I am Natasha Wijtenburg. Second in command, Wife, Mother and Teacher on Deusa.
I grew up in a small town, North West of South Africa – Rustenburg.
Growing up, we never really traveled further away than 200 – 400km from home. In my early twenties, I decided to leave that small town in pursuit of a more adventurous life and moved South to Cape Town. Living 1200km away from my cocoon I grew up in, it almost felt like I was living in another country. Money was tight and frequent trips back home was not possible. It was there in beautiful Cape Town, where I met skipper Derek. I heard via the grapevine that he travels to Johannesburg every few months and asked him if I could travel with him on his next trip to go visit my family in Rustenburg.
After 12 long hours driving to Johannesburg and 12 more back to Cape Town, we had a bit of time to chat and get to know each other. From then on, I received frequent invitations to come have a cup of morning or afternoon tea. Tea invites slowly extended to dinner invites and love started to bloom. Oh, those days, sweet, young love! I was only 22 then.
Shortly after we met and fell in love, we moved to Johannesburg.
I got a job and studied part time (drama and stage), while Derek worked alongside his Father and Brother in their family business. Soon, we were so entrenched in the “norm”- work hard, set up a home, start a family. Our beautiful blessing, a little girl was born 3 days before my 26th birthday. Two years later we got married. We were focused on our goal, work hard, set up a home, expand with the family.
Derek and I wanted 4 children, we both come from big families, so we started building a huge house when our first born was 2 years old. (It turns out 12 years later, that our only deck hand will be our one daughter, Nikita)
Off course we didn't know this back then, our hearts were filled with goals and dreams that satisfy the “norm”.
So we carried on, running around on a building site, ordering bricks and cement, carting tile samples, door handles and taps back and forth. By this time, I was also studying full time, (massage therapy) being a Mom, travelling to Rustenburg several times a month to assist with my Mom who had cancer and later “inherited” my teenage sister. After our home was complete, I opened a small massage therapy clinic from the cottage on our property at home. I continued to study in this line and also qualified as a registered Bowen therapist two years ago.
Meanwhile, Derek’s days were far more intense in comparison, as he helped grow and expand their family business.
I remember when we first arrived in Johannesburg, their business catalog consisted of around 10 pages and about 300 line items. Today, about 16 years later it is a staggering 100 page catalog with around 1700 line items. Those guys sure do work hard! Derek had a pivotal part in the business as he ran operations, productions, stock control, dispatch, engineering and more, so much more.........
Our focus and drive to succeed was leading to a burn out.
Saturdays were usually spent catching up with family and friends and Sundays we couldn’t do much more than being couch potatoes before heading back to our individual rat race on a Monday morning. Something had to change! Our daughter was spending her life with two burnt out parents. We had a family meeting and realized that we were living a life of all work and little play. This included our daughter, who was caught out bunking extra murals to play on the play ground!
Her life pretty much consisted of school, extra murals, homework, study, eat, sleep!
We wowed to start doing something fun every second weekend. We did things like ice skating, paragliding, tree top climbing, taking short road trips, to name a few. However, a few hours of downtime on a weekend and the annual beach holiday wasn’t satiating. There was something missing.
It was when my daughter was 10 years old that I had this brilliant idea to enroll her into sailing school. Going to sailing school every 6 weeks, was the most fun we’ve had as a family in years. It didn’t take long before we decided to get a yacht of our own. Something small we thought. A yacht big enough for our family and some friends to explore the Vaaldam on weekends. (Vaaldam – Free state, approximately 100km from our home) Everyone was ecstatic about this plan and for a while we forgot about our weekly entrapment in the rat race. We felt alive again!
After a few weeks of searching, we found Deusa. It was love at first sight for Derek. I could literally see little emojies with heart eyes beaming from his face. We negotiated for a few months with Her then owner, made an offer and became the new proud owners of Deusa. Gosh, now what! Deusa needed so much work done before she could sail, we now spent every weekend working on her, (mostly Derek) as I soon decided I’d do a better job encouraging Derek than I would with a sanding machine! Now it was ALL work and NO play – 7 days a week! Somehow it didn't matter.
Derek continued on like a steam train, pouring his energy, blood (yes, there’s always a bit of blood when using tools), sweat and frustrations into stripping Deusa for a refit. He was determined to get her into the water ASAP.
All those hours spent stripping and fixing Deusa, started waking up a lifelong dream in him. Ever since I met Derek, he told me that one day he would like to go sail around the world. (I just didn't know he meant inevitably – he was never specific on how long) Thinking back now to those early days of dating, he used to ask questions like “do you like the feeling of wind in your hair” or “do you get sea sick”. I didn't think much of his questions back then, but now I'm thinking he was fishing for a life partner.
SAIL AROUND THE WORLD! I started thinking of the things I would have to give up. Our beautiful home, my clinic I worked so hard on to get it to where it is today, family and friends, convenient lifestyle, my head started spinning.
Could I give all this up to go sail on a tiny yacht (comparing to our home) in the middle of the huge Ocean! Three quarters of the world consist of water, we’ll get lost! I was scared! Was my husband going mad, was he having a mid life crises?
After months of talking about this idea and my husband calming my fears, it was time for me to go sit down and give this some real thought.
It didn't take me long to realize I have to do this. Marriage is all about give and take right. My husband has given me a life I couldn't even dream of. He gave me the privilege of being a “stay at home” Mom. He build us a beautiful home. He financed my studies and helped me set up my clinic. He has supported me when I lost my Mom, my Gran, my Sister and my Brother. He has truly been my anchor in a storm.
Now its my turn to help make his dreams come true. The idea has grown completely on me now and there is no way I would want to turn back.
I’ve been abundantly blessed in my life, but I’ve also suffered great losses, such as the recent death of my young 18 year old sister 10 months ago. It is often not with the blessings that we receive deeper meaning to life, but with the losses.
Loosing me sister a short while ago, also forced me to reevaluate what is important in life. I suddenly became a whole bunch less sentimental about earthly goods. I realized the value of being together with loved ones, I realized life can be short and unpredictable.
I don't think its coming 1st 2nd or 3rd in the rat race, I don't even think its running it at all. Sometimes with having less, we actually have so much more.
More time with my loved ones. Quality time. I'm no fool, I know there will be everyday challenges, and I'm sure at times more challenging at sea.
I'm ready for it, I think it will be worth it. I cant wait to sail away with my husband and my daughter.
May all our Angels be our North star.