It’s no secret foreigners fall in love with Croatia the moment they set foot on our coast. Some loves are stronger than others, though, judging by Gerald Ulm, a 63-year-old coming from Graz who told his story to Jutarnji.
Ulm has always been enamoured with the sea and sailing, and is now finally making his lifelong dream come true: he’ll be sailing around the world for three years, accompanied by his current life partner.
He was born in Graz, in a modest family where every cent was hard-earned. One day, Ulm came across a story by Jules Verne – judging by his current obsession, we’re certainly talking about the one taking place 20000 leagues under the sea – and that was the start of him dreaming about owning a boat. When he was a schoolboy, he found a job at the local lake and started saving money. Fast forward to 18, the age when most teenagers can’t wait to get their driving licence, but you’ve probably guessed: instead of learning how to drive a car, he opted for a sailing school and got his licence on the first try. He used his savings to buy a boat, the one he took on a trip to Croatia and found it a berth in Pula.
“Pula has been and still is my closest marina, as I can be here in 4.5 hours. It’s a beautiful port, the Adriatic is gorgeous, everything is close by. Croatia has really become by nautical home”, says Ulm.
He’s now on a journey of a lifetime, as he sold his first boat and bought another in Netherlands, naming it Carpe Diem. He first sailed from Pula to Brijuni, then headed south along the coast. “I come here as often as I can, as this is where I live my real life. You know, I used to be a pool manager, monitored the water quality, did a number of other related jobs. Then I met my current life partner, we started to sail the Adriatic and luckily, she started to enjoy the whole venture with me.”
Ulm then decided to make his lifelong dream come true: sailing around the globe on his 12m boat. He’s now preparing for the kick-off planned for September.
“How, why? That’s real passion, and we’ve been living together for two years and believe we’re ready for such an adventure. Madness? No, don’t be ridiculous, people sailed around the world on much smaller boats”, Ulm said, laughing. “First the Mediterranean, then the Atlantic. It’s nice to sail around the Adriatic, but once your reach the open sea, everything is different. We’re waiting for favourable winds and hope to sail the world in three years. Are we afraid? I’d be lying if I said we’re indifferent, but all I want is for my partner not to push me overboard somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. That’d be enough for starters.” he said.
Ulm defies the stereotypical notion of a sailing tourist, as there’s no champagne and caviar on his boat. He’s modest, and Carpe Diem is equipped for them to get by, not to enjoy outstanding comfort. “If you want to live modestly, if you love this life, you don’t need a lot of money. Our budget for the next three years comes down to €2.500 a month. Okay, you need to know those three years won’t include nostalgic plane trips to Graz or magical dinners on sand dunes. No, we’re set for humble sailing with a goal of sailing around the world, not living the luxurious life most people equal to sailing. This is how some people live, and that’s fine, but I don’t think of sailing as my image – it’s my life.” stated Ulm.