“What’ happened?” is the first Dieter asks when someone awakens him from his dream. If you want to ask a question to our captain, you should always start with his name, otherwise he stays undisturbedly captured in his world and the question flies quietly away. But when you have his attention, he leans emphatically forward and looks at you with a questioning face, waiting for the secret that is about to revealed. He answers all the time with the same meaningless words “I will have a look”, and then returns quietly to his dream.
Dieter Unterhollenberg is the captain of Jatinga, our captain and stand-in father for almost three months. His expression is serious, characteristic as you expect from an old sailor. With his stern look, his long eyebrows where you can make a paintbrush with and a golden earring in his lift ear, he only misses a wooden leg and a parrot. Behind this weathered face hides a very caring man, extremely hardworking and a amount always comes out when you don’t expect it. When diner is served on the boat and Olivier just survived a horrible sailing trip, Dieter says to the cook: “you can already put Olivier’s food in the bucket”.
Dieter moved to Switzerland at a very young age where he worked as a cook and a carpenter. His German Grundlichkeit and Swiss craftsmanship brought him in the houses of the richest people on earth, for example one of the palaces of Berlusconi. This craftsmanship is visible in his masterpiece, Jatinga. He got to know the sailing world at a young age and he was attracted by the open sea. Buying a boat was way to expensive, so Dieter started to build his own. Together with his wife Margrit they builded eleven years on their dream. The workmanship is beyond imagination, especially when you know that it is handmade. Once he said “buy a boat and work yourself to death”. In his case, he would have died twice already.
Dieter builded the boat in Basel and brought it all the way to the Netherlands following the Rhine. For years Jatinga was their holiday house for short sailing trips. In the Netherlands Dieter learned many Dutch words and proverbs. On the very first night in the boat he started to recite a poem in perfect pronounced Dutch. And every night when he goes to bed, he says “bedje bedje”. In the mean time they keep on working and save money for their dream, exploring new places, blown by the wind. The cold and stormy weathers in the Northern countries defined their direction. South it goes!
Right now they are sailing around the world. “A man gets old really quick and rusted up on a fixed place without seeing our beautiful earth” Dieter says. That’s why he is sailing, their Entdeckungsreise. They are already five years under way and will sail, if Dieter can decide, many more years. When Dieter tells us that he is 75 we cannot believe it. Day to day he is working on the boat, as if he is in the strongest years of his life. He participated in cross country competitions until the age of 70. His secret? “It is all inside your head”. A lot of people say that they will travel when they are retired. But few are able to follow this dream. The spirit from Dieter and Margrit is an inspiration for everybody who feels too old. You are as old as you think you are!