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They Left to Sail Around the World. It Was Bad Timing

Aussie family of 5 stranded at sea on yacht during coronavirus outbreak
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2020 8:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – An Australian family of five sailing around the world is "suddenly stateless" amid the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. 9News reports on the plight of Craig and Dianna Sparks and their 10-year-old triplets—Lawson, Oscar, and Avalon—who pushed off from Brisbane 10 months ago in their yacht. Fast-forward to the present, and the clan is now stranded in international waters in the Caribbean Sea, the borders of nearby islands closed off to them due to fears of COVID-19. "It's like you're walking around in a movie," Dianna Sparks says. "It's quite weird." The family says it recently tried to land on St. Lucia, but that island was closed off about 30 minutes before they arrived.

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"Every country in ... the Eastern Caribbean is shutting its borders, slamming them like doors," Dianna Sparks says. The family then planned to try for Panama, but they soon learned armed guards there are restricting access to the Panama Canal. Complicating matters, they're receiving information that's either misleading or outdated by the time it reaches them. The Sparkses will have to improvise on protective gear when they eventually find their way ashore. "We have to make masks out of paper towels," Dianna Sparks says, her husband modeling one for the camera. "Isn't that attractive?" At any rate, by all appearances the triplets seem cheerful even given the strange situation. "It's quite an adventure for all of us," one of the children says. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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