“Life is like a box of chocolates…….” well, who wouldn’t know this legendary sentence?
Once again it proved to be true and, sadly, not in a very charming way.
In November 2016, my boss informed me that my current position will be eliminated.
That was so unexpected and took me totally by surprise. I was devastated, so it took me quite a while to digest the bad news.
Meanwhile, I received the notice with a cancellation period of three month. They really mean it!
Of course I started looking for a new job immediately after I got the message, but apparently – for the job market – I’m slightly too old. You have to be twenty-five, with 20 years working experience and under no circumstances have some salary expectations…tricky, tricky….
Well, well, instead of being disheartened, I now see this new situation as an opportunity to get a step closer to Patrik’s and my dream, called “Freja theCAT”.
Could it be fate?
Of course, we don’t want to rush things without proper planning and we surely don’t want to jump out of the frying pan into the fire.
Since this crazy exciting “sailing idea” popped up in our heads, we have gathered loads of information, read books and blogs, did our sailing training (and still do) and thought about all kind of necessary (and unnecessary) details. But most of all, we never had any doubt about our dream.
So, right now we fancy the idea moving to Malta.
Why Malta? Well, we have been there several times on vacation and fell totally in love with these islands and its people. Then, the language there is English – very practical – , the climate of course and it’s not too far away from Switzerland and Sweden. Which makes it easier to keep in touch with friends and family.
At the moment we are collecting all kind of information about Malta, such as job opportunities, tax system, health insurance, real estate possibilities – it has to be cat friendly of course – and a lot more.
But our next step is to get a rating of our house, after that we know more and can plan further….
Life is exciting, isn’t it? Is that maybe our chance to quit the rat race and finally follow our dream?
Patrik and I realised that we actually need a bit of equipment, when we go sailing in May.
At least some basic stuff.
Amongst other things (such as sailing ), we have learned in Malta, how important it is to have a functional jacket (called “tarpaulin” – stands for pants and jacket). Even when the temperatures are around 25 degrees C or more and the sun is shining, when sailing and getting wet, you quickly start freezing and it’s nice to have a warm water- and wind-tight jacket you can slip into.
Also, a pair of polarizing sunglasses are very important (as I painfully learned) and of course a proper hat (my fake straw hat was torn to shreds after three days…), or some other useful sunprotection for your head.
We even thought about buying our own life vests. I mean then you know at least, in which condition this lifesaving piece is in. Maybe not all charter companies service theirs as they are supposed to (just guessing…).
So, after searching the internet we discovered a trustworthy boat-accessories shop in Switzerland,
which apparently sells all the necessary (and maybe not so necessary, but nice to have) stuff you need on and around a boat. And it was true: From A as an anchor to Z as a zinc anode, one would find everything there …..
The good thing is, a lot of their products are on sale right now. Therefore, we decided to have a look there on Wednesday afternoon and almost couldn’t wait until the day finally arrived!
It was a wonderful and sunny day and it took us about an hour to get there and – Boy! – were we surprised when we walked in: A grand shop with about everything you can wish for…. awesome!
….erm….no, it was not! Except of all kind of clothes and shoes They sell books, maps, all kind of galley equipment, ropes, fenders, tools ….. and of course a lot of lovely deco stuff.
Nevertheless, in the end we’ve found what what we were hoping for!
We even tried on different kind of life vests, but didn’t buy one. The by the way, very kind sales assistant told us. That on charter boats, the safety gear is good maintained. She wouldn’t worry about that. OK then!
But to my own surprise, I bought a pair of sailing pants! It was such a bargain, I couldn’t say “no”. Plus – since I’m a bit superstitious – I believe that HAVING such an item with me, it won’t rain in Sardinia in May. But if I don’t, it surely will be pouring and I would regret, not having bought them, when I had the chance….know what I mean?!
Well, it truly was an exciting week…with Wednesday as its highlight!
Well, since Patrik and I did the RYA Day Skipper Tidal course last year. The next logical step is, to charter our own yacht, right?! We are talking about bareboat! Of course we need to practice what we’ve learned so far. We also want to proof to ourselves that we are able to handle a sailing boat – and each other on it.
No doubt about the type of vessel: It has to be a catamaran, in order to finally find out, what a multihull feels like.
So, the first task was to find an area we both like, not too far away from Switzerland, ideally reachable by car. We prefer low season, sunny and hopefully (already or still) reasonably warm weather, with only a modicum of tourists. The Mediterranean around Italy seems perfect, with its beautiful and many islands. Malta is unfortunately too far away to reach by car….
We soon settled for Sardinia, one week by the end of May, since friends of us travel there often and we, therefore, saw many spectacular photos of this isle. Plus it has been on our travel-bucket list for a while.
The good thing with Sardinia is, we can travel by car to either Genova or Livorno and take the ferry from there. Taking the car means, we can take our own bedding with us, plus towels, kitchen-stuff (we actually have a complete camping set, with dishes, glasses and pots) an even some food in the cool box – mainly vegetarian specialties, such as seitan- and/or soy-“meat”, which could be tricky to get in Italy.
Of course, charter boats do provide bedding, towels and kitchen gear, but a) often you have to pay extra for that and b) how clean is is? Yes, I admit, I’m a bit fussy when it comes to “that”. But hey, rather being like that that otherwise!
Anyway, back to searching a charter company, which offers catamarans on Sardinia. Sure enough, we found a choice of companies with suitable yachts – Leopard 384 was our N°. One, or a Lagoon 400 S2. The prices varied roughly between CHF 3’000.- and CHF 4’000.- per week, and each had different “T&C”. Then, there was the jungle about security deposits….
We started contacting the most promising ones (about four or five). First by asking a couple of questions through their chat-service on their websites, then by requesting an offer. Most of all we wanted to make sure, that our RYA certs were valid in Italy for bareboat charter, and – as we would have our car with us – if there was a car park available near the marina.
Soon it became apparent that it was very difficult for some companies to read our emails properly….Some answered not at all to our questions, but sent a copy/paste email back, others sent a 3-page offer with their whole fleet – including the ones, available skippered only *sigh*. Then, we also realized that many of these “Sailing Specialists” could hardly understand English (although one can choose from several communication languages – English was one of them), and Patrik and I doubted soon, if some of them knew what a vessel actually IS. To put it mildly, it was a bit frustrating with some of them.
I think it took over a week until we finally had the necessary answers from two charter companies. We settled eventually for the one. Who offered a Leopard 384 for the right price and service (the other one had a nice Lagoon 400 S2, also for an acceptable amount, but since we love kitties…. =^.^=….).
So, right now, the 50% down payment has been done. So we can concentrate on finding an attractive ferry connection to Sardinia. There you could also get a few surprises, if you don’t read and understand the small print.
I am a bit nervous, I have to confess, but Patrik is so certain and confident. He takes my little doubts away in a whoosh and reassures me that we will take it easy. Just have fun and practice and improve our gained skills.
At the moment he is preparing for the RYA SRC/VHF radio certificate. He is doing that online again – as he did the RYA Day Skipper Tidal theoretical course. For the exam he will have to travel to Constance (just over the border, in Germany, about 30-40 minutes from us) – which will be in March 2017.
It seems we will be well prepared and ready until May – Sardinia, we are coooooomin’ !!
Patrik and I always believed – and still do – that vegetarianism is a good thing.
It is important to us, not to be complicit in animal misery, by breeding them in factory-like environment, too often not being able to live a species-appropriate life, being transported under horrific circumstances and finally being killed in a slaughterhouse, as an anonymous creature. An animal that never experienced love, being petted or consoled by someone, and instead of having a name, died as a number in order to meet our demands.
When I stopped eating meat thirty+ years ago, it was clear to me that I also had to stop eating fish and poultry, since they also belong to the animal kingdom. To pass on fish was a bit harder I have to admit, I really liked it a lot….well, seafood in general.
Meanwhile I’m more than glad that I quit that kind of food too. It makes me sad and often gives me impotent anger, seeing how the oceans are being emptied and abused ! Why do some countries believe they have the right to kill whales and sharks, wipe out whole species – known or still unknown ones? Why is it still allowed drilling for oil and gas and pollute the oceans – also with fatal noise? Who “owns” the world and decides what’s worth to protect and what’s not? Doesn’t the world “belong” to all of us? To all creatures? Isn’t it wrong that only a handful of people rule our Earth and form it after their greed and liking?
In my opinion are we guests on our planet, being allowed to use it in a wise manner. Unfortunately, we do not know how to behave. Instead we bite the hand that feeds us and continue to destroy our world, as if we had a second one, we can move to, when this one is destroyed. When do people realize that money can’t be eaten?
As written in an earlier post, Patrik and I have started to cook vegan.
It’s more or less a bit of a challenge sometimes, to find the ingredients for the correct taste or consistency – especially if you try to keep it simple. Well, maybe it’s “wrong” to turn known recipes into a vegan version…..Who knows, but since we are still greenhorns, it’s the familiar stuff we are looking for (for the time being).
Anyhow, we soon realized that that brings a new problem – which we’re actually grateful for!
We never buy fast food (microwave food), but some things you (we) don’t do by yourself, such as chocolate, most cookies, crisps, crackers, some doughs (like puff pastry), margarine, cheese, …..only to name a few. Then you have soaps, cleaning agents, skin creams, …..you name it.
The good thing is, most of these foodstuffs exist also in a vegan version.
Nevertheless, we read the ingredients on the products anyway, since we are so used to it by being vegetarians. We soon discovered, though – to our disapproval – that at least 80% of the products contain palm oil.
That was a bit of a shock, to express it mildly….How is it ethically justifiable that – especially vegan food – is full of palm oil? It’s bad enough to find it anywhere else, just because it’s the cheapest oil on the market. But in vegan products?
I dare to say, that meanwhile, everyone is informed about palm oil production and knows that these are boring monocultures, wherefore thousands of square kilometers of precious rainforest is being sacrificed.
These forests are also the home of many endangered species. There are over 300,000 different animals found throughout the same forests where palm oil trees grow, many of which are injured, killed and displaced during deforestation.
Today rain forests are being cleared at the rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for oil palm plantations.
Clearing rainforest means, killing millions of animals – directly and indirectly.
So I’m asking: How can one justify using palm oil in vegan products? I simply don’t get it…..
When confronting distributors and shops, I usually got the lame answer that they try to avoid it, but – unfortunately – at the moment is no other product available. Wouldn’t it be in their hands (also) to contact the manufacturer, tell him about concerned customers and demand alternatives? I’m sure other vegetable oils would be available.
Are they too expensive maybe?
Well, Patrik and I are even more alert now. We read the ingredients on products without exception. And you know what? By doing so, we – nowadays – buy a lot less of unhealthy unnecessary stuff, such as chocolate, biscuits or crackers. Saving a few calories never hurt….
Eventually, it’s a matter of habit, when you go shopping and after a while you know the “good” brands and products and you don’t need to waste time by reading every packaging.
Once upon a time……Yes, that’s a perfect beginning to this heartwarming story!
A while ago, my friend Sabine told me the sad news about a horse she knows well and its owner. The woman owns four sport horses, mainly for jumping. Apparently, she is quite ambitious and participates in tournaments.
Well, someone who knows a bit about this sport, also knows that the horses have to jump faster and higher. Where is the limit, one would ask – and injuries are not seldom. Sadly, even deadly accidents do happen every now and then!
This unfortunate horse, called Orgon, is 14 years young, had an old injury which wouldn’t heal properly and the owner considered to give him away, since he couldn’t jump higher than one meter anymore. Otherwise, he’s still a perfectly healthy animal, which still enjoys long rides and even some exercises – only tournaments are not possible anymore.
When Sabine told me about this the first time, we both didn’t think much about it and assumed that the woman might find a new home for Orgon.
But on Monday evening, 12th December, an upset Sabine told me that the woman changed her mind and had decided to send him to the slaughterhouse, instead of giving him a chance with a new owner. The date was already fixed: On Thursday, 15th December he should die! That couldn’t be true!
Although, I never met that horse it really touched my heart and I simply couldn’t understand, how someone would send his (hopefully) once beloved animal to death, instead of caring for it, even if you can’t “use” it anymore. What’s wrong with these people? Aren’t you responsible for your animal during its whole life time? Even when it gets old, sick or maybe is not so pretty anymore? We are supposed to love our companion until it dies? My belief is that you care for it. As long as it’s not suffering and can be helped. You don’t just “throw” it away….
So Sabine asked me, if I maybe knew someone, who would be interested in that horse. She already contacted various rescue associations, but the problem was, that in such a short time it was almost impossible to find a good place – even a temporary one. After all, it’s a horse, not a hamster!
Of course I contacted people I know, who might know someone, but it was hopeless and mainly frustrating….
Then, early the next morning, I got a wonderful text message from Sabine. That a horse, once sentenced to death, had found a new home! On Wednesday, 14th December Orgon will be picked up by the new owner – a horse rescue center, at last. I cannot describe, how happy I was – my tears were not far away, that’s for sure! Of course I congratulated Sabine and told her, what a true hero she is…she never gave up on him!
Sabine also told me that she could even convince the woman to give Orgon for free to this center, although they had agreed to pay the slaughter price of CHF 600.-. But since they are dependent on donations, they of course were more than glad, not having to pay for him.
I know of course, this is an exceptional story with a happy ending for a once doomed animal. Too many others are not so lucky!
But in this case I’m overjoyed. and I wish Orgon a long and sunshiny life and I’m very pleased to end the story with the words: …..and lived happily ever after!