If you think the Covid pandemic caused a change of plans in your life last year, consider the cruising life of James and Jennifer Hamilton on their Nordhavn 52 Dirona. They started the year in Amsterdam and planned to go down to the Med, but Covid changed all that. They ended up spending 79 consecutive days on the boat in a harbor in southern Scotland, and finally, almost at the last moment, cruised across the North Sea to spend the winter in Norway. Plans change.
In a review of the year, James wrote on their blog, mvdirona.com, that along with other world cruisers, “we experienced the unique challenges of being a visiting boater during a global pandemic. But overall we felt especially fortunate to be aboard our self-sufficient, mobile and floating home that has allowed us to continue doing what we enjoy most, exploring the world by boat.”
Over the years, the Hamiltons, a high-tech couple from Seattle, have already done a lot of exploring. They bought Dirona new in 2009, and have been cruising full-time since 2012, including a circumnavigation.
At the start of last year, heading south from Amsterdam, they only got as far as Antwerp before the Covid lockdowns hit. Changing plans, they headed for Scotland, thinking they would be able to cruise there, but it too was closed to visitors and they could not go ashore.
The Hamiltons anchored in a protected harbor off the Isle of Gigha in southern Scotland, where workers from a fish farm took a tender out every week to check up on them. A local grocer offered to order anything they needed and have the fish farm workers deliver it.
All told, they spent 79 days there, never leaving the boat. James wrote that their previous record was 25 consecutive days on the boat on a 3,689 nm run across the Southern Atlantic from St. Helena to Barbados. But, he wrote, “the same versatility that made Dirona a comfortable and safe home for us over the past decade as we’ve crossed oceans, lived in world-class cities, and explored remote parts of the planet, also made the boat an ideal place to wait out the Scottish lockdown.”
When the lockdown ended, they initially planned to cruise around the Orkney Island group, but just as they started they heard that Norway had relaxed its Covid restrictions. Within minutes, James wrote, they were heading to Norway. “It’s an unusual day when you wake up in the morning, set off on a day cruise, and end up making a two-night crossing of the North Sea to a different country.”
Once there, they spent time cruising up Norway’s west coast, exploring spots they had missed in an earlier trip in 2018. They hiked, made trips to remote coves in their tender, and prepared for a winter in the far north.
Looking back, James wrote, they hadn’t had a restaurant meal, a visit to a pub, or a guest on board Dirona since they left Antwerp last March. “While we do miss the more social aspects of cruising and our various excursions from Dirona,” he wrote, “we have been enjoying traveling at a relaxed pace with no particular schedule. And our cat, Spitfire, who turned 17 this year, has appreciated all the extra attention with us around the boat more.” Read more: