Andre Plewik's ultimate lifestyle choice

By Joseph Aldridge

Andre Plewik retired at 54 years-of-age, raised his mainsail and never looked back.

With his wife Krystyna at his side, Andre has lived the life of a wandering sailor for the past 13 years - travelling to Alaska, Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, French Polynesia, Samoa, and Chile.

Docked at the Tauranga Bridge Marina, Andre is waiting for Krystyna to return from Poland - their homeland.

The couple fled from Poland in 1982 during a period of martial law imposed by the Communist government. They emigrated to New Jersey in the United States where Andre was able to resume his career as a chemist and make a new life.

But the ocean was always calling and the Plewiks traded their house for a sailboat as soon as they were able.

That first boat sank on a reef 200 miles from Fiji 10 years ago.

After 20 hours bobbing around on a small lifeboat, the couple were rescued by a boat belonging to the King of Tonga.

The Plewiks ended up in Tauranga where they bought their current boat - Panika - and resumed their travels.

"It was my fault, I overslept," Andre said of the shipwrecking.

"But I have to say I have a great wife, she understands it all. My wife said 'Andre don't worry, buy another one'. Another woman would divorce you and sue for damages, but after years she's still sailing."

Andre will be in Tauranga for a couple of months yet, waiting for his wife to return and the South Pacific cyclone season to fade.

Beyond that, he can't say.

"I'm not used to plans. If you make plans, something can happen but if you make no plans, everything can happen."

If anything, he'll work on the boat - a never-ending project of upkeep. Below decks Andre has a sewing machine to repair ripped sails, a soldering kit to fix broken parts and some basic tools.

Living on the boat has become a lifestyle he could not easily give up, he said.

"I can't imagine living in an apartment. After so many years, it's not easy to sit in one place with a closed door or closed window."

Andre loves the wide-open spaces, the constant movement of the sea and the sense of freedom that comes with living on a boat.

At age 67, he's living the life he could only dream about as a young man in Poland.

"I was always dreaming to sail somewhere but in Poland it was almost impossible during the regime time, so we escaped from Poland and America became a good country for us."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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