Coronavirus: Bay Area sailing crew returns to COVID-19 pandemic after 3 months at sea

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KGO) -- Imagine if you were just returning home, never having experienced any of the new realities coronavirus has created. Working from home, empty streets, closed restaurants, sheltering in place... all of it new. That's exactly what a Bay Area sailing crew is experiencing.

ABC7 News reporter, Kate Larsen, spoke to the ship's captain via Skype Monday night, as the crew sailed towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Even a mile out, they weren't sure if the Coast Guard was going to let them into the Bay and their boat slip in Marin, because of coronavirus concerns. Truly a new world, from the one they left last year.

"Yeah, there it is," exclaimed Captain Jay Grant, as he got a look at the Golden Gate for the first time since December.

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"We've come 1,700 miles to get to this point right here!"

Grant was aboard the Seaward, an 82-foot schooner, owned by Bay Area non-profit, Call of the Sea. The organization runs educational voyages for kids. To help fund the school sails, the crew was running private sailing trips for the past three months in Mexico... far from any coronavirus hot spots.

"We started getting a lot of reports of other countries and how serious it just became day after day more and more serious, down in Mexico it wasn't perceived that way for quite a long time until really the end of our trip."

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From whale watching in the Pacific to a whole new view of his life onshore, which Grant has only seen through desolate images of once busy Bay Area streets.
"It was absolutely surreal as if everybody had just disappeared."

All of it, leaving him feeling a bit nervous and apprehensive. "Well it's certainly safer to be at sea, and that's my preference, but we can't stay out here forever."

The Coast Guard gave them the all-clear, and around 9:30 pm, an ABC7 photographer was there as the Seaward docked in Sausalito after two weeks at sea.

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The crew popped champagne and cheered upon their long awaited arrival... still grateful for what home, and life on shore has to offer. "There's warm showers and Wi-Fi, so there's some things to be excited about," shouted one crew member from the boat. Another crew member was excited to see her husband, and celebrate their wedding anniversary on Tuesday.

The Seaward was at sea for 14 days, and Captain Grant says all five crew members are healthy. They were not screened once they got to Sausalito. The Coast Guard said that "because the Seaward is operating in a recreational capacity and no one aboard is reported to be experiencing flu-like symptoms, there are no federal regulations in place that would prohibit them from docking."

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