• Ana

A Quarantine diary - week 1

I’ve decided to write this little diary of our experience of self-isolation aboard The Dream while docked in Hammamet, Tunisia.


Day 1 (2020-03-13)

After trying to exercise some social-distancing since the 31st January, the day I returned from Portugal we decided it was the moment to "pull the plug" and go into isolation for a while.

The reasons behind this were simple:

  • Our dock neighbours are social butterflies, French social butterflies and that means lots of kisses and hugs every morning, aperitif or coffee at their boat and saying no is not an option. We really like our friends here at the marina but they are not taking this seriously.

  • Our dog is a social-butterfly also and while in the marina for the winter season she craves for all the attention she can get from our dock friends

  • From Thursday afternoon to Sunday night the marina seems to become a place of pilgrimage, with lots of people wandering around. Some with high-risk behaviour especially when we have a dog that we need to take out for walkies. In the last few days, I’ve seen several people spitting on the floor and snorting their noses directly on the floor and then wiping their hands on their jeans. For us, this meant that walking the dog even super early or super late in the day is a risk to our health. Removing shoes before returning our yacht would be enough to overcome the problem but washing our dog's paws perfectly before entering the boat is nearly impossible.

  • A few dock neighbours had returned the week before from North Italy (oh yeah the epicentre of the COVID19 crisis in Italy), a few others were expected to return from France (another place that is becoming an epicentre)

With all this in mind today we decided to not open our swimming platform and to not place our boarding plank. By keeping the back of the boat closed we ensured a good 1.5 meters distance to the dock and prevented us and neighbours from getting on the platform to talk to each other.


The first hard thing was to break the habits.

The second was explaining to our friends our action and be laughed at, again.


We started taking our temperatures twice a day and keeping a log of it.

Day 2 (2020-03-14)

One of our french neighbour from the other end of the dock arrived yesterday from France and was very surprised by seeing our swimming platform closed.

Our friends are still very surprised that we are really going ahead with this isolation thing, and keep saying “poor Ella” (our dog).


With all the stress of the insurance repairs discussion, the constant allergies due to the southern winds that blow from the desert and the local seasonal flu\cold when we think back we can’t even really remember exactly when was it that headache started becoming a routine, when did we started sneezing and when did our friends developed a cough...

On top of that, we seemed to have developed an obsession with checking the official numbers of the disease every couple of hours.


Day 3 (2020-03-15)

It’s Sunday and we have finally finished the batteries project testing yesterday.

Procrastination is the goal for the day, even more than what we have been doing. Lot’s of Netflix, movies, sunbathing, workout and play with Ella.

The marina is still quite full of people walking around as if nothing is going on.


Day 4 (2020-03-16)

John complained of a sore throat this morning but no signs of fever.

The french neighbour that had arrived just a few days earlier has left but before leaving commented with one of our dock friend that he was feeling unwell and with a cough. Our friend looked worried but when the others arrived and we all talk about it their reaction was to go share a bottle of wine (they had all been hanging out together the previous days, while we were already in isolation).

To keep us distracted we washed the boat.


Somehow it seems we are constantly hungry and preparing healthy snacks. I guess bread is back on the table (we were trying to eat fewer carbs).

Struggling with the lack of chocolates and crisps... Go figure.


At the end of the day, I saw the neighbour that had supposedly left back to France returning to our dock. Apparently, there’s chaos in the Tunis airport due to several flights cancelled and overbooking on the french repatriation efforts and he had his seat cancelled.

Usually, he is such a high spirited guy but today he really looks bad, I hope he is just deflated because he didn’t manage to get on the flight and not because he is sick.


Day 5 (2020-03-17)

Time to stop procrastinating so much, so we decided to do a big cleanup of the boat interior.

That kept us busy most of the morning.


Mid-morning one of the guys that does the gardinage services on a few boats here in the marina stopped by to talk to us from a distance and let us know that our french neighbour managed to get on a flight earlier today with his assistance. He didn’t mention anything about the guy being sick or not but commented on how bad he was looking. We told him that the french neighbour had commented with our french friend that he was indeed feeling sick.


News from the people that keep coming and going is that the supermarkets in the nearest town are still pretty stocked up, only in the western supermarkets in Hammamet centre seems to be less supplied.

After cleaning the boat interior both of us complained of itchy throat, hopefully, is just the result of the accumulated dust during the time we were working on the batteries and had the floor open allowing only a very superficial cleaning. We are becoming hypersensitive.


We emailed the Portuguese embassy in Tunisia and the Australian embassy in Malta (the closest embassy) both advised us to get on the run for the last flights out of Tunisia before the air space is closed tomorrow. That didn’t seem the best advice in our understanding so we informed them of our intention of staying aboard in isolation and requested to be kept informed of the embassy communications to residents in Tunisia. They also informed us that the Tunisian Doctors Association have issued an announcement stating priority care would be given to nationals leaving foreigners probably unattended in case of need. Even more, a reason to lock ourselves down.


End of the day fever check was good.

Hopefully, the itchy throat is just stress and dust.


Day 6 (2020-03-18)

Who would think being isolated was so boring, we just want to eat, eat.

The feeling of itchy throat we had yesterday has disappeared but later in the day, I started with a runny nose. Is it my usual sinus or something more concerning?


We tackled another job on our to-do list of next winter. At this rhythm, we won’t have jobs for next winter that aren’t mechanical related.


The government decreed curfew from 6 pm until 6 am.


Day 7 (2020-03-19)

I’m hungry, I want chocolate, I want crisps!

I’ve created a Facebook group to share relevant information with regards to the situation herein Tunisia with other sailors that like we are stuck here. Most don’t read french and I do, so translated and shared.

Tomorrow I need to go shopping for fresh food, the news is suggesting that more stringent measures are to be implemented.

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