: they had him docked and gave him the option of renting a car to return to La Rochelle. We hope well, we will, however, inquire well before we set sail.”

And he is right, Patrick to inquire. Portugal, for example, is enforcing very restrictive measures against coronavirus, and as ocean sailor Sergio Frattaruolo, who lives in Lisbon where he has his Extreme Sailing Academy, told us,“every marina here is enforcing a different policy. Notwithstanding the fact that Portugal has stopped tourist traffic (so ferries and passenger ships, ed.), some ports have just closed. I have a friend who was moving his boat and found his marina (the one in Cascais, where he had the berth), closed. He had to keep going until he got to the marina in Lisbon where I keep the boat.”

In case we need to specify it again: those who sail these days, even in international waters, are doing so solely for work reasons that cannot be deferred. Stay at home (or on the boat, if you live aboard), dear sailors!


(Cover photo: Fabio Taccola)


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