Photo Courtesy AFP
Man Sails Through Atlantic Ocean For 85 Days Amid COVID-19 Shutdown To Reach Father Back Home
Juan Manuel Ballestero, a 47-year-old man sailed solo through the gigantic Atlantic Ocean to reach his father back home in Argentina. Stuck on the tiny Portuguese island of Porto Santo amid the coronavirus shutdown, Ballestero started his 85-day-long journey on his 29-foot sailboat with canned tuna, fruit and rice, The New York Times reported.
“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,” Ballestero said as quoted by The New York Times.
Ballestero had come to Portugal via a flight but Argentina cancelled all international passenger flights to protect the country from the coronavirus in March. This was the time when Ballestero decided to sail through the ocean to reach his father, who was soon to turn 90.
Ballestero’s friends tried to stop him from embarking on the unsafe journey and he was warned by the Portuguese authority that the country won’t allow him to re-enter the territory if he ran into trouble in the ocean.
“I bought myself a one-way ticket, and there was no going back,” he said.
Ballestero’s father Carlos Alberto was aware of his son’s itinerant lifestyle and had full confidence in him.
“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,” Carlos Alberto said.
Ballestero received a hero welcome when he reached his native Mar del Plata on June 17. “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,” he said.
He was tested for the COVID-19 on the dock and the result came negative after he was tested again within 72 hours.
Ballestero couldn’t reach on time to celebrate his father’s 90th birthday in May, but he celebrated Father’s Day.
“What I lived is a dream. But I have a strong desire to keep on sailing,” Ballestero said.
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