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An Argentinian sailor crossed the Atlantic by boat to reunite with his parents during the coronavirus pandemic.
Setting out from Portugal, Juan Manuel Ballestero, 47, charted a three-month-long voyage. When the pandemic hit, he was in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira, and flights to Argentina were canceled.
He grabbed some 200 euros he had saved, loaded up his boat “Skua” with food and set sail. The journey was not always smooth, with storms and strong winds constantly threatening Ballestero’s life.
“I wanted to be with them,” Ballestero told The Associated Press on Thursday while waiting in quarantine before he can see his 90-year-old father, Carlos Ballestero, and 82-year-old mother, Nilda Gómez. “Now I am calm, anchored here in the middle of this port. There is no storm to bother me or boat to run me over.”
Ballestero is an experienced sailor, having fished in Alaska and the South Atlantic. He also served as the skipper of oceanographic sailboats searching for whales or carrying out environmental surveys.
Off the coast of Brazil, waves and heavy wind tossed his small boat. He said he “could have lost the mast” when a wave brushed him from above.
“The boat went over. I couldn’t trim the sail in time,” he said, adding that a cable broke.
Ballestero said that the important thing is his reunion with his parents. He plans to remain near his parents’ home for the time being.
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“I came to my home. It is human.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.