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Fish Responsibly (or not at all)

Fishing can be an exciting part of a long sailing passage, like the Atlantic crossing – but catching is a different story! On my three Atlantic crossings (combined), we caught a total of three fish that made it up to the dinner plate. In the process, we lost about ten lures and eight fishing lines that are all still floating around, ‘ghost fishing’ somewhere in the ocean. Only Neptune knows if a dolphin or sea turtle may have gotten injured, entangled or killed by it. Or maybe the lines got stuck in a boat propeller. Every bit of fishing gear lost will continue to damage in the ocean. It will never disappear.

Many sailors like to fish. It’s a better way to source your fish than buying them in cans, where we often don’t know how and when it’s been caught and mixed. But, do you really need to catch fish? Here’s a few things to consider.

Do you really need to catch fish?

The saying goes: “there’s plenty more fish in the sea.” Well, this saying is outdated! There’s actually not much left. Not so long ago, we thought that the ocean could replenish whatever we take from it. After all, the oceans are huge! Now we know that that is not the case. For fishing to be sustainable, we need to allow enough time for new ones to be born so the population can be maintained. The reverse is happening. We have taken more than the ocean ‘produces’, and we’re taking fish faster than they can reproduce. It’s called overfishing.

Overfishing has wiped out 90% of the ocean’s large top-predators, like sharks, tunas, cod, and groupers. And we need the big fish in the ocean because they eat the weaker ones. They prevent the ‘jenga’ from collapsing. The big fish that are still out there weigh 50% or less than they did 50 years ago. The average weight of a swordfish caught today is 45 Kilos. In the 60’s this was 130 kilos (1). Of all fish species, 52% is fully exploited, 17% is overexploited, and 7% is depleted. Common seafood choices such as tuna, shrimp, and salmon are among the worst affected (2). I don’t want to withhold the good news from you: a whopping 1% of species are recovering from depletion!

Besides impact plastic has on our ocean, wildlife and environment, plastic is a concern to human health. Plastic isn’t just around us, it’s in us! Through food we eat, water we drink, products we use, things we touch, and the air we breathe. Plastic is found in a third of UK-caught fish, including cod, haddock, mackerel and shellfish (3). Shellfish lovers could be eating up to 11,000 plastic fragments in their seafood each year (4).

Me taking water samples during my hitch-sailing trip around the Atlantic. The samples I took seemed like bright, clean ocean water. No plastic to be seen! Adventurers and conservation scientists then tested them for microplastic pieces. They all contained plastic, except for one! The rest of the samples, I took in different locations in the Atlantic Ocean, had more than 11 micro pieces per litre. One of the samples taken between the Canary Islands and Cape Verde had 47 micro pieces! Of all the samples collected during the ARC across the Atlantic, 97.5% of the samples contained microplastic!>

It’s not a question anymore if we are eating plastic from seafood, the question is what it does to the health of animals, the ocean, and us. Plastic in the ocean contains high levels of pollutants such as PCB, Phthalates, organic pesticides like BPA, and heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, and lead. These are proven poisons linked to all sorts of diseases, including cancer, hormone disruption, and infertility issues (5).

The problem is not just the fish we’re taking; the problem is also how we’re taking it. So if you must catch fish, here are a few suggestions to bear in mind to make it a little less harmful.

How (& how not) to fish

  • Fish with the right gear or not at all! Choose the right hook and line thickness. Ocean fish are big guys. A thin line will not hold and will end up at sea as a ghost fishing.
  • Do your research to find out if your catch is a threatened species or not – then either release or eat.
  • Only catch and kill what you can eat.
    • Catch something you can’t eat? Throw it back within seconds, not minutes.
    • Is it too big to eat? Throw it back!
  • Kill the fish right away once you caught it. A handy trick is to spray alcohol in the gills. If you don’t, the fish will suffer tremendously, and all that stress will affect the quality of the flesh. It’s not healthy for the fish, or for you!
  • If you fish near the islands:
    • Check the local situation and rules for species, size, and sustainability.
    • Spearfishing is prohibited almost everywhere in the Caribbean (except for often lionfish, which are an invasive species and need to be reduced for the ecosystem to be in balance).
    • Be aware that many fish in the Caribbean are poisonous.
  • Wherever you are, take it easy on the bigger guys. We need them in the ocean! They eat the weak and sick ones to keep the system in balance. Few are left because it takes so long for them to mature. The higher up in the food chain, the older the animal, the more contaminants have been built up. Tuna, swordfish, shark, cod or sea bass all have dangerous levels of mercury and PCB accumulated in their bodies.
  • By eating some species, you can even help the ecosystem, such as lionfish in the Caribbean. While they were a rare sight just ten years ago, the population is now out of control.

‘Fish’ for seaweed

We have a lot of food to choose from these days with healthier alternatives that still provide the same benefit without killing life. An exciting option I have found is consuming sea algae like kelp, nori, spirulina, dulse, and Sargassum. Hundreds of edible sorts of sea vegetables are known. Seaweeds are real super foods that mostly need sun and current to thrive. These vegetables of the sea are where fish get their omegas from in the first place. It’s a healthier food choice for you and the ocean. And they just float by your boat!

Learn more about the state of the ocean and what we can do to contribute to a healthier ocean in Ocean Nomad.

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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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Vanishing Sail Filmscreening in Lanzarote – Canary Islands

Earlier this year I fell in love. In love with those wooden boats, I encountered on the beach in Carriacou, Grenada. I was determined to go to Windward Carriacou, where the boats are being built, after seeing this movie Vanishing Sails at the Grenada Sailing Week. So I went. I ended up staying two months. Later, I was lucky enough to sail up one of the beauties for the West Indies Regatta in St. Barts where Carriacou sloops are united for a weekend of fun, adventure, and replicating the trading past. Pure Bliss. Vanishing Sail is a story that needs to be shared with the world to make sure these boats with souls won’t vanish. To keep traditional alive. And dreams alive. My dream is to build one. From pure enthusiasm, I’m hosting a film screening in Lanzarote. Come and watch and get excited about the sloops, Carriacou, and the Caribbean. They can all use a little encouragement.

 

Vanishing Sail, award-winning Caribbean feature Doc in Puerto Calero – Lanzarote!

Vanishing Sail has been making waves all over the world at film festivals and special event screenings and now West Indies Boatbuilding Culture comes to Lanzarote when the Puerto Calero Auditorium will resonate with the sound of caulking mallets on a wooden hull taking shape on a beach in Carriacou, the Land of Reefs!

“If this thing gone from here, everything gone you know…” Alwyn Enoe

On the island of Carriacou in the West Indies, the last wooden sailboat builder dreams of saving a great tradition passed down the generations from Scottish settlers that sailed there centuries ago. The film follows Alwyn’s journey over three years, from hauling trees with his sons, to a final traditional launching ceremony. Stories of the old Caribbean – trading by sail and smuggling contraband interweave a tribute to the independent spirit of a small island community.

“A fascinating story of personal perseverance, ribald tales of smuggling at sea and the completion of the beautiful wooden sloop in a race against time to enter the thrilling Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta.” Wooden Boat

“An insightful and poignant documentary that is part social history and part Herzogian portrait of resilience and determination in a far-flung locale.” Indiewire

“A haunting, captivating story that will pull heart-strings and etch in the mind of every viewer.” Classic Boat

“Beautiful…” Derek Walcott

Vanishing Sail is currently available for screening at Special Events, Film Festivals, Boatbuilding Academies, Maritime Heritage Institutions, Yacht Clubs, Fundraisers, Coastal & Caribbean Communities worldwide.

Screening time:  Saturday, October 28, 2017 19:00 PM – 20:30 PM

Attendence is FREE: Indicate attendance here to be sure of a seat (maximum seats)

Trailer & Film Details:  http://www.vanishingsail.com

Trailer:

Vanishing Sail – OFFICIAL TRAILER from Indian Creek Films on Vimeo.

Venue Address:  Auditorium in Puerto Calero

Presenting Partners: Ocean Nomad, S/V Grace of OceanConservation, Puerto Calero Marina,  Boatshed.com & Classic Boat

Call for a Screening Sponsor to make this happen! Learn more. Thank you!

Watch Vanishing Sail

The Screening is part of the Ocean Nomad Book launch festivities. Ocean Nomad is an ocean adventure travel guide on how to catch a sailboat ride & contribute to a healthier ocean.

Sailing across the Strait of Gibraltar – into the Atlantic Ocean

SV Eau Too – October 17, 2016. I’m 8 days at sea now.

I open my eyes and see the reflection of water moving on the ceiling. I sit up (which is a luxury on board!) and look outside. All I see is water. That’s a change of scenery from the starboard stern cabin. I always saw land when I woke up. We have made about a 1000 miles from France now. Is it a new day? I check the time and it’s 17.00. I feel like I’ve just experienced a few days since I was on watch from 21.00 – 00.00, 3.00- 6.00 and 10.00 – 14.00, and there were so many happenings and incidents. All on a few square meters of the island called a sailing boat. With all the naps and watch-keeping shifts, rhythm on a boat is nothing like on land. It may sound tough but it takes a few days and then you’re used to it.

Rewinding 11 hours….

6AM. I text my Tarifa friends with a photo of the chart plotter. 3G is working well. We’re 17 miles away from Gibraltar. With an average speed of 6 knots we’ll be passing the Strait in a few hours. My watch is finished so I crash to sleep. I’m on again at 10.00.

Navigating Strait of Gibraltar

I hear a familiar sound. The sound of the easterly levante wind zoofing around. I hop out of bed, climb into the cockpit and catch the sunrise when I look over to portside(live shakey insta video update). Looking starboard side, I see the rock of Gibraltar. I scan the horizon and there’s dozens of tankers around, most of them not under command,’ and many leisure fishing boats. It’s Sunday and there’s a full moon. Full moon means more fish closer to the surface. It’s awesome to see Gibraltar from a different perspective. Usually I drive past it on the other side when I go to Tarifa to kitesurf and see my friends there.

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I just came off watch 2 hours earlier but I’m too excited to go back to bed. We’re sailing into another continent today AND along Tarifa, which I’ve made basecamp over the last years. I already called my friends to get out there and wave from the land.

We planned to be around here at exactly this time. And we are. Good navigation plan, skip! At 9.19 the tide changes and we want to go with it, since tides can be strong here. With the full moon the tidal differences and current will be strong. Our COG (Course Over Ground) is 5 (degrees). We’re super lucky with the weather. The forecast gives a mild levante. Last time I passed through it , it was everything but mild. Apparently, the whole summer has been hardcore levante, since my kitesurf friends could hardly kite due to the strong winds.

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‘All ships, All ships…’

Someone on the radio broadcasts about a boat with an estimated 9 refugees floating around, if we can all look out for them. The weather is calm today, which is not that common for this zone. We, westerners making our sailing dreams happen, are not the only ones crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. It’s also those that don’t even have a passport risking their lives to be alive. They make the same passage, the other way around, with a different boat, crew and destination. There surely is no ‘guide’ for that crossing! This is a daily event here in the Strait and it breaks my heart. No numbers on refugees exist and only Neptune knows how many get taken by the current…
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Looking out over the Strait of Gibraltar and Morocco, photo taken in Tarifa, Spain

9.30 AM The wind speed meter is slowly going up. We’re having around 9 knots of wind now. With only the headsail up, a little bit of wind and current, we slowly glide towards Tarifa, running a speed of 3.5 knots. I’m on the helm now and zigzagging mainly between leisure Sunday fishing boats. On our port side one tanker after the other is passing by, navigating through the TSS (‘Traffic Separation Scheme’). Hundreds of them pass through each day. On the AIS (Automatic Identification System) we can see where they are going: Nicaragua, Mexico, Recife, Gran Canaria, Rotterdam. Our global sea transport system is fascinating, yet such a polluted element of our society. Not just the fuel but the noise does a lot of damage. Sounds reaches much further underwater than via air. It kills the whales. And here’s more reasons to Go local. 
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11.30 AM We have 12 knots of North East wind and the compass is pointing 83 degrees now. We slowly sail into the strait. From my obsessive kitesurf wind checking and analyzing back in the days, I know that around noon the levante wind usually picks up. I already see the kite surfers playing around at Balneario surf spot next to Las Paloma’s Island, the most southern point of continental Europe. Like last time I crossed the ‘Strait of Gib’ from the other direction, I get on the phone with my friend Vince, who’s walking the dog and waving. We locate a yellow buoy in front of us, indicating a hazard, and we have to pass it south. 16 knots of wind now.
Vincy & Tibu waving to Eau Too from Tarifa. Photo: Insta.Vincy on Instagram

We locate a yellow buoy in front of us indicating a hazard and we have to pass it south. 16 knots of wind now.

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Looking out for Vince!

13.20. With a speed of 7.6 COG we are sailing across the Strait of Gibraltar. It’s a bit quieter with the tankers now. It was super timing to do this passage on a Sunday! There seems to be less boats than usual. Great, because we have to somehow cross one of the busiest Traffic Separation Schemes in the world. The wind picks up and with 20-25 knots we cross the TSS to ‘the other side.’ It’s like we’re going through boiling water. Here is where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. There’s no straight line separating the seas. With a different salinity, different layers mingle and create a wild water lane across the strait. Little Moroccan fishing boats show up. I can’t believe the danger they put themselves in with all these tankers passing by on both sides. Tarifa gets smaller and smaller as the mosque of Tangier becomes bigger on the horizon. With a separation of only 14 km, we have gone from Europe to Africa, sailing the Strait of Gibraltar.
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Tankers, little fishing boats and the Mediterranean mixing with the Atlantic in the Strait of Gibraltar

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Sams Pirate socks

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Ozzie Carly has prepared a Moroccan style cous cous salad to bring in the Moroccan vibes.

14.00 I hand over the helm to the next watch. I take the best seat of the boat, in the corner at the stern. This restless soul finally gets to sit down. I clip my toenails and enjoy the view of Morocco. Sam is putting her pirate socks on the guardrail to dry. George is talking Arabic on the phone. Carly is on ‘mother watch’, preparing foods. Bart is somewhere and Kirstin is asleep. Then I’m off for a snooze. Snooze number 3? 4? of today. I have no idea anymore.
Briefing Strait of Gibraltar

Captain Steve briefs on the journey so far and the next passage to the Canary Islands.

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At 17.00 I wake up. I look outside and all I see is water. We sailed the Strait of Gibraltar and are in the Atlantic Ocean!
The Eau Too Crew

I’m off to the cockpit to check out the Moroccan Coast. We have the Atlantic swell now meaning big long waves and a relatively non-rocky dinner outside. We have dinner and dolphins are stealing the show. We already got spoiled with dolphins on the bow but the show we get now is unbelievable. I have never seen so many dolphins together. There’s hundreds of them, jumping, playing and swimming to our boat! Seriously this has been such an exciting, lively and eventful day! It tastes for more. And there’s so much more to come; it’s just the beginning. Thank you Eau Too for having me part of your crew! I have to close the laptop now because at 21.00 I’m on watch again and I need to take a rest. The exciting day isn’t over yet!

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What a day, what a day!!!

21.00 We have calm seas, the full moon in the sky and with Sam I chat about this memorable day on sailing the Strait of Gibraltar.

In 7 days we sailed from Fréjus, France to Morocco.  Now in the Atlantic! To be continued…

Later THAT day <3

About this Atlantic ocean hitch-sailing adventure

October 9 I hopped on boat ‘Eau Too.’ An 57 foot Black Sea Yacht built in 2007 and refitted by the current owner over the last years. ‘Eau Too’ sets sail for a circumnavigation. We’re seven people on board and have six nationalities present: Lebanon, Poland, France, Australia, UK, and me from Holland. How cool is that? Surely we’re going to have lots of stories to exchange during the ride. I’m joining for the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps longer. Or perhaps another passage or island exploration later at some point. Let’s see. We have an ocean to conquer first! And then I have to finish a book on exactly this.
 Happy to be on board Eau Too
With Eau Too we join the ARC+. The ARC is a sailors’ bucketlist thing and I’m a lucky bastard to join the spectacle. Together with 74 other sail boats we leave the harbour of Las Palmas for the Atlantic ocean, via Cape Verde. We made it to Las Palmas and are now preparing for the big trip. The first passage has been Frejus (France) to Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary islands (Spain). We’ve made 1522 miles in 12 days.
Sailing across the Strait of Gibraltar was a day from this passage I will never forget. In a good way!
Ahoy! xxx Suz

Thoughtful Travel Take-Aways:

Learn more on the refugee situation in the Strait of Gibraltar:

Resources to learn more about noise pollution here: OceanConservation Research, Environment360, and Animal Welfare Institute

Learn more on Global Shipping situation: 3 steps to Greener Shipping and Growth to Globalisation.
Looking to go on a hitch-sailing ocean adventure like this?  Check out: Ocean Nomad – Catch a Sailboat Ride & Contribute to a Healthier Ocean

“This ambitious guide book is the spark that will ignite your sense of adventure and provoke your compassion to creating a better world.” Monique Mills(Captain & Ocean Citizen)

 

The complete hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic Ocean

No boat, no budget and no real sailing experience but a dream to make a big sailing trip!
Does that describe you? Join the club! The complete hitchhikers guide to the Atlantic (Ocean Nomad) will be launched this summer. To get you started: here’s a few waypoints that already help you tackle an Atlantic Ocean Crossing – as Crew.

Read more