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"Do you miss the Netherlands?" is a question that we expected to be asked every now and then, but so far that question has never been asked. I think that after reading our reports, the answer is too obvious to ask that question at all.
We "text" a photo home from a canoe that is alongside our boat. "What did that man come to sell you?" my mother asks. Um, ma, that man didn't come to sell anything, that man came to give something. We received two coconuts as a welcome gift. And at the same time, I realize that since we've been in the Pacific, we've never had a salesman with our boat. When someone comes to paddle to our boat, it is always to give something and/or to invite us to a meal or a party. It is almost becoming normal, but such a question makes you realize again what kind of culture you come from. In the Netherlands I always walk to the door with suspicion when the bell rings, and that suspicion only increases when someone comes to give me something. You will be offered a gift but to receive it you have to take out a subscription or something. It is therefore confusing at first to see a cheerful man in a canoe who comes to give you a bunch of bananas or something and do not need anything in return.
In the Caribbean, which is a tourist fair compared to the Pacific, we mainly had the feeling of being "on vacation". We were considered tourists there: If a local boat came to you, it was to sell you something, ashore you could find restaurants everywhere. That has changed since we sailed around the Pacific; if a local boat comes to you, it is to give you something, ashore you will not find restaurants but you are invited to eat at people's homes. We feel at home here, we like the lifestyle. We have more social contacts than we had in the Netherlands. Our health is better than ever. We enjoy life.
We miss our animals, family and friends (in no particular order), but we don't miss the Netherlands that much. The longer you are away, the more different ways of living you see, the more other cultures and fellow sailors you meet, the crazier the Netherlands becomes.
What we don't miss about the Netherlands
The list of things we miss in the Netherlands is smaller than the list of things we do not miss.
- The gray weather image.
- Rainy, gray, drizzle and chilly; unfortunately that is often the weather picture in the Netherlands and we do not miss that! The climate here on the Pacific is pleasant. It is always warm, but not too hot. That's because the islands are small compared to the ocean. The ocean water is always around 28 degrees so with a little wind the island can't get much warmer than that. And at 28 degrees, the ocean water is just the right temperature to cool off during a dive without cooling you down too quickly. Of course we sometimes long for beautiful freshly fallen snow, and the scent and color of the autumn leaves during a walk in the woods, but when the sense of reality returns, we know that most Dutch winters pass without snow and we stare at gray sky and with chilly drizzle for weeks. dealing. Every spring we yearn much too early for the spring that often takes too long to come.
- We actually determine everything here ourselves. The longer you are here, the more natural that becomes. In fact, everything we still need to do has something to do with the Netherlands. We cannot decide for ourselves whether we clean our own ditch, the water board will decide that for us. We have to pay road tax for a car that we do not use. Suspend you say? No, that is not possible, because for us it has been determined that we will be unsolicited again after a year of suspension unless we personally appear at the post office with registration certificate and identification to extend the suspension, but that is not possible now. I pay sewerage charges even though I have not used the sewer for a year. I have to fill in tax forms and I get an error if I don't enter a phone number. Can I no longer decide for myself that I do not want to be called by the tax authorities on the other side of the world when it is night here? Speaking of taxes: I have no objection in itself to contributing to society, but I do not object to the lack of choices in this regard. With my money a new coal-fired power station is being built and I am obliged to contribute to causing an inevitable climate disaster. My money is used to pay a child subsidy (child benefit) while the Netherlands is already overpopulated. With my money they buy Joint Fight Strikers or something and other weaponry. Others decide what happens with my money and how I should spend my life, I am a pawn in a monopoly game and I have to follow the rules, but at birth I was never asked if I actually feel like playing this game .
- The sense of threat.
- In the Netherlands you constantly have the feeling that there is a threat. Is the housing market not going to collapse? Will the tax not be so high that I can no longer pay it? Will I have enough pension in the future? Will we have an attack or even a war with IS? What if climate change really continues? Will there be another stock market crash?
We're not that vulnerable here in the Pacific. As long as there are fish swimming around here and coconuts and bananas grow like weeds, we have enough to eat. We produce energy ourselves, as well as our drinking water. We can be completely self-sufficient here if we have to. And if there is "unrest" somewhere, we simply sail to a place where it is safer. We have much more control over our own lives here.
- The consumer society.
- In the Netherlands, your head is constantly being run wild by the advertisements. Every 15 minutes, radio and TV turn your living room into a marketplace where you are unabashedly yelled at what to buy to become happier. On the internet, the brightly colored texts jump over your screen and you have to filter the government announcements from the "free" door-to-door papers that mainly contain advertising. In the Netherlands you are considered as a consumer cattle and the behavior of the people is accordingly. In fact, everything revolves around consumption and the idea prevails that you become happier the more you spend and choose more expensive alternatives. Which of course does not work and therefore it is not surprising that the Netherlands is listed in the top 10 of the most prosperous countries, but at the same time ended up in the top 10 of the countries with the most dissatisfied inhabitants.
- The Netherlands is an expensive country. We actually pay a lot to "be allowed" to live in the Netherlands. Here on the Pacific we hardly spend any money. The largest cost item we currently have is the entire circus that we keep running in the Netherlands. Mortgage, energy for heating, all kinds of taxes, insurance, and so on. There is hardly any escape, even for a "cabin on the heath" you have to pay a lot of money. In the Netherlands there is not much and so easy "free food" as here. In the Netherlands it is not possible to live without energy costs. In the Netherlands you have to work to survive, but the money you earn is largely spent on all kinds of devious taxes. Only a very small part of the profit that our company generates ends up in our bank account. And if we spend that remainder of money, a substantial share will again go to the tax authorities.
- The people.
- You only have to sit in a car for five minutes in the Netherlands and the mentality is immediately clear: "ikke, ikke, ikke". For comparison, walk around the capital of Tahiti, a country where there is hardly any police control, and you will immediately notice that every motorist stops as soon as a pedestrian even looks at a pedestrian crossing. Literally. And then the people behind the wheel also give you a friendly wave. And when was the last time you received something from an unknown Dutch person without anything behind it, or when did a stranger wave friendly to you? According to statistics, half of the Dutch do have an argument with at least one of their neighbors. The Dutch are especially intolerant. Our neighbors who live 100 meters away have poisoned our dogs because they think they are "bothered" by it. We do not miss the Dutch mentality.
It will come as no surprise that we wonder what the weather will be like in the Netherlands, and whether we really want to continue the rest of our lives in the old way, as consumption cattle and cog in an intolerant society that has increasingly opposed us . Whether we can give shape to our wish to live mainly ecologically and with a low "carbon footprint" in the Netherlands. And what it is like to live relatively "lonely" in the Netherlands again, while here on the Pacific we have so many social contacts with other cruisers and the local population.
The Pacific is "asking for more". The area is far too beautiful and far too big to explore in ONE boating season. We would have liked to have stayed longer on the Marquises. Of the 78 atolls of the Tuamotu, we only "saw a little" 3. We would have liked to have used the hospitality for longer, we left everywhere with open invitations for another party or dinner.
We come across them here frequently: the "indefinite sailors". They have been sailing around here for years and do not want anything else. They have got to know the most beautiful places, have friends among the local population everywhere, they live like God in France and have a great time for little money. They watch the parade of boats that race past here every sailing season, like Japanese on a 2-week Europe tour, hastily on their way to see "the whole Pacific" before December and arrive in New Zealand.
We do not yet know how, what and when, but we have decided that we want to return here eventually. Here to the Pacific, where life is good. Where food grows like weeds, where people are smiling and generous. Where the climate is always pleasant. Where we start the day with a morning dive in azure blue water with colorful fish around us, and where we end the day sucking on a coconut with some rum, meanwhile philosophizing with fellow sailors or locals about that strange world far from here .
One of the goals of our trip was to discover paradise. We have discovered paradise, and that completes our mission. Racing at a tourist pace doesn't feel right anymore ...
Indeed ... We have decided not to continue. Undoubtedly there is also a lot to see in Asia and when we have to visit Africa to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. But above all it is a lot of sailing and the beauty that awaits there is not worth the long journey that we still have to go. We dropped the original idea of sailing around the world before, our last idea was to "over summer" here on the Pacific (winter in the Netherlands) and then be back on the Pacific the next sailing season instead of on the Indian Ocean. But now that we have promised each other that we will eventually come back here indefinitely, it feels better to spend our time to give shape to this plan. So we are now going to New Zealand to sell Omweg there. To sell indeed, because our new plans also include a different boat. One on which we can live indefinitely, on which we can offer family and other visitors their own cabin, on which we can keep pets, and where we can take canoes, bicycles and other gross toys. However robust, seaworthy, reliable and good Detour turned out to be, no matter how bad we think it is, for our long-term plans a bigger boat is simply more suitable.
Questions and answers
Questions that we suspect will be asked; here are some answers:
- When are you going back to the Pacific?
- As soon as we are ready. We are not going to do anything hastily, but we are gradually going to make it possible to eventually leave indefinitely.
- So you choose to live in poverty?
- That is out of the question! There is no poverty here. Indeed, it costs us little as we live now. But at the same time we have seen that people pay thousands (!) Euros to live for a week as we now live here constantly! We were on Moorea among vacationers. They were in very expensive Hilton huts on the waterfront. In a cabin the size of our boat, and with the same view. They paid around 90 Euro per person for a touristic cruise where they were allowed to look at the stingrays and sharks. But we went there to watch for free in our own dinghy. The tourists eat fish there in the evening in the restaurant on the waterfront and are allowed to drink from a coconut, for 50 to 100 Euro per person, the same fish that we catch ourselves and the same coconuts that we collect ourselves and while enjoying the same view food, but all at no cost. Our lifestyles are expensive, life here is priceless ... except it doesn't cost anything our way.
- Can you just keep cruising around in the Pacific?
- Yes. It's bizarre, but this area is French Polynesia and therefore it falls under Europe. Our fellow sailors from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand are allowed to stay here as standard but only 90 days and have to pay a "rotten deposit", but we Dutch can stay here as long as we want. We have no costs here, not even for the boat. We anchor everywhere and that is free. You sail here completely free of charge. As long as you want. Well, after three years they find here that you have actually imported the boat and that you then have to pay 10% import duties, but if you don't feel like it, you sail away before that period has expired, so that the counter is reset again. and after that you can go for another three years for free. Sailing to another country every now and then to stock up on a cheap supply of rum is also no punishment.
- How about that other boat?
- We have looked at other cruisers on their boats and even sailed. For much less money than you would pay for a small house in the Netherlands, you have a large catamaran with 12 sleeping places, 4 bathrooms, 2 motors, and so on. You do not want to put such a floating island in a Dutch port, but here on the Pacific, where you only anchor, it is ideal. Of course we do not need all sleeping places and bathrooms, but part of the space can be converted into a workshop and storage space for bicycles, canoes and other bulky toys.
- Isn't life getting boring there?
- We don't think so. There is so much to discover that you can move forward here for years. French Polynesia alone is almost the same size as all of Europe. If we compare the average daytime activities in the Netherlands with our daytime activities here, our life in the Netherlands was much more boring. And with a larger boat, we have many more options: With our own diving compressor on board, we can go unlimited diving, Ilona would like to go kite surfing and I would like to windsurf. And we would like to focus more on publishing books, writing articles, building websites, etc. And we can do that just as well or better from the Pacific than in the Netherlands.
- What will happen to your company?
- We have an Internet business and the Internet allows us to continue to manage the business from anywhere in the world. The availability of the internet is not very favorable at the moment, but our plans include a satellite connection so that we have constant internet. We have to organize the storage of goods differently, but we initiated the necessary changes longer ago. As far as we are concerned, the activities will continue as usual.
- But what about healthcare?
- Health care seems to be fine here. Of course "first aid" is on average a bit further from home, sometimes very far. But on the other hand, this lifestyle poses fewer health risks. An average sailor is less likely to have a "belly" due to the exercise and healthier diet associated with this lifestyle, less risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and so on. Life in the Pacific is healthy, because of climate, food and the physical activities such as the daily dip in the clear water.
- What about the cyclone season?
- In the summer (winter in the Netherlands) there is a chance of cyclones here. However, that chance is not the same everywhere. In the Marquises, no cyclone has passed by in the last 30 years and that is why it is also a popular "hurricane hole". Many other "perpetual sailors" believe it and simply sail around in slightly more risky areas. Because all over the world you run certain risks, if it is not an earthquake or a volcanic eruption, it is a flood or a terrorist attack.
- Can I buy Detour?
- Yes, that's possible! If you are interested, please contact us as soon as possible. Detour will be available in December 2016 and for those with a serious interest in ocean sailing and cruising in fantastic spots, she is an absolute godsend. Extremely well equipped, almost everything replaced in 2015, and ready to go. Fly to New Zealand, sail around there in the summer in the beautiful sailing areas to get to know Omweg and leave for the tropics after the cyclone season! Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu and other beautiful tropical destinations are only about 1000 miles (= week by boat) away! If you come while we are still in New Zealand, we can show you around Omweg so that you know her as soon as possible.