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Tomaž Gržinič, member of the European Working Group of People with Dementia, celebrates his love of sailing

Saturday 09 March 2019

Living with dementia is definitely not easy, but it is bearable. If you are lucky and are surrounded with a loving family and friends, dementia is not a reason to quit your passions. Between 9 and 19 March 2019, I had a life-changing experience: I spent a 10-day holiday on a remote island in Guadeloupe – an island group in the Caribbean.

A crew of 7 best friends celebrated 20 years of friendship and a love of sailing together. We decided to capture this special moment with an epic journey, far away from home. Sailing has been a way of life for me since I was a young man. Every year, my companions and I are off sailing to tropical paradises. Over the past two decades I have visited eight different countries in this way: Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Turkey, The Virgin Islands, Spain, France, and Italy.

As my supporter, Alenka Virant often asks me where I find the courage to travel overseas and I always answer the same way: When you have friends, you feel safe, comfortable and more confident. I am only afraid sometimes that I might get lost in city centre crowd, but my considerate friends are just around the corner. When I bought souvenirs, they waited for me. One of my friend also did me a favour – he put a red hat on his head and led the way.

Sailing with my friends is so relaxing and timeless. We work as a team: One is a chef, one is a captain, one is a fisherman and another is a photographer. Each one of us has a specific task to do. Most of the time I am a right hand man to everyone. We caught two big fish: a tuna and a barracuda, which we prepared for dinner. As you can see in the picture, I had the chance to sail a catamaran - under the supervision of a professional captain, of course. This picture shows that even person with dementia sometimes can do amazing things. You might need support, but you can still do it.

During this sailing vacation, I joked that “a person with dementia can be a captain, as long as there are no other sailboats approaching” and that “sailing a boat is even better than driving a car, because you always go in the right direction and there is no chance you will drive over a cliff.” This trip was undoubtedly a precious experience. We also made a short video about it. So, my take-home message is: “If you have a plan, you should go for it!”