A contribution from instructor Rob Lawnsby

The ultimate social distancing is living on a boat with a month’s worth of food and anchoring in isolated coves.

Sounds like a good idea. Our 35’ sailboat is in New Bern, North Carolina and our new houseboat is in the water at Cove Haven Marina in Rhode Island. Our retirement plan is to leave the houseboat in the water year-round in RI as a base and be a snowbird with the sailboat in southern waters in the winter.

This worked well for the 2019-20 Winter and we were on the houseboat for March to get it ready for summer. Then, as the Covid-19 pandemic outlook was looking more and more grim, we jumped on a plane April 2nd and flew down to North Carolina. The plane was only 10% full and Charlotte airport was empty. No problem with social distancing during the trip.

We are now self-quarantining on the boat in New Bern, NC with 75 degree days. We’re able to go to isolated trails in the National Forest here for hikes. I’m finishing up the boat projects. When we are sure we are healthy (Coronavirus free), we will stock up on food and slowly head north. At the time of this writing, there is almost no Coronavirus cases in rural North Carolina, but there is plenty of fear.

We can hold seventy gallons of diesel and get about twelve miles per gallon. That equates to about 800-mile range, giving us the freedom of not needing to stop for fuel. We might need to stop for water once on the way up, but with 100 gallons already, we may make it the three weeks we plan to take to get north. I have done the trip in five days before sailing offshore, but we plan to take it slow in hopes of the pandemic calming down a bit. If things are still in a bad way, we will make one stop to get more food and water. That will hold us over for another two to three weeks.

The plan is to slowly sail up Chesapeake Bay, avoiding the population centers. When we get to Cape May, we will sail direct offshore to Rhode Island, avoiding New York and Long Island Sound altogether. I’m looking to be nestled at Cove Haven with the two boats and ready to start teaching classes when it’s okay to start them again.

Watch for next month’s installment about cruising north during the Coronavirus Pandemic! Will the authorities chase us out or leave us be? Stay tuned!

~Rob Lawnsby and fiancé Bea Johnson


Rob Lawnsby

Meet the Author, Rob Lawnsby

Rob was the ASA Instructor of the Year in both 2011 and 2013. He has been sailing for 40 years and has accumulated a great wealth of knowledge. Today, Rob’s certified to teach several classes at NSS, including ASA 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 114, 118, and 114 Mutihull, as well as Diesel, Boat Systems, & Marine Electrical.