Cargo Ship Crew Stuck in China Due to Covid Delays and Quarantine
, 2022-06-06 07:33:56,
Sometimes Madeleine Wolczko dreams of her runs up the mountainsides of the Sierra Nevada, or the weekends diving for abalone off the Mendocino coast. Her only travels these days are in her mind.
Wolczko, a graduate of the California State University Maritime Academy in Vallejo, has been stranded on a cargo ship in Shanghai since early February.
She is the second officer and primary navigator of the President Wilson, a container ship that left Oakland in January and now has become a kind of prison. The Chinese authorities have not let her or any of the crew members, all American nationals, disembark, not even dockside, while the ship undergoes maintenance delayed by Covid lockdowns.
As the monthslong quarantine lifted in Shanghai last week and jubilant residents descended into the streets, Wolczko sat in her cabin dispirited and pining for the day when she and the rest of the crew aboard the President Wilson will be able to sail again.
“It gets to a point where you really have to numb yourself to it, otherwise you spiral in this downward despair,” Wolczko said by telephone on Friday as she jogged on the ship’s rickety treadmill. Of the nearly 30 crew members onboard, she is the only woman.
She vents her frustration by kickboxing a punching bag in the gym. But it’s the mental blows that hurt the most, the false rumors about being airlifted, the many departure dates that have come and gone.
“It definitely feels we are getting bludgeoned over and over again and at this point are just kind of taking the hits,” she said.
She was supposed to be done with this tour of duty on March 18.
The crew has survived the ordeal with dark humor and Chinese government rations of vegetables: cucumbers, winter squash, carrots, broccoli and daikon.
And Wolczko, figuratively, has made…
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