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Arno, and his wife Irene, both South African born, have been in the hospitality business for more than 20 years. Arno virtually grew up on sail boats. He started sailing as a middle school boy with his best friend in Gordon’s Bay, a small harbor village near Cape Town. He has sailed many regattas both in South Africa (SA) and in Miami. In 1991 he was the safety officer at Gordon Bay Yacht Club (GBYC) and was involved with the junior sailing club where he instructed youth sailing and held interclub regattas.

Arno attained his Coastal Skippers Ticket with CASA (Cruising association of South Africa) in 1998. He represented his club in the Lipton Cup held in False Bay in 1997. He sailed the Double Cape race every year which is a multiple starting point race in this area. He sailed the annual Table Bay regatta (previously called Rothmans week regatta) on a Hobie 33 from 1994 to 1998.

Arno bought his first sail boat, called “Opskud”, a 31’ Muira, 20 years ago. In 1998 Arno bought a bigger sail boat, this time a Monte Carlo 43’ and started planning the family’s world cruise for March 1999.

The family left SA equipped with food for 8 months, enough books to read and a home school program for their school children. The entire trip went very well, with perfect winds and temperatures. The two longest stretches were to and from St Helena Island (in the middle of the Atlantic), which took around 12 to 14 days each way. Having crossed the Atlantic, they went to places like Fernando de Norona, Kuru, Brazil, Devils Island, Trinidad, Tobago, Margarita, Chichirivichi, Venezuela and surrounding islands. Other places on route to the USA were Porte La Cruz, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas.

Towards the middle of December 1999, the family arrived at Lighthouse Point near Ft Lauderdale and Miami. As the year 2000 progressed, the von Waltslebens enjoyed and appreciated the USA more and more, and decided to do what had to be done: they made plans to relocate to the USA. This big venture required for them to return to SA in order to get all the visa requirements in place, and finally in October 2005 their visa had been approved.

Two months later they arrived in the USA, this time by plane. The departure was not easy: they left their then 21-year-old daughter behind, to further her studies and internship. She made a decision not to relocate with the rest of the family to the USA. Their visa requirement was to own a business, and Primi Urban Cafe was opened in 2006, the food industry being what they know best.

Arno had undergone intensive training in Italian cuisine in Cape Town, South Africa for his restaurant in Pretoria (also Italian) and could therefore use his knowledge and expertise with ease at Primi in St Petersburg.

Once they settled in St Petersburg, they bought a Catalina 25’ sail boat which Arno restored to pristine condition. They sailed “Heidi” (named after their daughter) in the Tampa Bay area for two years before they sold her and bought a 39’ Columbia Hughes sail boat. Now they would become more involved in sailing, the reason they relocated!

Other than a Delivery Captain, Arno is also Instructor certified for Basic Keelboat Sailing (101), Basic Coastal Cruising (103), Bareboat Chartering (104), Coastal Navigation (105), and Cruising Catamaran (114). He also holds a U.S. Coast Guard O.U.P.V. license, NAUI Open Water Scuba Diving certification, and American Red Cross First Aid and CPR certifications.

Arno and Irene are “people people”. They love people; they love sailing; and they love good food!

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