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From Life in a Caravan to Life on a Boat – Part 1

By Yifat Shamir from Sailing Trio
Published January 3, 2022

To explain, let me start by telling you a bit about myself.

My name is Yifat, I'm 28 years old, and I've been living and breathing the sea for the past ten years. It all started in the military when I enlisted in the Israeli Navy in a unit called Snapper (and later on continued to serve in the Navy's scuba unit) and fell in love. Everything felt so natural - the sailing and the diving- I didn't want it to stop!

So I kept going! After a year and a half of traveling worldwide, I came back to Israel with one goal in mind - I'm going to be a scuba instructor. And that's what happened - I moved to Eilat (the most southern city in Israel on the coast of the Red Sea) for six months, got trained as a scuba instructor, and went on to work at a diving school in the city. That's also where I met Tomer, the love of my life, who's been with me on this journey! I guess you can say that's where it all started.

While working at the diving club, I went crazy with curiosity - what am I seeing underwater? Why is it like this? Then, I felt that I needed to learn about this place that I love so much. That's when I decided to move on to the next stop - the Institute for Marine Science in Mikhmoret, where I got my BA in Marine Biology. The degree was a dream come true. There are good people, vast amounts of knowledge in the field, and a bonus - a Skipper Course built into the study program. For three years, I breathed the ocean every chance I got - whether studying about it in class, diving in it, or surfing on it. I was truly addicted.

After graduating, I felt that I needed to travel some more, preferably by the sea, and I had this one big dream in mind - crossing the Atlantic Ocean. So I began searching for ways to join a cruise, talking with people, writing on forums, and finally, I found a ride (who eventually blew me off last minute!) But I didn't let that break my spirit, and I decided to live out a different dream. So I traveled to the Philippines and did Kite Surfing for three months.

Coming back from my trip, I wanted to study some more, so I got my Master's degree studying the Sdot Yam coastal region (located in the center of Israel, along the Mediterranean Sea). This was another two years spent in the Haifa University, during which Tomer and I lived in a caravan. When I think about it, the caravan was the first turning point on the road to where we are today.

The caravan was, in fact, Tomer's dream. I forgot to mention this before, but Tomer is a mechanical engineer, extremely talented, and gifted with hands of gold. At first, he wanted to buy a van and turn it into a caravan, but after digging, we decided we wanted to buy an “antique” motor home. The first home we found in Switzerland. We traveled there and brought it with us back to Israel.

Then came COVID which completely reshuffled the cards for us. We finally got some time off to enjoy the life we have chosen.

We lived in it for two years. At a certain point, we found our way to a horse farm near a tiny beach town in the north of the country, though we never fully got to enjoy it there. Traveling back and forth to work or school prevented us from truly experiencing the paradise we were living in. 

And then came Covid and completely reshuffled the cards for us. Tomer got an unpaid leave from work, and we finally got some time off to enjoy the life we have chosen. We planted a vegetable garden and even built a free-range chicken coop. Kiddo, our dog, served as a herding dog for the hens.

In fact, we suddenly realized that we had a whole natural reserve just for ourselves. The transition was sudden. We found ourselves isolated, cut off from the rest of the world, in this amazing bubble, a direct passage to our private beach, surfing all day long, working in our garden (oh yeah, and sometimes studying a bit, too).

It was at that moment that the dream started coming together. We felt awakened. We began to ask ourselves - where was this life all along? Why couldn't we, up until this moment when it was forced upon us to take a time-out, decide for ourselves to take it easy and simply - rest? To focus our lives on the simple things close to nature.

The dream continued, and at a certain point, we decided we wanted to travel (after all, at this point, any traveling we did was still 1,000 meters from home). We had the happiest two months of traveling around our magnificent country, meeting the good people who live in it, and mostly exploring this new way of simple and humble life we had become addicted to. Our caravan took us everywhere - south, north, east, all over the country.

In the dry desert or along the Sea of Galilee, up in the mountains or down by the dead sea, there isn't a corner of the country we didn't reach. We all (including Kiddo) started getting used to life on the move. No permanent home. Everything is temporary, and “home” is wherever we were, every day with a different view out the window (well, actually, out the windshield). The only downside was the water. We carried a 200 Liter tank of fresh water, and we needed it for drinking, showering, dishes, and almost everything. We would fill the tank every two days or so. In terms of electricity, we were pretty independent since we had solar panels and a quite sophisticated system (though without A/C).

Living in the caravan kept us going. However, this lifestyle, especially in our small and crowded country, had some issues. After two years of traveling all over, we slowly realized that maybe the land borders, especially of our tiny country, are just not wide enough for us. It started with the authorities closing down our beach. I won't get into the reasons, but we felt haunted. There were almost no places alongside the beach where we were allowed to sleep. We either had to pay or weren't allowed to enter other places. We had envisioned this perfect and untouched natural world, completely cut off from all civilization, and instead, we kept getting faced with difficulties and challenges. Even when we did want to stay somewhere rather permanent, there were issues. Anywhere we went, we got turned down.

Of course, all-in-all this was an amazing experience. Still, I never forgot my long-life dream of crossing the ocean and seeing the world. Once every few months, I would remind Tomer that we're going to make that dream come true one day, and that would be the next step after the caravan. 

So finally, we decided - on to the next dream!

How did we do it?

Find out in our next post.


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