Esther Leuenberger



“The last day onboard Regina Laska felt very strange to me and I felt a bit lost and confused. My feeling had started in the early morning and lasted for quite some time – even long after I had returned home, actually. It felt to me like a mood disorder, even though I was not aware of it at that time. The time onboard Regina Laska had totally changed my perception of life without me even having noticed it at first. Had I been bewitched? Mia saw me first at that last morning onboard and asked “Esther, why are you looking so sad?!” At that moment, it became clear to me. Yes, I was sad! I was so sad that these five days onboard already had passed and I would be forced to get back to my “normal” life instead of living in the allures of cruising.




“During the five days with Leon I had tasted blood, no doubt! Now it stood clear to me that a “Sabbatical at Sea” had become unavoidable for me. Inspired by Leon’s book with the same name I wanted to sail off for a year as well! I had so many questions and got overwhelmed by the interesting and constructive answers Leon could give. Everything seemed so feasible, so doable, when talking to him about type of boat, the victualling&provisioning, how to cook onboard, how to integrate children in the everyday life of cruising, tips and tricks regarding the equipment and so on. During these five days I got more inspiration and more answers than I would ever have gained by reading loads of books or trying out things myself!




“No wonder it was not easy for me to leave Regina Laska and the wonderful week behind me! But, at least, I have a new goal now! I really want to do a sabbatical at sea, for sure! I changed onboard and will never be able to go back, I fear. So, please be warned: It’s like many others have testified before: Sailing with Leon may change your life as it did to me!




“Back home I explained it all to my husband, full of eager and enthusiasm. And, you know what he said? My dear Michel said: “Oh, Esther, I’m not really sure if we should….”


“Oh man!!!!! Can you believe this??? Wasn’t he the one who sent me to this Leg with Leon in first place, so I would taste blood? Wasn’t he the one who always talked about “sailing away into the sunset?” and so on? Wasn’t it him, my dear husband, who dreamt about a Sabbatical at Sea? And now he says he is not sure any longer? What had happened? Had he changed or have I? Hmmm, I start to believe that us women are more consistent than men…!


“My husband had already obtained his sailing certificate since three years back and is now chasing miles in order to eventually be able to take the ocean certificate (“Hochseeschein” in Swiss). Together, we used to sail on the Bodensee (Lake Constance) with the family with a borrowed sailing boat. Thanks to Michel’s instructions, we could manage the boat all right. But eventually, it became too basic for me. I wanted to learn more about sailing, navigating, safety onboard etc. I didn’t want to do it in classroom – I wanted to “learning by doing” and practice hands-on cruising, instructed by an experience ocean sailor. And I thought I didn’t want to do this together with my husband, since I feel we have too little time to do this together. That’s when Michel suggested: “Why don’t you go sailing with Leon, then?!” What a great idea this was by my husband and I am ever so thankful for his suggestion!


“I had the following expectations on the sailing leg onboard Regina Laska:

  • Learning to sailing as a competent crew
  • Getting a feel for sailing as an art (sail trimming, healing – unfortunately, we had no big waves to train in)
  • Understanding how life on board would become over a longer period of time, such a year or more
  • Challenging navigation (on the Bodensee there is not much navigation…)


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“To sum up, I experienced the following “highlights” during the sail training leg:

  • Morning swims and showering on aft deck
  • Sauna onboard and diving into the cold sea thereafter
  • The beautiful landscape of Sweden
  • The lifestyle onboard, just being able to be like I am and enjoying the day as it comes together with other wonderful likeminded women
  • Tacking, tacking and tacking, sailing in between the thousands of islands in the archipelago
  • Receiving many, many tips regarding provisioning, technical issues, lifestyle and everything about sailing and sail trimming



“Unfortunately, I had the feeling that I still did not have the chance to navigate enough. And that’s why I immediately booked another Leg with Leon and I am now really looking forward to sailing on Leg 15-2016 again on Regina Laska!




“What I really want to do next is:

  • Read the last chapter in Leon’s book again (Leon read it out lout while us ladies were washing up and were dreaming ourselves away into the tropics…). N.B. The last chapter is about getting rid of possession, living a simple life and the difficulty in understanding why you need all this “stuff” after a sabbatical at sea….
  • Planning for home schooling for our children. The sabbatical year will be a great inspiring school-of-life for the children, where they will experience why they should learn things in school! Luckily, there is so much support for homeschooling around!
  • Working out easy to cook and tasty meals onboard, like the ones we got from Leon


“Finally, I have made a list of all things I need to do before the sabbatical. The good news is that it, for once, actually is not a very long list – and very doable! As long there hadn’t been this little word “if…”. The most difficult part is to convince the inner resistance everyone of us has! I really hope we can overcome this because I really want to go!


“I am so much looking forward to my next leg with Leon and a new women-only crew. I really liked the women only sail training leg, since there was no competition and just co-operation in between us, and all went so nicely hand-in-hand.




“Likewise, I am also looking forward to our big family adventure, which has already taken off less than a month after I left Regina Laska on that bespoke last day onboard. And you know what?! On my way home from Stockholm I already purchased the first piece of equipment for our future boat we want to buy: a wooden butter knife with a kitchen towel – a symbol and a motivation for the next three years to come!”


Esther Leuenberger, sailing the all women leg 15-2015 in the Stockholm archipelago


Please also read the comment from Michel, the husband, here.