The Helping Voice

The picture shows a strongly heeling Josee leaving the port of Ocho Rios in a hurry after being sent away by immediate order of the Marine Police. It was the morning after our arrival in Jamaica, the 19th of April. The guys from the coast guard were so kind, as we couldn’t receive a Wi-Fi signal from the shore, to drive us closer to land by hooking our boats up to their 300 PS powerful motor boats. Apart from us there was only one other boat anchoring. It belonged to a retired Swiss couple that decided to sail the world two years ago. Pia, the wife, came paddling on her surfboard towards us after we got their attention by waving towards them. She informed us on the local situation, that despite the lockdown everything would be pretty normal and you could get everything that’s needed. We agreed to stay in touch and she paddled away after only a few minutes.

As we still couldn’t receive a working internet connection but I had to contact the German embassy again after almost two weeks, I called Pia on the VHF. It was her husband, Köbi, who answered my call. Asking him if he could send a mail to the ambassador to let him know that I had finally arrived in Jamaica and could possibly go through quarantine he promised to send the message right away. To my surprise shortly after he called back to let me know that the secretary of the ambassador herself was on his phone. As I could not just come over to them due to Covid-19, Köbi arranged a bizarre phone call through the VHF. Every time when the secretary spoke he pushed the button on the VHF to let her speak while I could just listen and the other way around. The coordination of letting the both of us alternately speak or listen was quite stressful especially as I was under time pressure.

Unfortunately, the secretary only repeated what the ambassador told me already. Despite the global medical crisis and our hopeless situation, they kept saying all they would do is counselling. The disappointing message still couldn’t dissuade me from my plan to go illegally on land. I knew it would be my last chance to leave. Pia and Köbi, being worried even though we just met, tried to convince me that the boat would be the best place. Hearing everything me and the secretary discussed, Pia said concerned : “It might seem hard now but when they discover you they can send you to jail . You dont want to be in jail in Jamaica!” Supposed to be an illegal fugitive in Jamaica during a lockdown with no prospect of where to go and how to survive, I still thought “There must be a way.”

Only minutes after the disappointing talk we were sent away and had to leave within 30 minutes of being told. I did not even got the chance for my risky plan. While the Marine Police came back only to give us some Red Cross donations, I called Köbi a last time : “Please tell the embassy that they send us away although we have not enough food and water and that a shroud is about to break!”

As the Marine Police threatened us with jail and to confiscate the two boats, we were in a hectic rush to set sail. Heeling massively we passed the boat of Pia and Köbi. It was the moment I saw him the first and only time. The guy who helped some unknown and unseen stranger. I waved to say goodbye and to thank him. That’s the moment he took the picture.

Weeks later, after we finally arrived in Guadeloupe I sent a mail to both letting them know that I remained on the boats for the entire trip. He wrote back what had happened to them and that the embassy had asked him for news about me two days after our sudden departure. Which they of course couldn’t have as we were back at sea on our way to Haiti. Köbi also attached the picture that tells one story from this adventurous journey. Me, I never received a message from the embassy again, though.

Cheers, Nicole

👉 Read in previous parts about my adventurous journey sailing the Caribbean during Covid-19 pandemic



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