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Sailing the world, 400 years on from the Mayflower

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

Just like our Mayflower ancestors in 1620, Australian descendant Jeanne Harrison spent most of 2020 at sea, beginning with an Atlantic crossing. Setting sail from Denmark with her husband Colin, they overcame enormous obstacles - from the weather to coronavirus - to arrive safely back in Australian waters in October. Jeanne Harrison writes about their adventure.

Across the Atlantic to the French Amazon

2020 commenced as we celebrated New Years eve mid-Atlantic on our 40 foot yacht Dakota between Cape Verde and French Guiana. The first stops at Devil's Island, then the penal camps up the Maroni River (called the French Amazon) at St. Laurent, were filled with history and interesting scenery. The leisurely cruise to lovely Charlotteville in Tobago, then to Grenada and Bonaire (Dutch Antilles) following the trade winds was wonderful.

Quarantine Caribbean-style

Covid-19 spread as we sailed from Bonaire to Panama. When we arrived at the Canal, we were immediately quarantined on our yacht at anchor for 14 days. This proved to be delightful, as the quarantine meant 14 days of free anchorage on our yacht while online ordered fresh food (BBQ chicken, bread, yummy fruits) were delivered to our dinghy by volunteers from the marina. This resembled a holiday! Unfortunately, it also coincided with the Canal’s closure to vessels under 65 foot, so we could not move on.

Navigating Pacific Island border closures

With help from the marina manager, our agent, and the Australian Honorary Consul, we were eventually permitted to transit the Canal. Then over half way across the Pacific, 44 days after departing Panama, we were permitted to stop in Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, French Polynesia, with only one day quarantine due to our isolation at sea.

Tahiti to Australia in isolation

The final leg of our journey was a 34-day sail from Tahiti to Australia. Again we were quarantined, this time in a hotel at our expense. Finally, our 14-day quarantine exemption request (sent from Tahiti) was granted – 10 days into quarantine and after 44 days of isolation from other human beings!

Back on Australian shores

Unlike our Pilgrim ancestors who left the work to the crew, on our arrival in Bundaberg we worked on boat repairs, cleaning and reprovisioning for our continuing sea journey. We were also fortunate to have local currency and a nearby Aldi and Coles in Bundy!

Sailing south to Sydney, we were able to celebrate a Thanksgiving lunch with the Captain James Cook Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

A delayed drive home

In Sydney, we bought a car and loaded up to return to Adelaide - just as Covid broke out in South Australia (!).

We therefore diverted to Tasmania for a two-week road trip in hope that all would settle at home before Christmas. While in Hobart, we enjoyed a catchup with fellow Fuller descendant Steve Isham and his wife Marion.

Our wish is to be in Adelaide for Christmas as our journey began in Denmark in May 2019, and our last Christmas included a tinned ham at sea!

Jeanne Harrison is an Edward Fuller descendant. Her application to join the Australian Mayflower Society was successfully processed while she was at sea, despite the challenges of Covid.
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