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News > INTERNATIONAL ALUMNI > Louise Dews has sailed through the pandemic - literally!

Louise Dews has sailed through the pandemic - literally!

The former Walhampton Mum shares her unusual and tranquil story of Lockdown on their yacht...

Lockdown home - Wolfhound
Lockdown home - Wolfhound

Louise Dews got in touch with a rather unusual Lockdown story. She is the Mum of Hollie and Savanna Felstead who were at Walhampton from 1988-1996 and 1995-1999 respectively. During the 12 years her children were happily at Walhampton she was very involved in school life: assisting Arthur French with the bee keeping, working on school ball committees, arranging chapel flowers etc. Here's her words about her Lockdown experience:

My story is probably a bit different to the norm….

My husband Steven and I are sailing our yacht, Wolfhound, from the UK back to our home in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand.  We left the UK in June 2016 and should have been home in NZ by now but due to Covid we have been in Mexico since early June last year. We had just sailed from Panama to Costa Rica and were preparing for our Pacific crossing when the world started to close down.  It was a strange but wonderful time being restricted to our yacht at anchor in a remote part of Costa Rica.  We could get ashore to do essential shopping in the local village but the rest of the time we were aboard the boat or swimming around it!  It was a beautiful time of year in Costa Rica with the beginning of the rainy season bringing torrential rain showers most afternoons and stunning sunsets. We stayed there for 2.5 months hoping, as everyone did, that things would ease up, but as we all know, matters went from bad to worse.  In mid May we made the decision to sail the 1,800 miles up to Mexico because Mexico was still ‘open’ and life was less restrictive.  We spend a long, hot and incredibly humid summer just north of Acapulco, waiting out the hurricane season.  In early November we moved further north to the Sea of Cortez with the hope of seeing Blue Whales and Whale Sharks.  We have been privileged to swim with Whale Sharks but the Blue Whales are still on our list as they are starting to arrive in ’the sea’ to birth their young as I write this.

As far as my family is concerned Savanna (Felstead) my daughter was in Peru when Covid hit but managed after 2 months to get a humanitarian flight to the USA and then onto Mexico to join us.  She is still in Mexico and will probably make her home here for a while. Hollie (Felstead) my eldest daughter gave birth to my first grandchild in Sydney, Australia, April last year.  The baby girl is now 9 months old and I still haven’t had a chance to meet her which is probably my greatest sadness of this whole time.

I think the positive experiences have been the tranquility we have found in deserted bays and anchorages. On the human side, we have encountered so much kindness and generosity from the people of central America but also a great deal of poverty bought on by this pandemic.  During the hurricane season a tropical storm passed through the area we were in bringing huge devastation from floods and mud slides to people already just managing to survive.  In the best tradition of the the worldwide yachting community we all pulled together to help the unfortunate local people that had lost everything in the storm, donating money, food and and a helping hand with the cleanup.

I would have to say that what has got me through the past year has been swimming in the sea and reading, reading, reading!

I have learnt to live one day at a time, be accepting of situations that I cannot control and developed greater patience.

As a foot note...

We cannot cross the south Pacific this year either because most of the islands are closed to visitors so we have decided to sail to Hawaii next month spend a couple of months in the Hawaiian islands then sail up to Alaska then on down through Canadian waters (not allowed to go ashore) to Seattle then down the west coast of the USA through the summer months and back down to Costa Rica by Christmas with the hope that we will be able to leave from there to cross the Pacific in 2022.

 

Thank you for sharing your story Louise - there's certainly more blue sky and warm blue seas in it than we've seen in the UK! We hope you and your husband continue to enjoy the rest of your sea adventure and that you get the biggest cuddle with your grand-daughter when you finally make it back to Australia!

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