A Singaporean man was rescued by the Fiji Navy last week after spending nearly three months alone at sea after coronavirus border closures around the world prevented him from docking on dry land.
© Republic of Fiji Navy/Facebook
A Fiji Navy vessel approaching Wong’s yacht on April 30. Republic of Fiji Navy/Facebook
Wong Tetchoong, 59, set off on a cross-Pacific sailing trip on February 2, in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak when most cases were still confined to China.
He originally took the trip with two friends from Indonesia. But his trip took a turn on February 28, when his friends had to leave him to return to their home country, which was closing its borders due to coronavirus fears, he told the Fiji Sun on Tuesday.
Wong had wanted to dock in Indonesia, but couldn’t because the currents were too strong.
So he sailed to Papua New Guinea.
“I sailed to Papua New Guinea from Indonesia because the weather was okay, but when I reached the borders, they were closed so I continued again to the Solomon Islands,” Wong told the Fiji Sun.
“It was also closed, then I went to Tuvalu and they didn’t let me in, but the Tuvalu people provided me with food.”
Papua New Guinea had banned visitors traveling from Asian countries from late January over coronavirus fears. Both the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu declared states of emergency over the outbreak in late March.
After being rejected from a third country due to port closures, Wong said he had no choice but to sail to Fiji — a journey which took him six days and six nights.
He arrived in the waters surrounding Fiji on April 28, and found that the country also appeared to have beefed up border security.
But this time he couldn’t move on because the autopilot on his yacht was damaged.
Over the next two days, Wong’s yacht was further damaged by strong winds, at which point the Fiji Navy rescued him and helped bring his yacht into harbor on April 30.
Wong was allowed to dock in the country after talks between both the Fiji and Singaporean governments, according to The Guardian.
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Health officials boarded Wong’s yacht in full protective gear to conduct a health check. He was then taken to the hospital, but discharged on Saturday. Neither the Fiji Sun nor The Guardian said why he was taken into the hospital.
The Fiji Sun says Wong plans to return to his wife and two daughters in Singapore once borders reopen.
“This is my first time in Fiji, I really like it here. A big thank you to the Fijian Navy and the Fijian Government for coming to rescue me,” he said.
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