Briton Ryan Osborne and his wife Elena Manighetti were not prepared for just how strictly their families obeyed the wish. Picture: YouTube.com
Briton Ryan Osborne and his wife Elena Manighetti were not prepared for just how strictly their families obeyed the wish. Picture: YouTube.com

Virus? What virus? Sailing couple, who cut ties with outside world, say they knew nothing

By Daily Mail Foreign Service Time of article published Apr 23, 2020

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London - They set sail on a 3 000-mile voyage, telling relatives they didn’t want to hear any bad news.

But Briton Ryan Osborne and his wife Elena Manighetti were not prepared for just how strictly their families obeyed the wish.

For the couple say they spent a month crossing the Atlantic not knowing the world was in the grip of coronavirus.

When Osborne and Manighetti left Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on February 28, coronavirus was an epidemic in the Far East they thought was dying down. 

So they spent 25 days on their second-hand yacht Tayana 37, blissfully unaware of the havoc – and tragedy – the pandemic has been causing. 

Only when their yacht, which flies the British Red Ensign, reached port in the Caribbean did they discover how serious the situation was – and realised they were probably among the last on Earth to do so. Their horror was made worse as Manighetti’s family are from a small village near Bergamo, in the worst hit part of Italy.

"It was total shock. We had not realised the extent of what had become a pandemic while we were out at sea with no 3G," they said. "Lockdowns weren’t a thing when we set off, and when we arrived in the Caribbean, the whole world was in lockdown.

"We instantly got in touch with our families to ask how they were and if anyone we knew had contracted the virus." Fortunately their families were all fit and well.

Osborne, originally from Kent, told Radio 5 Live: "Before we set off, we were kind of aware of it but it was mainly in China. We assumed by the time we got to the Caribbean it would be all over.

"When we found out [about Manighetti’s home town] we were shocked. Her family have been in lockdown for quite a long time."

The couple, who have been sailing the world for three years, said their only contact with the outside world during their voyage was a GPS tracker that allowed messages of 160 characters.

"I was messaging my brother to ask for weather updates and things like that," Osborne said. "We said to our families, when we are on the Atlantic we don’t really want to be getting bad news because there is nothing we can do about it, other than worry."

Their plan to dock at one of the French territories was scuppered when the island refused permission. When they were close enough to land to get an internet signal, a follower of their YouTube channel warned islands were closing.

"She told us we were going to be refused entry as I’m an Italian citizen, even though I hadn’t been to Italy in months," said Manighetti. But Bequia, in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, allowed them in. "Thankfully the authorities understood we had been effectively quarantined. Life here is more or less normal and there are no cases," Osborne said.

Now they are stuck, with the hurricane season approaching. "We are just happy...we are in a place that is relatively safe." They quit their jobs in Manchester in 2017 and bought a boat to sail the Mediterranean, filming for their YouTube channel Sailing Kittiwake. They bought Tayana 37 last year.

Daily Mail

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