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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Gough

Covid-19 Forces Change of Course

This year, Covid-19 has thrown off everyone’s compass. A lethal virus isn’t the challenge anyone wanted. But the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, who spent so much time on Campobello, still ring true: “If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” And today as then, we can strive for a safe landing.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived long before the Covid crisis, but faced enormous upheavals in world history. It’s well known that he learned to sail on Friar’s Bay, off Welshpool Landing, and it’s been suggested that experience on the water taught him about adjusting course in tricky situations.

That’s easier if you have a good compass. But if you don’t? Geoffrey C. Ward’s book, A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt, 1905-1928, tells us this story.

One day the young couple, Franklin and Eleanor, sailed the Half Moon to Eastport to pick up elderly relatives. Despite thick fog, the trip across went fine, with “Franklin’s instinctive navigational skill keeping them right on course.

“But it was dark by the time everyone got on board for the return trip and a kerosene lantern was hung from the main boom to help Franklin see the compass.

“The schooner slid slowly through the fog, Franklin gripping the wheel and peering into the darkness while keeping up a steady stream of cheerful talk to ease the Parishes’ anxieties; neither of them much liked to sail.”

But then, as Eleanor recalled it, “the man on the bowsprit called out, ‘Hard aport,’ and there, above us, loomed the Lubec docks, with just enough room to shear off.

“Much annoyed and completely mystified, my husband reset his course for Campobello, realizing we had come through a narrow passageway and just by luck had not found ourselves in the tide running through the ‘Narrows.’ About three minutes later, ‘Hard over’ came from the bowsprit, and we just missed a tiny island with one tree on it, which was entirely off our course.”

Photo Joyce Morrell

So what went wrong? Ward’s book tells us that Franklin “finally realized that the iron in the swinging lantern was attracting the compass. The lantern was moved, and with the help of a box of matches he managed to make Campobello without further incident.”

So how is the coronavirus crisis changing the course of Campobello events? Our last blog was in March, now it’s early May, and travel is still restricted.

For general Government of Canada travel restrictions and exemptions, see: To quote the website: “Until further notice, most people cannot travel to Canada, even if they have a valid visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). These restrictions stop all non-essential (discretionary) travel to Canada.

Transport Canada has issued additional instructions specific to marine transportation (see These currently prohibit cruise vessels, as well as other commercial vessels unless deemed to be an “essential service.” So far, Transport Canada has placed no restrictions on non-commercial pleasure craft per se, but restrictions by other departments may affect them.

That’s the situation as of 7 May 2020. Potential visitors to Campobello will need to keep checking. Also, here’s a link to the Roosevelt Campobello International Park:

In due course, we look forward to welcoming you to Welshpool Landing, the friendly port of Campobello, and will keep you apprised of any developments.

Until then ... “Fair winds and following seas.”

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