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When Coronavirus Shuts Down Flights, Man Sails From Portugal To Argentina For 85 Days So He Could Celebrate Dad’s 90th Birthday



  • Juan Manuel Ballestero’s passion is to sail the seas and he has been doing that for a long time.
  • When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, he was on an island in Portugal named Porto Santo.
  • But he still wanted to go home and be with his family, especially on his dad’s 90th birthday, so he sailed for almost three months and came home to Argentina.

A man from Argentina went alone on an almost three-month long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to see his 90-year-old father and the rest of his family amidst the pandemic even when international travels were halted.

Juan Manuel Ballestero was in Porto Santo island in Portugal when the travel ban was implemented in his home country, Argentina. 

But of course, Juan Manuel, 47, won’t just give up so easily his desire to go home and be with his family, especially his father. So he took Skua — his Ohlson 29 sailboat — on a journey alone in the Atlantic Ocean for 85 days. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

There were many challenges that he had to face during his voyage but that won’t stop him from coming back home and celebrate his dad’s 90th birthday. On Father’s Day, Juan Manuel arrived in Argentina safe and sound. 

“I didn’t want to stay like a coward on an island where there were no cases,” Juan Manuel told The New York Times. “I wanted to do everything possible to return home. The most important thing for me was to be with my family.”

It has always been Juan Manuel’s dream to cruise the seas and he has been a sailor and a fisherman for a long time. He had been passionate about the bodies of water at an early age as far back as when he was only 3. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Despite that, his family was still worried with his lone trip. “The uncertainty of not knowing where he was for 50-some days was very rough,” Carlos Alberto Ballestero, his dad, told the outlet. “But we had no doubt this was going to turn out well.”

During the trip, he was challenged with huge waves and problems with restocking supplies and refueling. Still, he persisted and came back home alright.

“It was very strange to sail in the middle of a pandemic with humanity teetering around me,” he said. “There was no going back,” he added.

Photo Credit: Diego Izquierdo

Before reuniting with his family, he had to be tested of COVID-19 which came back negative after 72 hours and he was then allowed to enter Argentina. Now, while he is still with his family, he already plans on sailing again.

“What I lived is a dream,” he said. “But I have a strong desire to keep on sailing.”

Source: PEOPLE.Com