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

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on Thursday, April 8. (Contributed)
Revelstoke yoga class fined for defying COVID-19 orders

The RCMP were called to the Alchemy Studio on April 8

The Royal’s 1959 visit to Revelstoke. (Photo by Revelstoke Museum and Archives #17)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip visited Revelstoke – twice

The prince died April 9 at the age of 99

B.C's COVID-19 dashboard shows the peaks and valleys of cases prior to the record daily report of 132 on April 9, 2021. (Dashboard image)
Interior Health has record day of COVID-19 cases

132 cases reported Friday, April 9, more deaths in Vernon hospital outbreak

Bart and Tracey Larson enjoying a Begbie Cream Ale. The couple have been together for 40 years. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
The art of really good beer: Mt. Begbie Brewing celebrates 25 years

Owners Bart and Tracey Larson reflect on their company’s history

Three Lake Country men were fined a total of $11,000 in Kelowna Provincial Court April 8, 2021, for illegally hunting two bull moose in Vernon in 2017, and another two moose in Revelstoke in 2019. (Dave Rothwell Photography)
Three Lake Country men fined $11K total for poaching moose in Vernon, Revelstoke

Four bull moose in total were killed illegally in separate ‘party hunting’ incidents in 2017 and 2019

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

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

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Sun Peaks is tracking rising COVID-19 cases. (Kamloops This Week Photo)
Sun Peaks sees spike in COVID-19 cases at end of ski season

On April 9, there were 15 positive cases confirmed.

Most Read