Do you know that moment in life where you just feel that something needs to change?
Tomer and I found ourselves faced with a dilemma - I had just finished my Master’s degree and Tomer, who thanks to Covid managed to find a job working from home, needed to decide if he wanted to start searching for a new one. There was a lot of uncertainty because of the pandemic. On the other hand, it had opened a lot of doors for us. One of which was the fact that it suddenly became very common to work from home. Slowly we realized that we had the perfect opportunity to take a break from the race of life and go on an adventure.
As part of our decision to take the yacht business more seriously, I started working as a Skipper at the marina in Herzliya in order to gather up some experience, and Tomer began studying all the theoretical materials for the Skipper Course. We had a lot of spare time and we spent most of it reading or watching videos about anything and everything related to yachts - how do you pick one, what does life on a yacht look like, how do you sail correctly, what is good or bad weather, etc etc.
As part of our preparations, my amazing bosses would allow Tomer and I to sail out at the end of the workday. You could say this was our first real experience on a boat, sailing. I won’t forget the moment when we had the Main Sail and the Jib opened up (the first time the wind was perfect) and we turned off the engine. Tomer looked at me in awe and said “wow, so quiet!” It was an incredible moment, the boat was sailing so fast and everything was so silent and calm. We felt completely alone in the world. Tomer didn’t stop talking about that day for long after, and still claims it was the moment that made him realize that sailing is for him.
Simultaneously, Tomer was taking his Skipper exams - Seamanship, Instrument Navigation, Mechanics. We began talking to all sorts of people related to it - friends living on yachts, insurance agents, brokers, sailing instructors, and step-by-step we put together a vision of the world we were stepping into.
The pace was increasing. I guess you can say that unofficially we had decided that our next step is living on a yacht, we just hadn’t yet figured out all the small details of when and how. Looking back, I think the preparation we did beforehand was very thorough. We asked around a lot, looked up yachts online, and started forming an opinion on what we think suits us best.
I think the bravest step we took up until that point was going to look at a yacht for sale in the Tel Aviv port. This was a Moody ‘42 year 1987 (if I remember correctly about the year). We got to the marina, met Avi, the guy in charge of the shipyard who connected us to the owner of the yacht. When we got there he said we should feel free to look at anything we want, however the truth is, we didn’t really know what we were looking at. This was probably the second one we had ever seen. I guess he figured out who he was dealing with because he gave us a complete and guided tour of that yacht. In the end when we sat down for a cup of coffee (they were great hosts) he dropped the bomb - the cost was 320 thousand shekels. We almost took off, but we managed to thank them and say a nice goodbye beforehand. We went back to Avi who took us to see some more boats for sale in the marina. We were always disappointed. Without really knowing a great deal, we got the feeling that many of the yachts in Israel weren’t necessarily of high quality – and often unmaintained in some important aspects – like the body of the boat and the engine, the sails, or basically any part of the boat we would look at seemed worn off, and often in bad shape. Besides that, most yachts in Israel were missing crucial parts like a rescue rig, EPIRB, a dingy, and more equipment that was necessary for us to live the way we were planning to live. And, of course, all this was also matched with a ridiculously expensive price, completely unproportional to the condition of the yacht.
We didn’t give up and we kept searching whilst still exploring and entering the world of yachts. We looked everywhere, second-hand websites, forums, Facebook, anywhere. At one point we found an ad on a second-hand website offering a Comet yacht for sale in the south of Israel. It was model ‘82. We approached the guy and arranged to meet with him, which obviously became an excuse to take the yacht out for a ride. Honestly, we loved it. The Comet looked good, in great shape and very well preserved. We even loved the interior design. On top of it all, the price wasn’t completely outrageous (about $60K). After consulting with our experts, we decided to dig a little deeper. This is the point where I tell you if you don’t already know, that the most important thing in order to buy a yacht in Israel is to check, double-check, and recheck again if its taxes have all been paid. That’s also the reason why yachts are so expensive in Israel: When they are brought to the country there is a 32% tax to be paid, made up of 15% buyers tax and another 17% VAT. This was an issue for us that raised some concerns and problems.
I guess you can say that unofficially we had decided that our next step is living on a yacht, we just hadn’t yet figured out all the small details of when and how.
Despite that, we were thrilled. We were picturing our life on the yacht, how we would take a year and a half to renovate it to our liking (since there was practically nothing on it designed for living - thus meaning needing to build from scratch an entire electrical system, to add the navigation devices, rescue equipment, a dingy, and more), and all the while learning how to sail, maybe even saving some money until Tomer would finish his Skipper training and we would be on our way. But we kept digging.
Suddenly, our expert friends advised us not to enter this whole ordeal. They explained how it could take a very long time, and a huge amount of money and effort, and that working on an old yacht you never really get the job done. In hindsight, I can say for sure that working on a newer yacht never really ends either, but we probably did ourselves a huge favor not picking that yacht. What our friends did recommend, however, was to start looking at yachts in Greece. They claimed that the quality of the boats there was much higher, that they come much better equipped for life on a yacht, and that since the Israeli tax isn't included in the price, they are also significantly cheaper. We were intrigued by the idea and slowly started letting go of the Comet yacht.
At this stage, we realized that if we want a yacht that would answer all of our demands we need to start seriously looking abroad. We found some models we liked, began to form a solid opinion, and decided that what would suit us best is a Central Cockpit, considering it had the most comfortable design - a large and spacious bedroom in the back, a rather fancy kitchen, and basically a perfectly sorted yacht for a couple to live on.
We continued to play with the different ideas and explore all the possibilities, and all this might I remind you was during the pandemic. When Tomer went on an unpaid leave it was a crucial moment for us (and frankly one of the best moments of our life) because it led to a few major realizations: first of all, it made us understand that it was time for us to take a break (thank you universe for letting it happen) and take our caravan for a trip around the country. One of the most amazing experiences of our lives, two months on the road no stopping. I got to know our little country from a whole other perspective. We had a pair of bikes with us, and we simply moved from forest to forest, riding non-stop, and from beach to beach, surfing and surfing. It was a dream come true. During our trip we realized this was probably our goodbye trip from our beloved caravan. We figured out that now, once we were both done with school on one hand, but on the other hand can’t really get back to our jobs (which was out of our hands), the stars had aligned just right to allow a once in a lifetime opportunity. We decided it was the perfect moment to finally live out our lifelong dream. So we offered the caravan for sale, a difficult decision all on its own - we loved that car, and didn’t quite feel yet that we were done living that lifestyle. On the other hand, we knew this was a one-time chance only. Eventually, we sold our caravan to a TV production called “After Army Trip” and two weeks later we found ourselves on a plane, heading straight to Preveza, Greece.