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From ocean adventurer to change-maker | from Virgin.com

This post was originally posted on Virgin.com

We are now 16 days at sea. Six salty sailors and I are navigating our way from Spain to the Americas on a small sailing sloop.

The lack of wind brings opportunity. After weeks of staring at the big blue we’re going to feel its magic from a different perspective. We put a line out for safety – I step over the railing and jump.

I splash into the 4,000-metre-deep water of the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest shore. The feeling of refreshment and freedom is indescribable. With limited water and space, I have not showered or moved much these past weeks. I feel alive, small and on top of the world at the same time. The water is like tea: so warm. What is beneath me? I put on my mask and dive under. There is nothing to see except the butts of my fellow crew and the colour of deep ocean, blue with beams of light shining through.

Driven by my deep sense of curiosity I sail the ocean, freedive into the deep, kite surf the surface, and explore distant shores. My discoveries on, in and underneath the water have taught me about the challenges it is facing.

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Ocean Nomad

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Ocean Nomad

I’ve sailed the seas in every continent except Antarctica. I have walked on remote beaches on islands hundreds of miles from mainland. I have put on my freedive mermaid fins and explored the bottom of the sea wherever I got the chance. I’ve explored below the surface in Tonga, in the middle of the South Pacific, in the Galapagos, the Mediterranean, South East Asia, East Africa, Australia, and the Caribbean. And everywhere I am confronted by the same man-made problem afflicting the ocean.

In the middle of the Atlantic, far away from civilization, I’ve seen it drifting. Plastic bags, bottles, straws. Once a fellow crew member thought he caught a fish, but it was a plastic bag. Every water sample that I have taken, every 200 miles, contained tiny pieces of plastic, invisible to the naked eye.

I have watched fish eating plastic pieces, mistaking them for food. I’ve been dancing with manta rays in a plastic soup, watching them funnel in wrappers instead of plankton, while I unwrap the bags from my fins.

Occasionally I don’t know where to resurface after a free-dive because above me I see nothing but trash. I’ve met local fishermen, from Tonga to Turkey to Tobago, telling me the catch of the day is less than 10 per cent of what it used to be. In two out of three days exploring the Mediterranean Sea last summer, I did not see a single fish.

 

Ocean Nomad Life, the good and the bad by @oceanpreneur Intro

As a sailor, I am intricately connected to nature. Life at sea provides a deep and lasting respect for nature because you are directly dependent on it. But the real truth is, we are all dependent on our ocean. The ocean is the heart of the planet. It produces more than half of the oxygen we breathe, regulates our climate and is home to magnificent wildlife and the biggest creatures on earth. It gives us food, jobs, life and joy. Without it, we cannot survive. It gives us everything and yet we are taking it out of balance, as if we were the last generation on earth.

Learn more about how to become an ocean adventurer and change-maker from Oceanpreneur – Suzanne van der Veeken

I am responsible for this. And you are too. I have ‘thrown away’ dozens of things in my life. But now I have learned, there is no ‘away.’ Every piece of plastic ever made is still out there in some form. I have been ignorant. But not anymore. My ocean explorations have taught me about the magnitude of the challenges our ocean is facing and how urgently we need to fact them.

Awareness is key but action is mandatory. We are all responsible for depleting life in the ocean and together we have a responsibility to bring it back to life. We owe it to future generations. But what can we do?

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Ocean Nomad

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Ocean Nomad

Adventure has brought me awareness. That’s where it starts. From experience comes awareness. From that, comes caring. From caring comes action and leadership. We can only do good if we know what the problem is in the first place. We are so used to doing things the way we do, that we don’t think about their effect. What impact are you having, right now? Calculate your carbon footprint. Calculate roughly how many toothbrushes, and shampoo bottles you have used in your life! Now think about how you can recycle, re-use, repair and make it circular.

Educate yourself. Ask questions. Be curious. Choose wisely. Our greatest and most exciting individual power is the power of choice. To a large extent we can choose what to eat, drink, wear, believe, say, do, create, and buy. Each choice comes with consequences, good or bad. Do your best with whatever choice you make to make it a good one for you and the ocean. Your choices help you plot new routes.

 

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Ocean Nomad

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Ocean Nomad

Explore, learn and gain new perspectives. Set out on ocean adventures that may be for a greater purpose. Go for a sail, jump in the sea, walk the shore, learn how to dive. Adventure can spark new insights and give you a new set of eyes. It makes us more conscious as consumers. It resets us. It makes us stronger, more confident, resilient. Maybe it makes you a leader. Maybe an ocean leader. You can shape culture, disrupt business and stimulate change. Above all, by making it fun you’ll have the energy to keep going!

Governments and companies respond to the choices and activities of the public. By plotting your course for positive change you can shape what will be on the agenda tomorrow. We’re all in the same boat so we need your hands on deck! I must climb back on board again. The winds of change are picking up. Yes let’s rock this boat! But let’s rock this boat together as a global ocean family.
– This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

This post is part of a series produced by Virgin Unite in partnership with Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action.

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The Ocean Nomad Book Launch Celebration – Out Now!

Ocean Nomad is OUT NOW!

Fiesta time in Lanzarote last week! The launch of book Ocean Nomad: The Complete Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide – Catch a Ride & Contribute to a Healthier Ocean ! A celebration of a milestone I have been working towards for two and a half years. Back then I thought to ‘just’ write down a few tips into a 20-page PDF. Along the way, I figured to really make an impact for the good, and deliver something of true value, I better do it well or not at all. Now, book Ocean Nomad, is a fact, as an e-book but also print! Ocean Nomad is a 400-page guidebook for sailing across the Atlantic as crew, from dream state to execution state in a safe, happy and meaningful matter. With the book, I aim to connect people to the ocean. When people experience the ocean, they’ll be more triggered to care for it too. The very first print edition of Ocean Nomad has been brought into the world last week in Lanzarote.

Launching on a boat

This milestone was something to celebrate. Of course, on a boat! Easy to choose which boat. I teamed up with Marjo & Edwin of Grace for Ocean Conservation. There’s simply no better venue than the almost 100-year-old wooden sailboat, a perfect example that naturally made crafts last, sustainable in style. I invited my parents, friends and other adventurous souls to join the festivities! Super fantastic to finally be able to share the result of the work. We made it one weekend full of FUN!

Book Launch festivities

On Thursday the VIPs (&first print books!) arrived and we started off with a homemade dinner made by Marjo and a big cheers! I handed out the first copy to Mum & Dad, and to Marjo & Edwin, my ocean parents.
Friday morning was show time! Lanzarote Mix radio set up a studio on the boat and for two hours we were live on air. In the afternoon some press stopped by and we decorated Grace and the pontoon to get the party started! Mum had made party flags. Dad helped to create re-usable bamboo straws. Local artisanal beer crafter NOA provided the beers (If you’re in Lanzarote, you must try this healthy yummy local produce at their brewery). VIPs and supersupporters Karlijn, Roline & Lonneke created the tune list and happy vibes. A great mix of family, friends, (aspiring) sailors, boat hitchhikers, local curious and change-makers made the party! The setting allowed for many beautiful ocean connections have been made. Mission accomplished!
Saturday was sailing ‘o clock! It was a long-awaited dream to finally take my parents and friends out sailing and to share a taste of the lifestyle I’ve been living the last years. We sailed down to Puerto Calero. Here we held a movie screening of Vanishing Sail, a movie about the wooden boat craft that still takes place on the beach in the Caribbean. But for how much longer? After living between the boat builders for two months earlier this year, and sailing one of these beautiful Carriacou Sloops across the Caribbean, I’m determined to do what I can to revive this art. The screening triggered some more souls determined to not let this art of wooden boat building die. I’m looking to organize more screenings. Let me know if you have a group, yacht club or community interested!
Together with the big book, I also launched the ‘Ocean Love & Conservation’ part of the book as a seperate Bonus edition on Kindle for a bargain. This bonus part is about Making the Ocean famous again and what we can do as crew to make a difference for a healthier ocean. We have no time to loose when it comes to saving our ocean. The more people learn about what’s happening to the ocean and what actions can be taken, the better.

An ocean of gratitude

Thanks everyone for making this weekend a mega memorable celebration of life, for life!  Super thanks to Mum, Dad, Roline, Karlijn Lonneke, Edwin & Marjo for being present and sharing the unconditional Ocean Nomad love! A special thanks to my early Indiegogo supporters. And thank YOU for buying the book which will help support the next creation.

A special thanks to partners and sponsors

Thank you Marjo, Edwin & Grace for Ocean Conservation for facilitating and being present! Thank you Puerto Calero for the support. Thanks Justin & Alexis of Vanishing Sail to help to make the screening happen. Thank you Lanzarote Mix for having me on your radio show! Gazette Life for the interview (out mid November). Lava Charter for your enthusiastic presence, support and putting up Ocean Nomad in your nautical shop. Thanks Wayne of Greening the Caribbean for helping create awareness about the book and The Bamboo Brush Society for supporting sustainable tooth brushing.

The Ocean Nomad book tour continues

I did another book presentation in Rubicon Marina. Together with Grace for Ocean Conservation we set up a stand at the Rubicon marina mercadillo.  Now I’m in Las Palmas helping the (aspiring) sailors on a safe, happy, and meaningful ride across. Every Thursday this November at 18.00 I’ll be presente in the Sailors Bay to talk about the book and answer questions. More book presentations and events I’ll mention on www.oceannomad.co

It’s just the beginning

I’m superhappy with the success so far! The first colour edition is almost sold out. Book Ocean Nomad 2, the Caribbean edition, is in far stages. I’m creating an Ocean Nomad book series, and an Ocean Nomad community of like-minded Ocean Adventurers and change-makers. The first Ocean Nomad Reviews give me happy tears.
Publishing a book has been as adventurous as sailing across the Atlantic. I’ll write more about the book publishing process soon on this blog (Ps. I’m recruiting. I need more hands on deck)
Thank you to everyone who helped to make this happen: the book launch and the book! An ocean of gratitude to all!

THANK YOU!

               
        

Available here

Ocean Nomad is available for direct download here, as Kindle here, and as Print on Demand (black & white) on Amazon and Bol. I have a few first edition colour copies left which are available at Lava Charter (Lanzarote), in the Sailors Bar in Las Palmas, and in my duffel bag ;). Grab one of the last very first prints here. Christmas colour pre-order will open soon. Simply curious? Download a free sample.
Press contact: ahoy @ oceannomad.co

Hop on board. Here are the Photos!

Photocredits: Edwin Butter, Jose van der Veeken & party crew.

 Share with your friends!

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“Don’t just accept the future, go shape it.” Take-aways from the Our Ocean Youth Summit

The last week I had the privilege to be present at the Our Ocean Youth & Our Ocean conference in Malta. An important gathering by and for the world! Here high-level leaders came together to emphasize on the urgency of improving the health of our ocean. And to make commitments on what each one is going to do to really turn the tide! How was it?

A life-changing experience!

Not only for me, but for everyone living on this planet today! Really amazing to see such a big presence from presidents, ministers, EU, UN, ocean leaders and organisations from all over the world for the common goal of saving the ocean. Countries from all over the world have made big pledges to take the protection of the ocean to the highest level! 700 concrete, measurable and tracked commitments have been made! Since we’re ALL dependent on the ocean! And we have NO time to lose! 

Read all the commitments

here. There’s still hope. We must save what’s left!

Powerful quotes, statements and food for thought from the summit:

“We know now what we could not know as a kid. We’re 8 million minds together! Our collective knowdlegde gathering capacity is a gift. We need to get better at caring and respecting. We really are sea creatures, without the ocean we cannot exist. Our life support system is grounded in the ocean. You may never touch the ocean, but the ocean touches you. We must be mindful of all actions you take. We have the power! We need to get better at caring and respecting. And we own it to the ocean. Don’t ever think it’s too late, until it’s too later.” Sylvia A. Earle of Mission Blue

“Paris & SDG 14 are critical in the survival of our species. We got to spread the word. And make ideas come to live!” – Peter Thomson. UN secretary General’s special Envoy for the Ocean.

“Our main challenge is awareness for collective change. We have to make it exciting and enticing to change behaviour.” – Frans Timmermans

Dr. Nathan Walworth from Covalence Life presented a powerful talk about the importance of the Circular Economy. “Is Climate change our biggest issue? Or is climate change a reflection of our deeper internal and external issues?” Do your habits reflect how you feel about the world?” How can we move toward a regenerative world?” “You are the future mindful culture and lifestyle for the planet: a regenerative lifestyle.” All SOA Youth participants were challenged to pick a topic and present the following day on their circular economy solution.

Oliver Steeds – CEO of Nekton (Deepsea technology and exploration) compared the ocean challenge and solution with a mountain. “Look at the challenge as climbing a mountain. Focus on 1 thing until you reach basecamp number 1. Then move on to the next basecamp.” Step by step we can make sustainable changes and reach for the top!

James Movick from the Pacific Island Forum Fisheries Agency emphasized the importance of equity. Pacific Islanders are on the frontline feeling the effects of changes in the ocean. The islanders are highly dependent on the state of the ocean. But appetite from overseas is catching fish faster than they can rejuvenate. “Who’s equity are you looking after? How do we distribute the resource ecosystem? And how can we build equity felt by those on the ground?” As individuals, question where you fish is coming from. Is it legal?

Brett Jenks – CEO of Rare. “Everything what’s wrong with the world gives us the opportunity to change it, “There are so many reasons to celebrate. Given the evidence, we’re in a good place. But we have work to do!” Understanding how the minds works, is what’s going to change it.”

John Frank – Vice President EU Government affairs of Microsoft, mentioned that true fact that Ocean problems don’t happen in the ocean! He said the future is not inevitable. But each one of is is capable to bring something to the table. “Don’t just accept the future, go shape it,” – John Frank. Powerful!

“You are not apart from nature, you are part from nature!”Celine Cousteau

Choose the best YOU can in every situation! Above all…

“Make ocean action fun and stay healthy so that we can keep going for a long period of time!” Adrian Grenier Lonely Whale Foundation 

A few takeaways from the Our Ocean conference 2017 in Malta:

  • Climate Change is #1 on the agenda! Marine litter climbed high up the ladder for urgency! We must turn the plastic tide: government, business, and individuals!
  • Major announcements for new Marine Protected Areas all over the world! (Currently, only 3.1% of the ocean are protected!)
  • More than six billion euros committed by public and private actors!
  • Sustainable Ocean Alliance announced the SOA Youth Ocean Solutions accelerator! A place for the youngsters to make the innovative ocean ideas happen
  • Keywords! Blue and circular economy, innovation, and urgency!
  • Acknowledgement of the importance of having more young ocean leaders.

It has been so empowering to be amongst others dedicating their lives to saving the ocean. Meet up, team up and taking action! We can’t settle for little improvements. Big changes must be made urgently so the next generations in every layer of our ecosystem can thrive too! We can do this! No one can do this alone, but ALL together we can!

I also really like to emphasize we really have NO time to lose! We don’t see it because we don’t live below the surface (at least most of us humans ;)). But we are all dependent on the ocean! For food, oxygen, jobs, health and happiness. The forests of the seas are dying, the ocean is becoming acid and species are getting lost. Ok. On to the good news -> there is still hope! But we must ALL take collective action. NOW!

What can YOU do? Make conscious decisions in every choice you’re making! What’s the best you can choose? Educate yourself. Ask questions. Be curious! Are you a sailor? Provision carefully.  Are you a traveller? Pack with purpose. And explore the ocean! So you experience it’s magic! And it’s current state… Like, share and support the work of young ocean leaders which will help tremendously to keep us all going!

EXPLORE BE CURIOUS HAVE COURAGE TAKE ACTION MAKE THE DIFFERENCE REGENERATE & CELEBRATE for our ocean

Youth

Thanks everyone but especially all you youngsters (100 attendees from 50 different countries!) for showing up, sharing your energy for our common goal to protect the ocean. A massive shout out to Daniela & team of the Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA Youth) for enabling the younger ocean change makers to attend this event! And to all the new #ourocean friends I’ve made! Here’s a video compiled by SOA Youth and the 100 young ocean leaders taking action for the ocean and why.

My action

Connect people to the ocean! When people can experience the ocean, they will love, understand, care, and act! I aim to help a lot in the awareness and education department by campaigning on social media, blogging, through the book I just wrote, with Ocean Nomad TV, , the build of a green Carriacou sailing sloop, and more ocean experiences in which you can take part! Stay tuned on this blog.

Oceanpreneur mission

I just made the ocean adventure travel guide: OCEAN NOMAD available! I wrote this book with the aim to help more people experience the ocean. From experience comes awareness and excitement. From that, comes caring. Ocean Nomad helps others go on sailing adventures and also includes 60 pages of what’s actually happening to the oceans and what you can do as an individual. 

No budget, no experience, no worries! Ocean Nomad provides the bearings to help the (aspiring) ocean adventurer catch a sailboat ride, safely and meaningfully. The official launch end of this month, of course, on a boat! You’re invited! You can already download the book or just have a free sneak peak. Or if you simply think this is cool but not for you, click here to tweet it to the world.

Now go out there, be curious and explore the ocean!

A few photo’s

Our Ocean conference

SOA Youth Group

The first person I met in Malta and she already made the conference week a success! Thank you Caro for your presence! Caro represents Heirstoouroceans, Mission Blue, and Marine Conservation Institute 

Presenting about Bio Plastic and the Circular economy.

Thank you Daniel from Peru for this photo!

My roomies from Palau, Seattle and Adrien Grenier of the Lonely Whale foundation

SOA Youth Group

When ocean conservationists go to a conference #plasticfree

Ocean Art

Clean Oceans International is making fuel from Plastic

Playing with the Underwater drone of Blue Eye Robotics

With Adrien Grenier of the Lonely Whale Foundation

John Kerry speaking greatly about the urgency of protecting our ocean

Mr. Faure. President of the Seychelles, an island nation on the forefront of ocean changes

Dune Ives from the Lonely Whale Foundation presenting about their #stopsucking plastic straw campaign

Dune and Her Deepness Sylvia Earle talking about the future of our ocean

With the roomies, Miel and Diluna from Palau (Heirs to our oceans) and Helena bringing Ocean & Art to the conference from Seattle

Kristina Gjerde, Law of the High Seas expert.

So honoured to meet my biggest inspiration in real. Her Deepness Sylvia Earle. If someone is creating a legacy for our ocean, it’s her!

With explorer & ocean change-maker Celine Cousteau. She rocked the final keynote at the Our Ocean Youth Summit.

Daniela announcing the SOA Youth Ocean Accelerator

Melati Wijsen rocking the stage speaking about her initiative ByeBye Plastic Bags

Dune from Lonely Whale Foundation talking straws

EU Commisioner Karmenu Vella speaking at the Our Ocean conference

Caro (Heirstoouroceans & Mission Blue) & Heather. Two beautiful endless energetic ocean change-makers (Families in Nature)

Diving in with Olivia from One More Generation and One Less Straw (Pledge here!)

I, and Anna (Oceanographer from Seattle), Daniel (Peruvean Ambassador for the Ocean), Andy – Makes artificial reef structures (Reef Life Restoration) & Olivia – campaigns against the plastic pollution with One Less Straw) All passionate young ocean change makers!

Help raise awareness about this conference, the ocean, and the youth leaders by giving it a like or share. Thanks! If you like to receive updates on ocean adventure travel & conservation splashes, sign up for my once in a while Ocean Splash.