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

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The former C&C Wood Products mill will begin producing products again later this month, under new ownership. (Observer file photo)
Williams Lake-owned company to restart production at bankrupt specialty mill in Quesnel

President of Kandola Forest Products says he expects to fill 90 full-time jobs by end of year

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Most Read