Sunday, February 05, 2012

Estonian Trivia (and how a simple run to West Marine for classroom materials turned into Major Vacation Plan-O-Rama!)

Map of Estonia, from the Nations Online Project.

Estonian Trivia!

I had a very busy work day on Friday, but I just HAD to say something about the sudden emergence of an Estonian sailing vacation when my boss sent the official OK to my vacation request ('cause without that it wasn't going to happen) that day.

I then had a quite wonderful day checking in on my Facebook wall, where people were posting all sorts of great Estonian trivia all day (mostly true, even).

I'd kicked it all off by saying:
"Did you know that the Estonian coastline has over 1,500 islands and islets?" and followed it up with "And it's right across the way from Finland" and that was about all I had time for.

Retired friend to the rescue!

After asking (1) if I was actually going (I'd posted on Facebook that I was invited, but I wouldn't have mentioned it if it had fallen through, so the answer there was a YES!) and (2) if this was for the Estonian Sunfish National Championship (answer - NO, this is one of those boats you can nap on), Tillerman went after a bunch more trivia for me.

"Did you know that Estonia is the second least religious country in the world, with 75.7% of the population claiming to be irreligious?" (my response - "I may not get TQ to come back" - he's quite irreligious himself)

"Did you know that Estonia is ranked as the most free country in the world on the State of World Liberty Index? (USA is 8th.)" (my response was along the lines of "I may not come back myself" - and before much longer I had somebody calling dibs on subletting my nice little [lily]pad here in Brooklyn so, hmmm...)

"Did you know that the 1980 Olympic Sailing Regatta was held in Estonia?"

My friend Stevie jumped in with: "A favorite pastime of Estonians is to take the "Love Boat" from Helsinki to Stockholm and back, or at least it seemed like it last time I was there."

Now, I'd gotten myself sucked into the Susan G. Koman fracas at one point, and around the same time as he was getting trivia for me Tillerman said something about it being too bad that the very basic services for so many poor and/or uninsured women depend on Planned Parenthood have to be provided by a not-for-profit, not just a basic right - naturally I had to ask how Estonia was on that front and the answer was:

"Estonia has universal lifetime healthcare, funded mainly through taxation and costing (as a % of GDP) about a third of what the US spends on healthcare.

And did you know that upon giving birth, the Estonian government grants one of the parents 100% of their former salary for 18 months. After 1.5 years, the parent has the right to resume her/his former position."

Jeeze. Can't help wondering about who covers the new parent for the 18 months, but wow, that would certainly make having a kid a much less potentially scary thing, wouldn't it?

Tillerman got back to a less serious vein with his next trivia, which also involved sub-trivia:

Trivia: "In Estonia they have something called a 'porkuni' barrel race where two people sit in a large wooden vat and use kayak paddles. We will need to see pictures of you and TQ doing that". Subtrivia: "Did you know that if you do a Google Image Search on "Porkuni Barrel Race" you only get 16 results and none of them are of people paddling in a barrel? Post the right image on your blog, Bonnie, and you could be the #1 website on the planet for people searching for images of the Porkuni Barrel Race!"

And somewhere in there O-Docker (the napper himself) threw in this little gem:

"Sailboat racing was invented in the Gulf of Finland. Boats crossing from Estonia to Helsinki were said to cross the 'Finnish line'."


This all made for some very entertaining breaks during an otherwise crazy-busy Friday - thank you all!

Oh, yes, and I think I promised some actual details.

I was so delighted with O-Docker's first comment on the blog post, "Estonia sailing invitations - aisle four, next to the anchors, right?" that I claimed that yes, that's exactly what happened, but what REALLY happened was that I got there, I quickly collected the items I was there to buy, and then I remembered that I'd wanted to get little floats of some type for manuevering practice and wandered back towards the area I thought they might have kids' toys - just as Captain Kat, one of my friends from the days when I had a part-time job crewing on the Schooner Adirondack, came walking down the same aisle from the other end. So really, O-Docker wasn't too far off, it actually started in Aisle 1, between the lifejackets and the signalling devices! She was browsing around waiting for the salesman to finish working on a transaction involving a gift card and a refund for faulty spotlight. I totally forgot about the toys as we got to talking about who was still working for Classic Harbor, who'd moved away, who was going for their captain's license (yay M!), etc. etc. etc. - and then right at the end, her face lit up and she said "Oh - do you want to go sailing in Estonia?"

She named a time of year that I didn't think was going to be too good for work, so my first response was "Probably not" - but I asked her to go ahead & send me the details so I could at least daydream, knowing that any trip she plans is likely to be wonderful material for that particular past-time. After all, she's the one who arranged that wonderful trip to the BVI's that I went on back in November 2005 - this is just the sort of thing she likes to arrange, she's been doing it for years & she's really, really good at it.

Setting out from Road Harbor aboard the Carina, Nov. 2005 - Captain Kat at the helm - yep, that's the same wheel that's featured in my current profile picture!

That BVI's trip remains one of my favorite vacations of all time (neck and neck with the one I took to Hawaii for my 25th reunion and three that TQ and I have taken - Cape Cod, Washington State and Rhode Island were all spectacular) - so when she sent me the details the next day, and I looked at the specific dates and found that they actually fell within the one teeny window during which I could actually possibly sneak away from work for a week, I started to think that this wasn't one to let slip past. The bare-boat charter is very reasonable; plane fares were slightly gasp-inducing but I was able to get my breathing back under control fairly quickly (looking at some maps of the area helped) and with both bosses agreeing to my vacation request on

It looks like I'm going sailing in Estonia!


JP said...

How cool is that - looking forward to hearing all about it!

bonnie said...

It's actually not for a few months, which is good because I don't think I would have been able to take a week off much before June. It's going to be great to have that to look forward to after budget season & year end close.

O Docker said...

Looks like a great trip, although you may not be swimming off the boat as much as in the BVI.

And you may have to switch from Painkillers to Black Russians.

bonnie said...

I will definitely miss the swimming, but I think TQ will like this more than he would like sailing in the tropics - he's much more of a boater than a swimmer, unlike me (I might never have gotten into any kind of boats if I hadn't ended up living in a place where swimming outdoors can be challenging), and he's also happier in cooler climates.

What's going to be really strange for me is going to be the day length - we'll be there near midsummer. TQ's family actually lived in Belgium for some time when he was young, and he remembers both the long days of summer and the short days of winter quite well. Me? Longest days I've ever experienced were on a couple of short summer visits to the family in Michigan -- this is going to be quite bizarre!

O Docker said...

Should be quite a bit easier to party all night long, though.

bonnie said...

Note to self: Don't sink the dinghy this time...

SailFarLiveFree said...

Estonia...hmmm, sounds exotic. Without the blogosphere, I wouldn't have ever known such a potentially great sailing destination existed.

bonnie said...

I certainly never would have thought of it myself, but the minute it was suggested, I started looking at maps and charts online, and it all started making sense!

Buck said...


Pat said...

West Marine has been expensive for us, even without Estonian sailing vacations on aisle 1.