Stranded in paradise: Hundreds of sailors stuck in Pacific


Kristen Pankratz, center, poses with her parents David and Anne on their yacht Amazing Grace in Tahiti on April, 23, 2020. Pankratz gave up her advertising job in Dallas and set sail with her parents in January. But now, along with hundreds of other sailors, the family finds themselves stranded in paradise. They made it as far as Tahiti in remote French Polynesia, one of the last places to offer refuge as borders slammed shut. (Kristen Pankratz via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Kristen Pankratz and her parents find themselves stranded in paradise along with hundreds of other sailors.

They were on their dream trip around the world when the coronavirus pandemic spread. They made it to Tahiti in French Polynesia as borders shut.

With South Pacific countries not yet ready to reopen, they find themselves with no way forward, no way back, and not wanting to abandon their boat. There are some 550 sailboats currently sheltering in French Polynesia, according to maritime authorities.

There are hundreds more sailors stranded elsewhere in the South Pacific — in Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and Australia.

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