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Citizen science for sailors | How/Where can you contribute?

There is so much we don’t know yet about the ocean. Especially outside coastal zones, it’s logistically and economically challenging to collect data for research. As sailors, we are already out there, and we can reach places far away from civilisation. We are the eyes of the ocean. Why not make your wildlife sightings part of something bigger? Our observations on location can be extremely valuable to gain better insights on what’s going on with the ocean and its wildlife. The more we know, the better solutions we can create.

Here are a few citizen science initiatives that welcome your contributions and sightings from the ocean. Be sure to check these out beforehand, so you know what data is welcome.

Spot wildlife and plants

Whales

If you see a whale on your travels, remember that whale tails serve as unique identifiers for each whale, like fingerprints. Snap a photo and submit them, along with sighting coordinates to:

Be careful! If a whale is close to your boat, slow down to avoid a collision.

Birding Aboard

A citizen-science project organised by a group of long-distance birding sailors from around the world. Join the bird count and contribute information about bird migrations. Simply take a photo of a bird and write down the location coordinates. The data goes to eBird, a worldwide resource for scientists and conservation groups. Learn more at BirdingAboard.org.

Phytoplankton

Contribute to the seafarer study of phytoplankton. Plankton is particularly sensitive to changes in sea surface temperature. You can help to get more insight into the plankton changes by making a simple piece of scientific equipment called a ‘Secchi Disk’ and getting the Secchi app. Learn more at SecchiDisk.org.

Seaweed

There has been a massive increase of sargassum (a type of large brown seaweed) in 2015 and 2016, especially in the Caribbean. During my first crossing in 2015, we had massive parades of seaweed next to our boat, for almost the full route. It impacts shorelines, marine life, waterways and tourism. Trinidad and Tobago even declared this abundance of sargassum a natural disaster! You can help to add to the data set. Report your observations at sea, in harbours or on the beach through photos, dates and location data to the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. Try some for dinner! Sargassum is edible (in soup or stews, or raw when dried), and a high nutrition-dense source of omegas. Learn more at gcrl.usm.edu/sargassum/.

Note: Check these citizen science projects out before you go sailing to find out more about the data collection methods. Even if you forget those details at the time, collect as much data as you can on the spot. Think of: latitude/longitude, date/time, wind speed, wind direction, sea and air temperature. Take a photo or video if possible, and add any descriptive observations you can make during a sighting.

Report plastic

What plastics do you see in the middle of the ocean? Report marine debris on the Marine Debris Tracker App or Clean Swell App. Learn more at marinedebris.engr.uga.edu. and OceanConservancy.org

Take water samples

You can help Adventure Scientists to study the sources, composition and distribution of microplastics pollution by taking samples of Atlantic ocean water. Learn more at AdventureScience.org.

Set up a measurement station

Team up with the SeaKeepers Society by becoming a Discovery Yacht and launching their Drifter or Argo Float instruments in the ocean! These devices collect temperature and salinity profiles up to 2000 metres deep. Learn more at SeaKeepers.org.

Report illegal fishing

Despite regulations, quotas, restricted and prohibited areas for fishing vessels, no enforcement eyes are out there. There is lots of illegal fishing going on, with ships simply turning off the (required to be on) AIS system. If you see a fishing vessel and you think it’s suspicious act! If for example, it meets up with another boat, or if it’s in a Marine Protected Area, you can track the navigational history of the vessel through Global Fishing Watch. Global Fishing Watch tracks and traces fishing boats based on their AIS. If it doesn’t seem right, report it. Sign up and learn more at GlobalFishingWatch.org.

Which other Citizen Science projects are you aware of we can contribute to as sailors?

“Our actions over the next ten years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years.” – Sylvia Earle

The above is an excerpt from the book Ocean Nomad: Catch a Sailboat Ride & Contribute to a Healthier Ocean. Learn more about sailing as a means of travel and contributing to the ocean in Ocean Nomad.



At the end, it’s purpose behind all it that make it worthwhile. Enjoy the journey. And come and say hi in the Ocean Nomads tribe : the global support network for impact driven ocean adventurers.

 

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What can you do? The 7 R’s: Rethink-Refuse-Reduce-Re-choose-Repair-Reuse-Recycle

Rethink—Refuse—Reduce—Re-choose—Repair-Reuse-Recycle

Rethink

“We are living in an interminable succession of absurdities imposed by the myopic logic

of short-term thinking.” — Jacques Yves Cousteau

People often say ‘you are what you eat.’ I can certainly resonate with that. But it’s not just that. You are also what you buy, use, put, wrap, and present yourself with. Making a difference and living sustainably is not just about having solar panels on the boat or roof (although that is a great investment to reduce reliance on fossil fuel!). Responsible living is about how you think, buy, plan and prepare, and where. Whether you go around the world or to the market around the corner, thinking ahead helps. Start questioning where things come from, how it has been made, and by who? Where do things go after we throw it ‘away’? By making a shift in our thinking, and putting our inspector hat on, we can better engineer our lives to reduce our environmental impact. The most fun and effective way to make a change is by finding out yourself. Sailing will give you that pause, to think, reflect, and plan for the way forward. Here is some food for thought.

Rethink shopping

Do you need to go shopping? If so, do you need to buy new clothes, gadgets and gear? Take over second-hand, borrow from the neighbour, save resources and things from the trash pile. Buying a new ‘eco’ car is often not more environmentally friendly than using one that already has been produced.

Who do you give your money to? Do you help Mr. Supermarket CEO finance his second boat or are you bringing benefits directly to a family by shopping locally? Help to shorten the supply chain, which reduces transportation energy cost, use of packaging, and increases nutritional value, and benefits for those down at the bottom. Support the small entrepreneurs and go against mass consumerism. We live in a demand-driven society. Help the good brands, those without lobbying power and big advertisement budgets, to climb the ladder. Support the local coconut art and straw hats in the Caribbean. This is art that doesn’t harm the environment. As opposed to jewelry made from turtles, corals or sharks. 

Rethink food

“We live on a planet where pigs eat more fish than sharks and where the domestic house cat eats more fish than all of the seal in the North Atlantic Ocean.”

— Captain Paul Watson

Where does your food come from? Do you know its source? The source is not the supermarket. It’s the soil and the water that determines the quality of the food. Rethink food recommendations. Who sponsors the food advice you’re reading? Is there maybe a financial gain involved? Do you know what’s in your processed food? Would your grandma say it’s food? Consider and explore alternatives for the sake of your own and the planet’s health.

Rethink waste

How much waste do you generate each week? What is it? Food, packaging, paper? How much of that could you refuse, reduce, reuse or recycle? We all still use plastic bags, but not because we want them. We know it’s not the way to go by now. We simply forget to bring reusable bags in the first place. Before you purchase something packaged in plastic, consider if you need it. If there’s a different option, choose the one where you can reuse the packaging and don’t have to toss it away. For example, take a toothbrush. With let’s say eight toothbrushes per year, in a life of 30 years brushing my teeth I have thrown ‘away’ 240 toothbrushes (as well as the plastic wrappers they are packed in)! And that’s just me! I can circle an ocean-worthy boat with that! Be creative and inventive. See what you can reuse, borrow, swap, buy second-hand or make yourself. Every piece of plastic ever made is still out there in some form. If you throw plastic away, there is no ‘away.’ We all have a desire for convenience. We organise a BBQ and can just throw the dishes away. It may save a few minutes of your time. But the effects of it cost us greatly. We do take-away but what do we do with the (often styrofoam) box it’s delivered in? We order online and have another plastic taped box. We opt for one-time usage products like tampons, diapers, straws, bags and bottles because it’s convenient, or the advertisement has made us believe it’s convenient. We don’t even know what’s the alternative because we accept things as they come. Our system makes it difficult to make sustainable choices because money drives our society. Think about the journey things make before it arrives into your hands. What choices can you make to reduce the number and impact of those journeys? Not only plastic items make their impact. Glass, metals, wood, coal are also resources used to produce things. What can you do to reduce energy demands?

just wash the spoon

Credits: Adbusters

Another big waste is food. In the western world, an estimated one-third of the food we buy, we throw away. What a waste. How can we plan smarter than that? Here’s something fun to try: Aim to continue seeing the bottom of the garbage bin (put the organics separately if you don’t do so yet). How long can you manage?

Toogoodtogo is a cool app where you can pick up food at the end of the day before they throw it away.

Rethink the past

Before the 1960s the world was doing fine without plastics. There simply was no such thing as a plastic bag, diaper or shoe. Since then, it has found its way into every corner of our society. We have to think about alternatives that work. And support those accordingly. Think, what would your grandmother do?

Rethink advertising

‘Eco,’ ‘sustainable’, ‘organic’ or ‘green’ have become fashion words. In most countries, anyone can put that on there, and it can legitimately be sold. Question advertising messages. These messages are created for the purpose of selling, not saving the planet. Certifications are a step in the right direction but don’t just take certified products for granted either. When a brand is a certified B-Corporation, it’s using business as a force for social, environmental, and economic good, which is a positive step forward. Nevertheless, read labels, read stories, and ask questions. Advertisers are smart, and they know how to find you at the right spot.

Rethink the investment

Sometimes organic is more expensive. Realise that it’s only expensive in the short term. In the long run, it will be healthier for you, our children, and the planet because the soil is preserved and not damaged with harmful pesticides, herbicides and insecticides for the sake of volume and price. As much as you and I may live on a budget, cheaper is not always better. By supporting organic producers, we keep them in business, enabling them to bring more purity to the consumer and keep our soils healthy for the future. Also fun, invest in some seeds and basic materials and start growing food and making cosmetics yourself!

Rethink on what matters

For whom are you doing what you’re doing? And why? What are the consequences of what you eat/drink/buy/do/plan for/work for, for the next ten minutes, ten months, ten years and 100 years? What impact do those actions make on yourself, our children, and the world as a whole? Instead of spending money, time and effort in keeping consumerism going, what can you do at the core? Work harder to earn more money so that you can buy organic (which unfortunately is often more expensive)? Or instead, use your time creating solutions and advocate to ban harmful practices, subsidize organic farmers to make it less expensive? Money, fun and ‘owning’ stuff are all temporary. Our impact will last beyond our lifetimes, so we better make it a good one!

“The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them. — Albert Einstein

Thoughts become actions. What can you do?

Refuse

An easy action we can take is to refuse single-use plastic. This is plastic that is used one time only. The most troublesome part of the plastic challenge is the magnitude of plastics we only use for a few minutes to eat, carry stuff, and take away. These single-use items have an average life span of 15 minutes and then are thrown ‘away.’ Only there is no such thing as ‘away.’ Where’s away? Eventually the ocean. 50% of the plastic problem in the ocean is disposable plastic like plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway containers, cups and straws. This is a relatively easy problem to tackle. We don’t need single-use plastic. Pro-actively say NO. With your drink order, ask for no straw. Show up with your reusable straw. Refuse to accept a plastic or paper cup at the coffee machine or water cooler. With your shopping, say no to the plastic bag. Stay, don’t take away; have your coffee or lunch on the spot. You can save a plastic item and have a nice chat! Refusal is easier in some countries than others—especially in developing countries you need to be equipped to be able to refuse. Be prepared and bring your reusable items.

Refuse to buy cosmetics with plastic ingredients. Common ingredients are polyethene and polypropylene, polyethene terephthalate (PET), polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), and nylon (PA)—and dozens more complicated plastic names are out there. These words are impossible to remember. Thankfully there is a great app to help. Use “Beat the Microbead”, to check if your mascara, shower gel, toothpaste or sunscreen use plastic ingredients. Learn more at BeattheMicrobead.com.

Refuse to accept that ‘it’s just the way it is’—it may used to be. Now we know more, have developed more, it doesn’t have to be.

Refuse to eat fish that are overexploited or endangered and explain why to the vendor or restaurant owner. Shark, whale, and bluefin tuna are still commonly found on the menu. 

Re-choose

Our greatest and most exciting individual power: the power of choice! To a large degree, we can choose what to eat, drink, wear, believe, say, do, create, and buy. We can choose with whom to play, talk, sail, date, marry. Each choice comes with its consequences, good or bad. With an abundance of options in everything these days it’s sometimes hard to choose, isn’t it? Do your best with whatever choice you make it’s a good one for you and the ocean! Not sure what the best option is? Explore, discover, learn, and then choose.

Repair

Fix things. Develop your handyman skills and try to fix whatever it is that broke. Or if it’s out of your league look for a handy man near you. Join the fixing process so next time you can do it yourself. Lots of spare parts available on the second-hand market places.

Reduce

To be 100% is super tough (for now!), but we can drastically reduce our usage. A few ideas to get you started:

Reduce plastic use

Choose products made from natural fibres and materials. Immense amounts of crude oil and chemicals are used to produce plastic, polyester, nylon and other synthetic materials for your backpack, clothes, and technical gadgets. Not to mention the amount of waste generated. . . . All sorts of plastics with complicated names exist: polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (bottles are made from this), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (the garden hose, vinyl plates, pipes and fake ‘leather’ shoes are made from this), polystyrene (Tupperware is made from this), polymethyl methacrylate (windows are made from this), nylon (our clothes), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE/Teflon—the famous non-sticky pans)—they are all plastic!

Place a filter in your washing machine. Did you know that with every wash of a synthetic cloth item, thousands of fibres end up in our waterways? I’m not even talking about the chemical colouring techniques (and labour efforts) used to produce our clothing. Synthetic (read: plastic) fibres act as a sponge for metals and chemicals. Fish see this as plankton, and the toxin-loaded fibre stays in the fish for months. Alternatives can include (organic!) cotton, hemp, bamboo, or eucalyptus. Learn more about this challenge on Life-Mermaids.eu.

Particularly in the cosmetics department, we can reduce a lot on plastic waste. Almost all toiletries, like shampoo, toothpaste, or sunscreen, come in plastic packaging and are thrown ‘away’ once finished. Save yourself and the ocean from toxins and plastic pollution. Buy natural shampoo in bulk bottles, get a block of soap instead of the liquid stuff. Or even better, make your own toothpaste, shampoo, moisturiser, facial cleaner or mosquito spray. Choose a hairbrush, hair ties, toothbrush and razor all made from other materials than plastic.

Bring your own toothpicks. In many restaurants, toothpicks are individually wrapped in plastic. Be prepared and bring your own. Pine needles work great too:)

Source food from places that use less packaging, like the local market or even better, grow your own.

Filter water (with a filter on your tap or with a reusable water bottle)

Bring your own bag, spoon, cup, and bottle, and keep saying no!

If you order online, kindly request the sender to use as little packaging as possible, and without plastic tape. Demand minimal or better no packaging in general wherever you go. Buy from sellers located close to you to avoid a package going from a plane to a ship, to a ferry, to a truck, around the world.

Reduce resources use

Cut down on power. Reduce your own carbon footprint by sourcing locally. Walk, bike, hike, share rides, take public transport, turn off the lights when not in use, switch to more efficient light bulbs, reduce airplane trips, reduce meat and fish intake, and waste less food. And hitch-sail the Atlantic Ocean where you must be very conservative with the resources you have on board. After this journey, you’ll treat every drop of water like gold.

Reduce the amount of paper you consume. Read online newspapers, brochures, blogs, e-books. Say no to the receipt at the ATM. Do you need a receipt for everything you buy? The paper is often bleached, and the ink is plastic. Paper often ends up with organics further polluting the soil. Save a tree so more carbon can be absorbed; keep it digital.

A significant impact we can make is to reduce the number of babies we’re making. Researchers calculated a reduction of 58 tons of CO2 for each year of a parent’s life, as compared to 2.4 tons by living car free, 0.21 through recycling, and 1.60 for a roundtrip Atlantic flight. This study is based on people living in the Western world, consuming as an average westerner.

Reduce buying new things. Our resources are finite.

Simplicity

Reduce the chemicals

Cleaning products, cosmetic products and plastic products are often loaded with toxins, harmful for the ocean, and yourself. Why use them?

Sunscreen

The average sunscreen has lots of chemicals affecting corals, fish, and your own health. Some tourism destinations (for example Bonito in Brazil, and Palau in the Pacific) even prohibit sunscreen to protect nature since this product has already negatively affected the natural state of the destination. It’s that destructive! Using biodegradable sunscreen is not only better for the environment, but it’s also much better for you. Ingredients that are found to be biggest hormone disruptors are oxybenzone and octinoxate, and homosalate, octisalate, and octocrylene). So, what to do? Do everything else right before applying sunscreen in the first place. Protect yourself from the sun with a cap, and clothing. Use sunscreen only when you have to. More and more biodegradable sunscreens are available on the market. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are working ingredients that are more ocean and human-friendly alternative. Finding one that does not come in plastic is the biggest challenge! Or just make your own.

Shampoo, soaps, and lotions

How many words do you see on the back of your shampoo that you can’t even pronounce? Google them and educate yourself. All the fragrances, chemicals and other stuff the big corporations put into our shampoo, shower gel, makeup, and mosquito spray may smell great but are loaded with harmful toxins that end up in our waterways and bodies. We often assume that if it’s on the shelves or if it says ‘natural’, it should be okay, right? It’s not. The cosmetic industry is shockingly little regulated. Luckily there are many real natural cosmetics out there. They are only not penetrated into the big supply chains. You could get a block of soap instead of the liquid stuff. Or even better, make your own toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, facial cleaner or mosquito spray.

Cleaning products

What about aggressive cleaning products? They work so well! Aside from the residue that stays on the floor where you walk or on the galley counter where you put your food, we just wash it down. Where does it go then? The ocean! With a combination of vinegar, baking soda and cold pressed plant oils, we can clean almost anything!

Outdoor gear

Many outdoor brands produce clothing with PFCs, a highly toxic chemical which has now been found in the highest snow peaks, waterways and ocean. Check detox-outdoor.org to learn how green or pollutive your favourite outdoor brand is.

Reduce the trash pile

Our world is filling up with trash at an exponential rate. I can’t even be sure if that water bottle floating around the ocean wasn’t formerly used by me! Either way, the planet is everyones. Everyone should take care. Reduce plastic in the ocean by helping clean up. The ocean is downhill from everything. Wind and water ways bring it in. If you see it on the ground, take the opportunity to pick it up, preventing it from ending up in the oceans.

A few initiatives to make cleaning up more fun, easy and impactful:

  • Take3forthesea. Collect three trash pieces every day you go out and play. Tim Silverwood sailed through the great Pacific garbage patch and realised something had to be done! He founded #Take3fortheSea with a simple message: take three pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway, or . . . anywhere. If you do this every day, you can save thousands of pieces of trash from ending up at sea. Simple but impactful. Imagine what we can accomplish if everyone does this. Learn more at Take3.org.
  • Join a beach clean-up or organise one! Check #CleanSwell on social media for inspiration.
  • Document what and where you find.
  • Become a Trash Hero (TrashHero.org)
  • Order your ‘Trash Hunter Kit’ and help to identify where it comes from in the first place. Who are the producers and who are the polluters? Learn more at TrashHunters.org.
  • Join the Ocean Nomads crew. Lot’s of initiatives already going and more to come!

Reuse

As we have already learned, the problem with plastic waste is that it doesn’t go away. Before you toss something away at all, perhaps the item can serve another purpose?

Packaging is a big waster. Reuse packaging when you can. Reuse the peanut box, pill jar, spice pots, or zip-lock cereal bags to store other items. Old pill jars are especially useful when travelling. Reuse plastic bags as garbage bags.

To be able to refuse plastic, you should be equipped with something you can reuse. We can all make a huge difference by being prepared with reusables. Going to a friend’s BBQ party where ‘throw away’ is usually the norm’? Bring your own cutlery, plate, cup and straw. You will surely make an entrance, and it’s a great conversation starter. Make it a habit of bringing your reusables items wherever you go. By being well-prepared, you can avoid ‘having’ to accept hundreds of plastic items. Hit the road with a spoon, fork, knife (or spork), straw, bag, cup, a storage container for takeaway, refillable bottle and filtered bottle.

Reusable lifesavers

Bottles

Access to drinkable tap water might be normal at home, but in many countries buying plastic bottled water has become the norm. It already makes a great difference to have a reusable drinking bottle with you all the time. At home, at your office, and especially during your travels. If you don’t like the taste of tap water, put a filter on it. This might be the best investment for your health too. In addition to a refillable bottle, a filter- jug, -bottle or -straw can be a lifesaver. Especially on boats on during travels where portable refill options are rare. With a filtered water bottle, I can scoop water from the dirtiest river and drink it. I can drink water from any tap or source (except for salty water). Using a filter bottle has saved me from adding hundreds of plastic bottles to the trash pile, in just one month! The market has plenty of different filter bottles, jugs and straws available. Here’s a blogpost on different travelfirendly water filtration solutions.

Bags

In many western countries, you now have to pay 10 cents for a plastic bag. In the developing world, you have to say NO 10 times to avoid them. Bring a bag or two whenever you go shopping. If you do end up with a plastic bag in your hands, re-use it, for as long as you can.

Straws

The plastic straw is in the top six of single use plastics found in the ocean. It’s a routine add-on in most of the world. By proactively showing up with your reusable straw you can say no to many plastic ones. This is especially great when you are in a coconut or cocktail country! Many options are out there: stainless steel, bamboo, glass and silicon. Heck, you can even use the branch of a papaya tree as a straw. Using my stainless steel straw has saved me hundreds of plastic ones. And have given me dozens of awareness raising conversations! Make it a habit. Here is a blog on reusable straws.

Bottom units

For the parents

An average baby uses seven diapers a day. Assuming the little one is potty-trained by age two—that’s over 5,000 diapers! After newspapers and packaging, diapers are the largest disposable item in our trash pile. Did you know that disposable diapers also have plastic in them? Every single disposable diaper ever used is still out there. The poo may be organic, but most diapers are not. Get some cool shark, dolphin, star or coconut printed cloth diapers, saving money, energy, toxins and waste. And your kid will look super cool in his unique outfit.

For the girls

Women use an estimated 11,000 tampons or sanitary pads in a lifetime. The average pad contains as much plastic as four carrier bags. Most tampons contain plastic. Most tampons are bleached. We don’t consciously eat plastic or bleach. Why would we want to put it in our bodies? And waterways? We can reduce plastic and chemicals in our ocean, and save a lot of money by choosing alternatives. What’s a better solution? A reusable menstruation cup or pad. You can insert it like a tampon, you can still climb masts and dance-like with a tampon—but you only need one. You can reuse it, over and over again. Try it! Please ditch the tampon—and if you really can’t, at least use the organic tampons.

Blog & Video: What’s in my zero waste travel kit?

Recycle

Even if you dispose of your waste correctly, you never know where it will end up, so recycle where you can even before generating the waste. Compared to making a new plastic product, recycling uses less water, fossil fuel and resource extraction. But don’t forget, plastic can only be down-cycled. A bottle can never be a bottle again. 

I’m talking a lot about plastic here, but another type of product with huge environmental impact is tech gear. It’s called e-waste. Bring your old tech stuff to dealers that can use the parts. Or sell it. Apple has a recycling program, as well as most other tech brands. Please don’t just throw it ‘away.’ 

Products made from recycled-something are often better than new. It helps to create awareness, but, it’s not the solution! Eventually, it will still add to the trash pile. 

Rethink, refuse, reuse, reduce, rechoose, repair recycle . . . 

Above all, make it fun!

We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly. – Zero Waste Chef

 

From ocean adventure comes awareness. From that, comes caring. From caring comes action and leadership. We can only do good if we first hand experience the magic of the seas as well as the realities that the oceans are facing in the first place. Ocean adventure can spark new insights and give one a new set of eyes. It makes us more conscious as consumers. It makes us stronger, more confident, resilient. It makes new leaders. Maybe Ocean leaders!

This blogpost is an excerpt from the bonus section of book Ocean Nomad: the hitchhike guide to the oceans. Jump on an ocean adventure and experience the magic and challenges for yourself.


 

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Adventure & Impact Sailing Opportunities for August and September | 2019

Here are the latest sailing opportunities I have (co) – created to connect you to the sea, yourself, and to others like you.

We’re all on similar journeys, dreaming and doing about ocean adventures and to make a positive impact around us. We have brilliant ideas, projects, dream, actions, and desires for experiences, learning, connection, and to be part of something. We’re looking to connect with others honouring simple and sustainable lifestyles. But alone we can only do so much! 

With Ocean Nomads, I aim to connect more of you to nature and each other. With trips and soon also a community app. For now, the following trips have been planned to help you accelerate your adventures and journeys and connections. I hope to welcome you on board!

Eco Day Sail in Amsterdam & Ijsselmeer with Sailmate | August 2019

Anna and I met over the internet, and then sailed together for a week in Sicily last year. We connected well, and have been eager to do more, team up, make impact and have fun. Anna is a German living and loving the Netherlands. And I’m a Dutchy living and loving anywhere but in the Netherlands. So it’s about time to sail in Holland, isn’t it? Together we want to reach & connect more people with the same interest.

We’ll organize numerous eco-minded daytrips that you can join as an individual or with a group (max 4). It are full day sails including lunch and much more. A unique, nature-minded and adventurous way to experience Amsterdam.
What? Exclusive Eco Day Sail Experience in Amsterdam
When? August 24 and 25. Enquire for other dates.
Where? Amsterdam

Connecting to your Self & the Ocean of Possibilities through Yoga & Sailing | September 7 – 14

For being able to take responsibility for the outside world, to fight for what you believe in we need to take care of the self. Being centered in your inner source of strength and having your reason for being on this planet clear supports your mission in the outside world. One boat, a bunch of ocean lovers and 7 days of exploration of your inner world.

Nicole and I studied, travelled, worked and lived together. And our mentor always said we should put our strengths together and make things happen. Here we are! This September we rent a boat in Croatia and invite a few souls looking to connect to nature, but above all, the inner self. Nicole is a highly qualified yoga instructor, coach, and super empathic well-being accelerator. She’ll run the program aimed to make you feel your best self. I’ll run the boat.

What? Connecting to your innerself. Yoga, Meditation, Sailing & Adventure

When? September 7 – 14 2019

Where? Croatia

Learn more and jump on board

 

Meet your Adventure & Impact-driven Tribe & Accelerate the dreams and impact | Ocean Nomads Croatia Flotilla  August 31 – September 7

With this event, we aim to connect ocean adventurers and change-makers for maximum fun and impact, at sea! With multiple sailing boats, we’ll facilitate the connection between a beautiful mix of purpose-driven salty souls and between you and nature. As a group we can explore the edges of the ideal. We’ll share ideas, skills, knowledge, support, connections, and above all: fun ocean adventure time!

What? Connecting Dreamers & Doers at Sea. Adventure, Fun, Sustainability & Networking.
When? August 31 – September 7 2019
Where? Croatia

Learn more and jump on board

 

You can also hire me as captain or crew or to organize you personalized epic ocean adventure.

 

Not able to join now? Or not sure yet? Learn more on OceanNomads.co, Check out some testimonials, Subscribe to the Ocean Nomads newsletter to be updated about the next spontaneous sailing trips, meet-ups, crew opportunities and the next steps of this movement. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to prepare, assess safety and minimize risk as crew? | Sailing across the Atlantic

How to prepare, assess safety and minimize risk as crew before sailing an ocean?

Even in this era of satellite phones, safety and rescue technology, and communication systems, the nearest help can still be hundreds of miles away when sailing across an ocean. What can happen on an ocean crossing? A lot! You can get sick, fall overboard, hit something, lose the rig, have a fire, get water in the boat, rip the sails, break a leg, or in the worst-case scenario, sink. Airplanes crash. Cars crash. So do boats. To be blunt, shit happens. The Atlantic has no reefs or rocks in the middle, so the risk factor of hitting something is extremely low. Still, you could hit another boat, a whale or a floating container. These are rare scenarios, but it could happen. You need to rely on yourself. That’s why it’s so important that the boat is as safe and as prepared as it can be. And so are you as Atlantic sailing crew! To be ready to expect the unexpected, careful investigation and preparation is essential. 

How can you minimise risk and negative consequences as a crew member? What to be alert for as ocean sailing crew? What to consider for safety sailing gear for crew? What can you do as crew to prepare?

Here is an offshore sailing safety checklist for crew

Check the state of the boat

Your life depends on the condition of the boat. Check (or have someone to check) the hull, rig, sails, pumps, engine, and sails. Have new installations been tested? Are there spares and kit for repairs? Is there enough carrying capacity for fuel and water and back up water? 

Check safety equipment on board

Make sure that the boat you hop on has the essential and preferably recommended (serviced) sailing safety gear and measures, like communication technology (VHF, Satellite phone), radar, radar reflector, foghorn, a liferaft, man over board equipment flares, fire fighting equipment, EPIRB, a manual bildgepump, a bucket, extra lines, a storm sail, storm anchor, spares, spares, and spares. (Find explanations and checklists in Ocean Nomad).

Check and prepare personal sailing safety gear

What to bear in mind in terms of sailing safety gear for crew? Be sure that you as crew have a life jacket and safety line. An ocean- worthy life jacket is different from the one they have for you on the ferry or below your airplane seat. Captains often provide these but certainly not always. Be sure there is one for you on board. The most comfortable one will be one that is your own. Consider investing in one yourself. You will wear it for dozens of hours during the ocean crossing. They come in all sorts and sizes. Life jackets are graded by flotation capacity. A 150N (N stands for Newton and refers to how buoyant they are) jacket is the minimum recommended standard for offshore sailing. Life jackets should at least have a light, reflector and spray hood. Also, harnesses should be on board, so you will able to clip yourself. Life jackets carry gas cylinders to inflate them (check if they are serviced). If you are planning to fly with a life jacket, contact the airline in advance to receive approval to carry one.

Reduce risk especially if you’re planning to join sailing regattas and races and get yourself a pair of gloves. Fingers don’t like to be caught in winches. 

A pocket knife/ yacht knife can be a useful item in the safety sailing gear kit for rigging, fixing, cutting, measuring, chopping. Boats have tools too; it’s not a must. But who knows, it may save your life in an emergency! If you pack a knife, pack one with a blade that can cut a rope. 

Be water proof. You can have all sorts of weather: from freezing cold and wet to tropical heat. Most likely you will have some chilly days and squalls. The northern route requires more warm clothes than the southern route, and wet weather gear is a must. The answer: bring layers! You’ll thank yourself for having a good waterproof jacket and for having a dry set of clothes. It would be more comfortable to have foul weather sailors’ jacket and pants, but you don’t need advanced sailing gear just for the crossing. 

Find an offshore sailing gear checklist in book Ocean Nomad. Here I wrote a blog with a summer sailing packing list from which you could take away some tips too.


Assess competence on board

To a large extent, the state of the boat is also a reflection of the captain’s personality and capabilities. Do your research on the background of the boat, captain and fellow crew. The people you share the adventure with either make or break the experience. Realise that anyone can buy a boat without experience or license. It is vital that you get along with the people on board, trust in the captain’s abilities, and feel safe. Learn as much as you can about the captain, crew and boat to figure out the state of preparation. Meet up beforehand, fix things together and go for a sail. This will give you an insight into the captain’s personality, values, competencies and problem-solving skills. And it works vice versa of course. Make sure you get a sailing crew safety briefing. Find the checklists in book Ocean Nomad.

Be insured

  1. Be sure that the ship has proper insurance and that you are not financially liable in the event of major damage or even worse, a sunken boat. 
  2. Make sure that you have good travel and liability insurance. I recommend TopSail for sailing crew insurance. For medical travel insurance for nomads SafetyWing can be a good solution. It works with many nationalities and can be obtained on the way. It also covers offshore sailing!

 

Have a backup plan

Sailboats deal with seasons, routes, weather, breakage, and all sorts of variables. By thinking about scenarios in advance makes it easy to peacefully change course and comply with Captains’ calls. Should the trip not go as planned, have a backup plan, including an emergency budget to sustain yourself or to book a flight, should the trip not go as planned. 

Check the drinking water situation

Calculate if there’s enough water on board, and if a backup system is in place (such as a water maker, or two tanks, with one closed). Think about:

    • The number of crew, length of the passage, capacity of the water tank, estimated days of sailing + extra emergency days. Each person needs at least three liters of water for drinking only.
    • Make sure there’s a backup plan for contaminated tank water. If there’s only one water tank, you need to have backup water, just in case the tank gets contaminated or salty.
    • Bring a filter water bottle for yourself so you can filter water at all times.

Develop seamanship skills

Know the bearings. Learn about the passage, seasons, distance, destinations, weather, costs, and tasks involved

Map of Atlantic Crossing Sailing Routes. Originally published in Ocean Nomad – The Complete Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide

Learn the basics of how to use the radio. Note that only those with a VHF certificate or with the assistance of a certificate holder you are allowed to use the radio. It’s not a toy. If there’s one thing you learn about radio, learn how and when to do a Mayday call. 

Learn the essential knowledge regarding the Rules with other vessels. NauticEd has a free course on navigation rules.

Learn how to read the weather, on charts as well as from changing weather patterns when looking around. This can literally be a lifesaver! Being up-to-date on the weather is the most sensible prevention measure you can take to reduce risk. Study the weather patterns on your planned route, and learn how to read grib files, simplified low data weather data charts. Learn about weather patterns and reading

Learn about sea survival, maintenance of safety gear, life rafts, storm sailing, firefighting, search and rescue procedures, seasickness, and communication at sea. If you have the budget for a course, consider obtaining the STCW10 certificate. This is a basic safety certificate where you learn about personal safety and survival, firefighting, first aid/CPR, and personal safety and social responsibility.

Be prepared for first aid

Have someone (or a good book) on board with first aid knowledge.

Make sure there is a well-equipped medical kit on board, including prescription drugs and pain relief.

If no one on board has specific First Aid knowledge, is there a specialist contact you can call with the satellite phone in the event of an emergency?

Prepare for seasickness

Most people, including captains and professional crew, get seasick, some more severely than others. It’s quite normal, especially during the first few days of an ocean passage. How to prepare for seasickness?

  • Have seasickness medicine, ginger candy, biscuits and mineral electrolyte solution as part of your kit. Test seasickness medicine before to see how your body reacts. 
  • The day before:
    • Eat super healthy and light.
    • Be well hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Don’t drink alcohol, coffee or black tea. That dehydrates.
  • A few hours before sailing out:
    • Take seasickness medication.
    • Have your clothes, head torch, sunscreen, water bottle, sickness bag, and all you need for watch and sleeping, ready to grab. You’ll be okay doing watch, and you’ll be fine lying on your back in bed with your eyes closed. It’s just the areas between bed and cockpit that are the challenging zones to navigate when you’re seasick.
  • Have some crackers ready to nibble on.

I usually get seasick first day at sea. But I know how to deal with it and remain a competent crew. I prefer seasickness over the side effects of seasickness medication. It makes me a more useful crew member. More on dealing with seasickness at sea in book Ocean Nomad.

Take care of your health and comfort

We can only be our best if we feel our best. As crew you are on board to help everything run smoothly, so better stay healthy onboard. Be and stay fit, so you can deal with any situation that crops up. Besides seasickness, a few of the biggest health risks on board are sunburn, dehydration, food poisoning, insect bites, wounds, contaminated water, and just general well-being. How can you personally prepare to stay on top of your health on an ocean crossing?

  • Be well rested before the crossing. 
  • Rest well when you are not on watch. Is your boat bed rocking-proof? Do you have a lee cloth? If not, make one. You won’t be the first being thrown out of bed.
  • Do you have a specific diet, allergy or medical condition? Prepare for that yourself and inform fellow crew in advance.
  • Any tooth problems? Have it checked before you go! There’s no dentist on the ocean.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle and have it with you to remind yourself to drink enough.
  • Also, include a filter water bottle as part of your kit, so you have clean drinking water at all times and can drink straight from the tank in case the boat doesn’t have a water filtration system (yet!).
  • Start fit and stay fit. See the health kit in Ocean Nomad for more suggestions on what to bring. Also, provisioning makes a huge difference to how you will feel for the weeks at sea.
  • Wear a cap, sunglasses, and mineral-based sunscreen.

About the set sail for the fourth Atlantic Crossing

Be able to communicate

Is there a satellite phone on board? Or another device to send/receive data at sea for weather info and/or emergencies? The most important is that there is a way to check the weather. 

  • Make sure the communication equipment onboard has been tested.
  • Save emergency numbers in the satellite phone and write them down and put them in a visible spot.

Have a Personal GPS. A personal tracking device is a cost-effective possibility that allows text communication, location tracking, and emergency alerts in the unlikely event that you get lost at sea, or anywhere. This may be welcome to have if you’re doing solo watches or plan to explore foreign lands on your own after the sailing adventure. Above all, don’t fall overboard. Ever. I only got one this year and wished I got it from my very first offshore passage. Since last Atlantic crossing with 50 knots of wind and solo watches, I’m not compromising on this safety device. After a serious investigation of personals locator beacons I got myself a Garmin Inreach Mini. Still affordable, as small and light as it can get and with 2-way communication possibilities. 

Know the boat

Learn how the boat works as soon as possible. Walk all the lines. Observe, learn and memorise. Learn how the different systems on board work. Know where all safety equipment is located (Grab bag, flares, life jackets, fire extinguishers, life raft, MOB gear, first aid kit). If something happens to the skipper and/or other capable crew, someone’s got to be able to take over.

Don’t forget to tell mum

Make sure someone knows where you are. Give the home base contact details, such as the satellite phone number, captain’s number, and details of crew members and their family. 

Show your family/friends how to use marinetraffic.com. If the boat you are on has an AIS transponder, you are traceable in the VHF radio zone. Tell them that the boat can disappear from the radar when you’re out of the radio zone (+/– 50 miles from coast). You don’t want them to call Search & Rescue because your boat has disappeared from the map! Mums have done this before and it can turn out to be a costly call.

Nearly all boats making an ocean crossing will have satellite phone and/or SSB radio on board. Both systems can send and receive text and email when you’re out of the coastal radio zone. They are expensive to use, so don’t expect to be able to call home except in an emergency. Family and friends can often send messages to the phone for free though, so that’s cool! 

Some boats may have a tracking device that sends out a GPS signal every hour or so your family and friends can trace you. The Garmin Inreach I have also does that.

Fair winds!

Things will happen. It’s all part of the adventure. Hop on board with an ‘it can be done’ attitude, be inventive, alert and well-prepared, and you can tackle whatever situation comes up.

All you really need is water, food, a compass, and a (paper) chart of the Atlantic. The rest is a bonus, safety measure, or an extra headache. Equipment can make the ride more comfortable and safe but also more complicated. Every addition costs maintenance and money. Every boat has its problems. Boat works are ongoing. Stuff breaks and has to be repaired all the time, so don’t freak out. This is perfectly normal. And you actually learn most on boats where things break. It just makes it extra important to figure out if the captain and crew are well prepared, competent and positively vibed. If something is nagging inside of you, don’t do it. Follow your instinct. Opportunities come along all the time. 

There will always be a risk. But what’s life without it?

There is a lot more to say about this. That’s why I wrote a book 🙂 Learn more about finding and assessing rides across the Atlantic in Ocean Nomad: the Complete Atlantic Sailing Crew Guide – Catch a Sailboat Ride & Contribute to a healthier ocean. Grab your copy to be well prepared and sure about your ride! 

Download the E-Book here

Or grab a print edition in a bookstore near you, at Bol.com or Amazon.

Do you have more questions? Write in the comments, contact me for a virtual coconut or join me and a bunch of other Ocean Nomads (of which several sailing across the Atlantic) on our next sailing and sustainability adventure sail in Croatia.

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How to make DIY Natural Sunscreen | Simple, Quick & Easy

One ocean solution option against the use of chemical sunscreens is to make your own DIY mineral-based sunscreen. It’s fun. It’s easy and so far as the research and testing goes, a better option for your own and the ocean’s health than chemical-based sunscreen affecting ocean health. Here is an easy and quick DIY natural sunscreen recipe.

(& Here is an extensive blog post about sunscreen and the environment and our health).

How does DIY mineral based sunscreen protect you from the sun?

The sun blocking ingredient in DIY sunscreen is Zinc Oxide (or also used: titanium oxide). These minerals reflect rays and work as a shield as opposed to the chemical sunscreens that our body absorbs. Every percentage of zinc in the mix is around SPF 2.  So if your blend is 10% zinc and 90% other oils you have a sunscreen of SPF 20. Additionally, different oils have a certain SPF as well (though no hardcore data on this exist), and feed the skin.

Is DIY mineral based Sunscreen risky and dangerous?

The reasoning that some articles claim that DIY sunscreen is dangerous is because you can’t verify the SPF with homemade sunscreens. So you’re not that sure on how long it will work and how often you have to re-apply. The mainstream sunscreen may have a more accurate SPF and big budgets to test and improve but they also have hormone disrupters, chemicals, ocean killing ingredients, and commercial interest. Above all, sunscreen is the last resort. Before you use sunscreen, do everything else right in the first place.

I just made my first sunscreen and I would like to share the result and lessons learned with you.

Words of warning: I’m not a trained or professional cosmetic creator. I’m simply curious, creative and looking for simple and natural ways to make a positive impact on the ocean and the people around. I research far and beyond to get to well-researched data to make it easier for you to make better decisions. Use this advice with caution and find out what works best for you, while considering the health of the ocean we’re all dependent on.

How to Make DIY natural Sunscreen?

Step 1. Source the natural sunscreen ingredients

Ingredients for DIY mineral-based sunscreen:

  • Coconut Oil (SPF 4-6)
  • Almond Oil (SPF 5)
  • Jojoba Oil (SPF 4)
  • Rose Hip Oil
  • Zinc Oxide Powder (Every % of the total mix is +/-1 SPF 2)
  • Shea Butter (SPF 4-6)
  • Cacao butter
  • Love <3

Finding the ingredients for this natural sunscreen is the most time-consuming part. I did the leg work for you. At the end of this blog, I recommend some places (in different countries) where you can source the ingredients.

Other cold-pressed oils can be considered too. Have a look what you have in your house or boat already.  The main working ingredient is Zinc Oxide. The different oils also have an SPF (especially seed oils are said to generally have a high protection factor). But I haven’t found hardcore data on the true SPF of the different oils. Also, some oils smell nicer than others. Here are some more oils to consider that I’ve seen being used in sunscreens:

  • Olive Oil  – 2-8
  • Hemp Seed Oil – SPF 6
  • Macadamia Oil – SPF 6
  • Carrot Seed Oil – SPF 38 – 40
  • Avocado Oil – 4 – 10 (can get as high as 15)
  • Sesame Seed Oil – SPF 4
  • Raspberry Seed Oil (SPF 25-50)

I visited tons of blogs on DIY sunscreen recipes. Also, I’ve looked at the ingredient lists of numerous mineral-based sunscreens. Based on what I could source, what is vegan, and what has proven to work well with others I choose to mix the 7 ingredients for mineral based sunscreen as listed above. It turned out pretty good! What I’ve learned is important is to mix with an oil and a thicker butter (I choose cacao butter and shea butter). Often also beeswax is used for a thicker consistency is used but beeswax often comes with other ethical issues.

 

Step 2. Mix the sunscreen ingredients ‘Au Bain Marie’

Put in a glass or bowl:

  • 1 Spoon of Coconut Oil
  • 1 Spoon of Almond Oil
  • 1 Spoon of Jojoba Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Rose Hip Oil
  • 2 Spoons of Shea Butter
  • 1  3cm x 3cm block of Cacao Butter

At last: add 2 Spoons of Zinc Oxide Powder (or more if you’d like a higher protection ratio).

This recipe, I estimate to be +/- SPF 25. To increase SPF add an extra spoon of Zinc Oxide powder.

Put this glass or bowl in a pan with warm water so the cold oils will melt and you can mix the ingredients. I wouldn’t let it boil. It may damage the good properties and there is no need. I found a glass useful since it will stand on the bottom of the pan (and not float and risk water ingress).

You also have specialized au bain marie melting pots if you’re looking to go advanced.

Step 3. Put the mixture in a practical package

See if you have something that you can re-use. I used a little metal container originally used for loose tea. Works great!

Some suggestions for sunscreen packaging:

  • An old pill jar
  • An old sunscreen or shampoo bottle
  • An empty soap pump
  • A glass jar (if you’re not travelling)
  • A metal container

Step 4. Let your sunscreen cool down

This will make the sunscreen more solid.

Step 5. Try it out! And go play in the outdoors

I’m surprisingly pleased with the result. The sunscreen feels like a little spa on my face. It applies well and I have not got sunburned in the hot Spanish sun so far. You do need to spread it out well to not be as white as ghost. But this mixture makes me way less white than other mineral sunscreens I’m testing. The cacao butter smell is a bit dominating. I don’t mind this. To me, it tastes like the tropics. My skin feels soft and nurtured. If you’ll be surfing or sailing the full day I recommend to increase the % of Zinc Oxide powder to have a higher grade of protection and/or re-apply throughout the day.

Let me know how you like it! And how this works for you.

Recommended Mineral-Based sunscreen on the market

DIY mineral based sunscreen not for you? Here are some recommendations for mineral-based sunscreens out on the market. I’m putting them all to the test. Soon I’ll have the results online!

Where to find the DIY Mineral based Sunscreen Ingredients?

Find the ingredients as local as you can. Here’s why. Check out the herbal shop, pharmacy or eco shop near you. Alternatively, we have: the internet ;).

Zinc Oxide Powder (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsFranceSpainElsewhere in Europe)

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlands – Spain)

Almond Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Jojoba Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Rose Hip Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Shea Butter (Buy in: USAUKNetherlands – Spain)

Cacao butter (Buy in: USAUKNetherlandsSpain)

Raspberry Seed Oil (Buy in: USAUKNetherlands )

Zero Waste Sunscreen Packaging

In the USA/ Canada

 

In Europe

 

FAQ

What is the shelve life of natural based sunscreen?

Individually the ingredients of this recipe all have a considerable shelf life. This recipe doesn’t have any conserving ingredients. As far as my research and testing has gone so far this mixture won’t go bad quickly.  Zinc Oxide does not deteriorate over time and has an indefinite shelf life, “which means that they are extremely stable and can tolerate high heat, UV light and moisture without disintegration (1)”

The sunscreen diminishes quicker when exposed to heat, which is likely because we take this stuff to the beach and sun. Try to store it in a dark and cool place. No need to have it in the fridge. When the sunscreen starts to look grainy or doesn’t apply well to the skin it may be time to shake things up to see if it returns to it’s creamy form. Un unpleasant sell could be another clue of expiration.

How to increase the SPF?

This recipe, I estimate to be +/- SPF 25. To increase SPF add an extra spoon of Zinc Oxide powder.

References

In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics

In-Depth Blog on DIY Sunscreen from Wellnessmama

What happens when sunscreen expires?

How long does sunscreen last before it expires?

Learn more about sunscreen and the ocean

Biodegradable sunscreen for a healthy ocean and healthy you. What to know? What to choose?

The 7 dangerous ingredients of Sunscreen

Why oxybenzone and octinoxate are bad for reefs

A Single Drop of Sunscreen Can Kill Coral

 

As always, opinions are my own. No organisation or brand is paying me to write this or mention them. Sometimes links to ocean-friendly items contain affiliate links. If you’re looking to purchase something, huge thanks if you purchase it via this website (but try to find it locally first). At no extra cost to you, orders and bookings through this website give me a tiny piece of the pie that help me keep investigating, exploring and creating content about ocean action and solutions! Here are more ways to support ocean awareness and action. Splashthanks!


 

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Biodegradable sunscreen for a healthy ocean and healthy you. What to know? What to choose?

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Crew Opportunities: Simplicity & Sustainability Adventure Sailing in the Balearics | Summer 2019

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What is Posidonia Oceanica? And what can you do to protect it? | Ocean Nomad TV eps. 3