It was brutal. Suddenly, something I had never thought about jumped out at me. Again a contest of circumstances? No way! High blood pressure; growing prostate; cardiovascular malfunction; three herniated discs; a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; few teeth to support the prosthesis; sciatica making me limp from time to time… My sixties at that time -of which barely ten contributed to Social Security- no house of my own, no dog to bark at me, nothing saved… What a picture!
No, the accounts did not add up for me in January 2017. The job I will retire in a few months until not long ago lacked regulation and had no official existence. The title of Professional Yachtmaster did not exist in Spain before 2009. In the old days, the yacht skipper -my original qualification- could steer boats of any size without any geographical limitation, whether sailing or motorboats, without even being limited by propulsive power. All this, only and exclusively, as long as they were pleasure boats. But I could not be declared to Social Security. I could not legally charge for my work; I had to do it in black. I don’t think I would have been able to contribute even as a self-employed person, even if I had wanted to. Because where would I have contributed? In Cyprus in 1972? In Panama? In Colombia? In Turkey for less than a month? In Greece? In Italy?… Only in the French Caribbean islands did I contribute to Social Security for a few days of the many months I worked there, alternating the Caribbean seasons with those of the Mediterranean year after year. In Chile…? Yes, in Chile, I thought I had contributed the years I worked for a company selling pleasure boats, taking care of their after-sales technical service. Still, when I recently went to look at the total number of years worked, only a few months had been contributed. The little I worked there in deep-sea fishing was not contributed either… In Spain?
Year after year, they work every season for many years without a formal contract, “in black”, as many people like me still do today, either in the Balearic Islands, on the mainland or in the Canary Islands, no matter where, without contributing to the Social Security. Everywhere the State looks the other way around, the companies ignore the problem, the Unions forget the employees of the yachting industry, and the customers continue to pay the workers in black money. Meanwhile, year after year, in the Europe of the XXI century, dozens, perhaps hundreds of women and men continue to work at sea without the slightest social coverage …
But let’s get back to our business… After that dramatic awakening and after a few months of meditating on the idea and discussing it daily with Muriel, I contacted the advertiser of the Seacracker 33. I saw that boat for sale on the Internet at an exciting price: acquiring that boat for little money could prevent me from being homeless someday… (or a dog barking at me, remember?). Well, I exaggerate, there’s my devoted companion, but Muriel doesn’t even want to hear about boats anymore. She’s had enough, she says. And as Muriel still has a few years of work before retiring, she prefers to project herself into a life near her children, on dry land, in some tedious job, but with decent hours and a floor that doesn’t constantly move under her feet. At the same time, she dreams of a little house of her own in the countryside of Brittany… She puts it down to age, but I know it’s not that. However, I understand her perfectly well, and if I can, I will help her to achieve her dream, of course…!