A popular seaside resort with 4 km of white sandy beaches, friendly village life, a place to simply relax and unwind, a birdwatchers paradise as well as being THE Whale Nursery of Southern Africa – who wouldn’t want to retire to such a place.
Witsand, situated at the mouth of the Breede River is a tranquil coastal town. Why did Rolf and Jane Boessow decide to leave the hustle and bustle of Cape Town to retire to this area rich in its historical past and hugely conscious of its natural heritage and eco-sensitive surroundings.
Rolf and Jane had been visiting Witsand for years and then bought a little 100 year old fisherman’s cottage in the old part of Witsand. This was their holiday home. They loved it in Witsand – quiet, no taxis, no crime and when they first arrived – no electricity. An ideal location with pristine beaches and unique fishing spots.
Jane was not very happy in her job in Cape Town. She had been the victim of bank card fraud and then a mugging. When an estate agent in Witsand approached them with an offer to take over a café, gift shop and a restaurant, she decided that the right time had come to relocate.
Jane moved to Witsand in September 1999 and transformed the premises into a functioning eatery that met all the health regulations. She also roofed the stoep for added seating and wind protection. It was a difficult time for Jane, as Rolf was in Cape Town. Getting the conversion done without a good knowledge of the work force and suppliers was taxing. There were many challenges, but Jane made the decision to put her head down and go for it.
Rolf was finally able to join Jane in June 2000 after having been retrenched from his job in Cape Town. Together, they built the business up from a small daytime cafe to a busy, successful and fully licensed restaurant that was open 7 days a week in season serving breakfast, lunch and supper. They worked extremely hard, but had great fun meeting interesting people from all over the world who came to see the whales. Witsand has the largest population of Southern Right Whales during the winter mating and birthing months and they come in very close to the shore. At the peak there are more than 100 of these 58-ton gentle giants in the bay. Luckily the whales come visiting during the quieter winter months when they had more time to talk to the tourists about the area and the whales.
After ten years, they sold the business, and believe that retirement challenges are even harder than their original ones. Their new life is very different – Rolf has done a course in Forex Trading and Jane is growing orchids and vegetables and bottling jams, marmalade and sauces. She has started to write a cookery/general hints and tips book, which is peppered with antidotes of living and running a business in a small seaside village. They are busy contemplating whether or not to move closer to their family in Cape Town, especially as their social circle is shrinking.
Jane admits that retrospectively, it was very scary making such a major move and taking on a new business at their age. However, all the challenges, new frontiers and nerve-wracking situations added to the spice, excitement and energy which made this achievement possible. Jane’s message to other wannabe retirees – tackle those new frontiers and challenges head on. It’s never too late to pursue what you love. Baby boomers have always been rebels – why stop now?