From Constanta to Dubai: The Beginning of an Odyssey
Blimey! The flood of messages I received after announcing my world round trip to demonstrate that TECHNOLOGY IS AN ENABLER was overwhelming. Your plethora of questions ranged from my beginnings, reasons, boat procurement tales, hilarious stories, not-so-funny experiences, and many more.
Thus, I’ve decided to regale you with some tales in response. They might not appear in chronological order, but I promise a coherent flow.
As I’ve touched upon in my past musings (and you can delve deeper on my website’s “About Me” section), 2020 was a stark reminder of life’s fragility. Covid-19 almost stole me from this world, and, barely recuperating from that ordeal, another virus in the ICU sought to finish the job. Emerging from these battles, I was slapped with the realisation: life is ephemeral, potentially ending in the next fleeting moment. Thus, I was propelled to chase my dreams and began my hunt for a boat.
Admittedly, my boat knowledge was rather elementary at that juncture. My early physics lessons taught me the basics of why boats float and their movements irrespective of wind direction.
One invaluable piece of wisdom I had garnered in my youth was from a mentor who once remarked, “Misha, if you know instantly how to achieve a goal, it’s not ambitious enough. A genuine goal should leave you flabbergasted, wondering, ‘How the F#@%%$!% will I pull this off?‘” The secret? Break it down. Visualise your end goal, then backtrack, day by day, action by action.
When the audacious idea of a global sailboat trip entered my mind, it certainly gave me that flabbergasted feeling. So, I commenced the deconstruction process. My research on boats capable of such voyages led me to a list of brands and sizes, their unique features, and optimal ages. Interestingly, I’ll share why a brand-new boat wasn’t on my list in another tale.
Venturing outside the ‘common areas’ like the USA or Europe, I zeroed in on the Eastern Bloc. For some reason, many Westerners hesitated to explore these nations. My perseverance paid off. In just over a week, I discovered a boat – a Beneteau Oceanis 523, in Constanta, Romania. To my delight, it was approximately 25% cheaper than its counterparts in Italy or Greece.
One condition I stipulated in the offer was a personal inspection of the boat — I wanted to view it firsthand.
Normally, this would simply mean purchasing a ticket and flying to Romania. But amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Romania was designated a Red Zone. Entry was restricted to only residents or citizens, and with my Canadian passport, I was ineligible. This posed a significant challenge, given I had a mere two weeks to reach Romania and seal the deal for the boat.
I began pondering how to reach Romania, starting with the initial step of purchasing and checking in for a flight. Being a non-resident, buying tickets for Romania wasn’t straightforward.
Inspired by the well-known principle of tackling a challenge bit by bit, like “eating an elephant“, my first task was securing a flight ticket. After delving into numerous regulations and terms & conditions, I discovered I could travel to Romania if it was my layover destination. Consequently, I bought two flight tickets: Dubai to Bucharest, and then Bucharest to Toronto, with a layover exceeding 24 hours. At check-in in Dubai, explaining my indirect route raised eyebrows, but I managed to clarify my choice :).
Oh, did I forget a minor detail? I had no idea how to sail :)! During my boat search, I did enrol in a Skippers Course. But thanks to Covid, after a mere 4 hours, the course was postponed indefinitely.
So, with just enough knowledge to survive the initial minutes on a boat, a dream vessel located and an ingenious travel solution, I was ready to face further challenges. There was still a hefty portion of my metaphorical elephant to consume.
Do stay tuned for further tales. From sailing from Constanta, crossing numerous seas and channels, all the way to Dubai – there’s much more to recount in this epic journey!