German couple sailing the world find unexpected refuge in B.C.

Paul and Marion Bauer’s boat, Luna Mare, had to be repaired after the hull endured damage after colliding into a rock in the Strait of Georgia. Since November, the couple have been living on their boat anchored at Discovery Harbour in Campbell River.Paul and Marion Bauer’s boat, Luna Mare, had to be repaired after the hull endured damage after colliding into a rock in the Strait of Georgia. Since November, the couple have been living on their boat anchored at Discovery Harbour in Campbell River.
Paul and Marion Bauer pose for a picture at the shipyard in Campbell River where their boat was getting repaired. The couple who set sail from Germany in 2017 to circumnavigate the globe, found their plans altered after the pandemic struck in 2020.Paul and Marion Bauer pose for a picture at the shipyard in Campbell River where their boat was getting repaired. The couple who set sail from Germany in 2017 to circumnavigate the globe, found their plans altered after the pandemic struck in 2020.

Marion and Paul Bauer left Bavaria in 2017. They boarded their sailboat planning to circumnavigate the globe.

And they enjoyed every nautical mile of their post-retirement life, crossing European cities through the Baltic Sea, proceeding towards Cape Verde in Africa and from there sailing the Atlantic Ocean.

When they were nearing Panama in April 2020, they heard about “the coronavirus” through a brief satellite message from a family member.

Paul and Marion had no idea about the extent of chaos this new virus had caused back on land as they had been out of communication for months. Marion, a nurse by profession, assumed that it could be something to do with the heart since it had the term corona in it.

RELATED: After 7 years and 14 countries, sailing family finds home

RELATED: Victoria-based solo-sailor oldest person to sail around the world unassisted

By the time they reached Hawaii, the human race’s social etiquette had changed. Faces were masked, social distancing had set in and all group gatherings were prohibited.

Life at sea was not very different from the isolation that was being undertaken back on land, so the couple spent most of their time on boat while docked at ports with their routines unchanged.

But they had to pivot their sailing plan to the south Pacific Ocean as most countries in the region had begun implementing strict lockdowns.

They carried on towards Alaska with the hope of anchoring in Canada before heading to the U.S. where they decided to halt and plan their route to turn back and head home. Their arrival in Canada in October last year at Prince Rupert was “not the best experience,” said Paul.

“We were denied entry and not even allowed to anchor at the port to refuel,” he said. “There were other sailors who were let in at the same port but not us.”

Tired and upset, they had no option but to turn around and head towards Washington.

It was during this stretch that their boat– named Luna Mare – sustained a leak after bumping into a rock in the Strait of Georgia at night, near Campbell River. The emergency, relayed through radio, led officials to give them entry into Campbell River, where they were able to anchor and get their boat fixed.

The repairs took over a month and gave them time to quarantine and take a break from all the unexpected challenges.

Paul and Marion went for long walks, explored the numerous hiking trails at Elk Falls and made a couple of friends in the city. Their opinion about Canada as an “unfriendly” place slowly changed as they anchored at Discovery Harbour in Campbell River and planned their route back to Europe.

They have spent a little over five months in Campbell River as they waited for the next sailing window to head back.

Thanksgiving of 2020 was spent on boat – Marion made a special turkey dish and Paul made his signature beans with chestnut and bacon. On Christmas and New Year they connected with their grandchildren and family via video calls.

And they forged a good friendship with a couple of Campbell Riverites.

“People are nice here,” Paul said, redeeming the unpleasant impression he had of the country upon arrival.

Ten years ago, when they took sailing classes, they both never imagined they would undertake a global sailing adventure like the one they embarked on, and they certainly did not anticipate a global pandemic to be the cherry on the top of their challenge list.

When they set out in 2017, they wanted to experience life at sea and not just settle into the routine of retirement that awaited them after their careers, says Paul. 2020 certainly exceeded all their expectations of this experience, according to him.

“Life at sea is peaceful,” and perhaps even helped them sustain sanity when COVID-19 had turned life upside-down for most land dwellers.

This week, Paul and Marion departed Campbell River, homeward bound through the Atlantic Ocean. They intend to complete the final leg of their journey – sailing through the waters of the Pacific Ocean – when the world is “back to normal.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Coronavirustravel

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A woman crosses 176th Street in Cloverdale April 12, 2021. 176th will not host Cloverdale Market Days this year as the popular street fest is just the latest casualty in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Cloverdale Market Days cancelled again

Organizer says popular street fest will return in 2022

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Vintage scrapbooks gave way to Instagram and Facebook. (Photo: Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)
COLUMN: Prince Philip just got on with it—to our surprise

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis reflects on the passing Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Most Read