When Bay Area sailor Monique Selvester spent her birthday at sea, it was only one of two firsts — it was also her first offshore adventure.
As a novice to sailing, over the years I have crewed on many different boats for weekend YRA races and occasional Friday night beer cans, hoping to learn the ins and outs of sailing. Typically I find myself hanging off the high side of the boat dangling my feet toward the water. Crawling over the foredeck from side to side, water spraying up in my face, and the casual conversation with the fellow rail-meat crew sitting by my side is what I lived for on the weekends. In these magical moments, when I looked up at the Golden Gate Bridge I fantasized about what it must feel like to sail out to sea with only ocean on the horizon and water miles deep below me.
The time had never felt more right when I received the invitation to crew for an ocean passage. Having had my world turned upside down and losing my job due to COVID-19, I had been waiting for a new adventure. Next thing I knew I was stepping off the plane in Hawaii. Passengers lined up, and one by one our temperatures were taken by formally dressed Army soldiers. We were directed to private desks to fill out paperwork about our travel details and where we would spend our 14-day quarantine upon arrival at the islands. We were threatened with $5,000 fines and arrest if we were found breaking these regulations. The State of Hawaii COVID-19 Quarantine Enforcement Task Force would monitor us closely with occasional phone calls.
I quickly left what felt like the scene of an apocalyptic science-fiction Hollywood thriller at the airport and headed directly to the marina. My head already spinning from the Twilight Zone reality of the current state this year has brought, my body was in Hawaii but a part of me was lost in time in early March, before everything changed. And now I was about to cross an ocean with three other people I had never met before.
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