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Living at a distance to escape the coronavirus


Living at a distance amid the coronavirus pandemic can be challenging. And hearing all of the information that’s out there can be frightening. The members of one local family decided that the best way to stay safe was to leave town and live on their boat.

Melissa Meister, her husband, Stephen, and their daughter, 13-year-old Macaela, are in St. Thomas, where their boat was moved in December. The North Shore family is enjoying sunny skies and 80-degree temperatures.

They had planned to vacation on the boat during spring break, but Stephen left sooner, on March 10, when he heard of the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Melissa and Macaela, a student at Greenvale School, stayed behind because of upcoming tests and a play that Macaela was scheduled to appear in at school. But Greenvale closed on March 11.

There are far fewer cases of the virus in the Virgin Islands, Melissa said, so she joined her husband. “We went to the British Virgin Islands first because there were zero cases there, but then we heard that the border was closing, so we went to St. Thomas,” she said. “We’ve been on an adventure, and have found deserted beaches, are hiking and fishing. Online classes start for Macaela on Monday.”

Melissa said she missed her parents, who live in Glen Cove, and her two dogs, who are being cared for by a friend living in their house. He says the dogs are fine, and Melissa speaks to her parents on her cellphone, which she said is comforting.   

Because the cell service is excellent, Stephen said he can continue his work as an attorney. And the boat has all the comforts of home, including an oven, a refrigerator and a freezer. “We have a Soda-stream maker, where you can carbonate water from the sea and drink it,” he said. “And every once in a while we go to another island to get food and boat supplies. Sometimes I go under the boat to scrape the barnacles off. This is a little different than living on Long Island, but it’s nice.”