November 26th, 2023Deva launch at Royal Yacht Club of Victoria
Words: Donna Kelly
Former Glenlyon resident Jill de Vos has written a cat book. But this is not about any ordinary cat, nor an ordinary life.
Deva the Bengal Boat Cat is about sailing around Europe, being caught in ports through Covid lockdowns, with Deva, originally from Spain, finally ending up an Australian moggy.
Jill left Hepburn Shire in 2017 with her partner Shelley Beer and headed off to France to pick up their twin-engine catamaran the following year.
Jill said Deva was adopted after two years on the ocean, the longest she had ever gone without an animal. “I wanted a cat and usually in Spain or Greece or Turkey there are a million running around the streets. But of course, with Covid and lockdowns, there were none to be found.
“So, the only one I could find was a Bengal from Spain. There was a Burmese in Hungary, but we couldn’t cross the border. But Bengals are, I found after much research, good boat cats and very pretty, so we got Deva.”
Jill, Shelley and Deva, had to leave Spain when that country’s lockdown ended, their time in Schengen having run out and not wanting to pay a huge tax to remain they decided to sail 2200 nautical miles to Turkey, one of the few countries where you can get a resident visa without going back to your home country. Two years later they were still there.
“There were numerous lockdowns and we got all our vaccinations there. In fact, the person who worked on the Pfizer vaccine is from Turkey. We were living in Finike, an agricultural town on the south coast, that is renowned for its citrus – and it is exported all over Europe. Finike’s symbol is the orange of which they are rightly proud. We had a wonderful community at the marina and we have made lifelong friends from around the world.”
Eventually it was time to return to Australia which involved selling the boat to an American couple “for pretty much what we paid for it” and then the complicated and expensive quarantine procedures for Deva, and another puss, Albert the Turkish stray.
Jill said she would head back in a heartbeat despite in the early days at times being “absolutely paralysed with fear” before leaving the marina.
“It is all about planning. The weather is what you watch constantly, occasionally you will be caught out and hopefully you will always have a plan b or c. Friends have offered to have me onboard on passages heading back to Australia and I may even consider joining one. It is difficult settling back into life at home but there could always be another adventure around the corner.”
Deva the Bengal Boat Cat, with illustrations by Mel Corrigan, is being launched at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria at Williamstown on Saturday, December 2 from 11am to 1pm. Tickets are free but reservations are needed via Eventbrite.
A launch will also be held at the Glenlyon General Store on Wednesday, December 6 at 2pm in the courtyard.