March 2020 was not a good month for traveling across Europe, looking at ships and purchasing them… European governments had reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic. Too late, still shy to use the term “pandemic” – but bold enough to lock down public life and to close borders. The virus had spread already, border closures did little to contain the virus – and despite scenario analyses which had been done after the MERS epidemy years ago, countries were largely unprepared. Supply shortages of masks, disinfectants etc. – and supply chains which had little or no redundancy did not improve matters.
So rather than meeting in Italy in March to survey the boat and close the deal, we all had to wait for lockdowns and border closures to be slowly lifted. For a long time, even marinas were closed. Maybe the idea was to close down everything where people could get in contact – well, everything for which closures were politically sustainable. So closing down marinas where some people might get in touch could be done. But locking down for example public transportation where many people would get together – was unthinkable. Basically not much has changed since then. The “tools” being used are restrictions and lockdowns the efficacy of which is not known and has never been measured; education however, which might influence human behaviour which is at the heart of risky behaviour is widely neglected. Rather than educating people through massive media campaigns our politicians come up with regulations that often have little effect or cannot be enforced.
All this meant that what was planned for March had to wait until June 2020 while the virus took its toll. Then, however, the Bootsprofis and I were warmly welcomed by Massimiliano, the owner of the boat and his family. After half a day of technical reviews, putting the ship into water and test-sailing her, we signed the contracts that had long been prepared and formally closed the deal with Italian authorities on the next day. In Italy, buying/selling a car or a boat is nothing that can simply be done by two people: such a contract must be confirmed by a public authority. An act which did in the days of Covid not only require an appointment but also entails paying fees to get your papers stamped. And at the end of that day, I was the owner of a boat for which Massimiliano had helped me to find a berth in the marina of Pescara to which we moved her together. And for the months to come, this is where the Fortuna Princess would stay.
By now it was clear that I would at least need to cut down on my working hours in order to follow my dreams. Well – actually following the dream would really mean to stop working, accept a lower pension once the time came and try to make the dream come true while still young and sufficiently fit. It was June – and with my current job there was no way of coming back to my ship before September.