Man Sails Across Atlantic To Be With Dad, 90, Amid Coronavirus Flight Ban
Juan Manuel Ballestero was on the Portuguese island of Porto Santo back in March when the spread of Covid-19 was intensifying internationally.
He could have stayed put and remained relatively risk-free on the picturesque island, but he couldn't bear the thought of being apart from his family during the crisis - particularly his old man.
As such, the 47-year-old sailor did the only thing he could, loading up his boat with tinned food, fruit and rice before setting sail - despite warnings from friends and family, as well as authorities in Portugal, who said he may not be allowed to re-enter the country should he turn back.
Speaking to The New York Times, Juan said: "I didn't want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases.
"I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.
"I bought myself a one-way ticket and there was no going back."
Even as an experienced sailor, the challenge of making such a journey during such unprecedented times was like nothing Juan had ever done before.
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For starters, some ports wouldn't allow him to dock and restock fuel and food; plus, it was daunting trying to comprehend how the virus was gripping the world around him as he floated all alone in the ocean, tuning into the news for half an hour a day.
He said: "I wasn't afraid, but I did have a lot of uncertainty. It was very strange to sail in the middle of a pandemic with humanity teetering around me.
"I kept thinking about whether this would be my last trip. I was locked up in my own freedom."
Naturally, his family at home in Mar del Plata were concerned too.
His dad, Carlos, said: "The uncertainty of not knowing where he was for 50-some days was very rough. But we had no doubt this was going to turn out well."
And while there were numerous dark, lonely and treacherous times along the way, Carlos proved to be right, with his devoted son finally docking on 17 June, receiving a deserved hero's welcome.
He said: "Entering my port where my father had his sailboat, where he taught me so many things and where I learned how to sail and where all this originated, gave me the taste of a mission accomplished."
You da man Juan.
Featured Image Credit: PA