My name is Suzanne. My nomadic life has one constant: the calling of the ocean. In, at or near the sea I’m the best version of myself. The ocean gives me play, energy, and life. As a user, I feel responsible to bring life back into the ocean.
The Journey in short
I didn’t grow up near the ocean, but during the now +13 years of nomadding, I learned to dive, surf, and freedive. Superpowered by the ocean sports, driven by curiousity, and with an urge to learn and explore more, I just had to move to the sea. About five years ago, I discovered sailing boats as an alternative means of travel. I realised that sailing is actually not only for the rich or kids that grew up sailing. I learned how (and how not;)) to catch sailboat rides. Since, I’ve boathitchhiked +30.000 miles of on a variety of sailing vessels in every ocean. I qualified myself as a captain so I can take others sailing and share what the magic is all about. Because to get the ocean truly in your heart, you need to experience the ocean. With Ocean Nomads I aim to connect more of you to each other and the sea.
Photo: Taking my first trip as a qualified captain very serious ;)!
How Ocean Nomads came about
When I started sailing a couple of years ago, I had no idea about sailing and I didn’t have connections in sailing either. I struggled to find out how to get into travelling by sail with little budget and experience, and as I went on I struggled finding ‘my kind of people.’
I arrive in new places. I mix with the locals, the yachties, the retired sailor and holiday makers, the ‘normal’ citizens, the sabbatical backpacker, or holiday surfer. But rarely I find those wild souls and tribes living similar lifestyles where I just fit in and can relate with. Relationships are everything and if I can’t find my tribe, I create it!
I’ve ‘crewed/hitchhiked’ on about 50 different boats now. Good, bad, and priceless experiences. I’ve figured out some things along the way. I received more and more questions from people on how they can travel by sail too. I started blogging and writing about it as ‘Oceanpreneur‘, and I create an occasional amateuristic video. The initial 20-page boat hitchhiking tips document idea escalated into a 400-page book called Ocean Nomad.
When I launched my book Ocean Nomad (in 2017), I was investigating ways to stay in touch with my readers and to help them more. Since, gradually Ocean Nomads has been organically growing into a global network of ocean adventurers and changemakers. I started a Facebook group called Ocean Nomads. But Facebook groups are shallow, messy, and spammy. They don’t really connect people. What does really connect people is bringing them together in nature and go on an adventure! So I got my captain license. So I could rent boats, invite people to come sailing and share the magic. Over the years, different sailing trips and meet-ups have been organized and co-organized. And after each event the same conclusion, we got to do more of this! And we got to surround ourselves more with people like this.
But alone, I can only do so much. I’ve been juggling a bunch of Facebook groups, trips, social media, and creative projects in different places to connect you to the ocean and each other. Then there are tons of other Facebook groups lacking the community spirit. It’s all over the place. It doesn’t necessarily allow me to create the best experience for you. By taking Ocean Nomads to the next level, I can introduce you to more people, we can introduce each other to more and the right connections, unlock valuable collaborations, team-ups, meet-ups and the content, resources, ideas and practices for our ocean nomads journeys.
In 2017 on the ‘Our Ocean’ conference in Malta I met a little angel called Selene and she has been supporting greatly since to help me manage and develop Oceanpreneur. She has also played a big part into developing Ocean Nomads into what it is now. Then Eleanor came along welcoming me after my fourth Atlantic crossing. We got along well and she jumped on board to get this fleet going. Selene, Eleanor I make up Team Ocean Nomads + 30 super Ambassadors + YOU! Ocean Nomads is by Ocean Nomads for ocean nomads.
Lessons learned so far
My ocean explorations have taught me about the magnitude of the challenges our oceans are facing. And its urgency. Through spending time at sea, I’ve become sharply aware of the natural world around me. It has inspired and opened my eyes. I’ve come to realise how disconnected from nature we are in our daily lives.
It’s since my first offshore sailing experience that I learned how bad the situation in our ocean really is, and how dependent we are on it for our own survival. In the middle of nature, far away from civilisation, I’ve seen all sorts of plastic items floating by. Human-made things that don’t belong there.
Usually, we see it in the news: ‘islands’ of plastic, straws in turtles, disappearing islands, whales washed ashore. We’re far away and it’s hard to make it tangible. It doesn’t really affect us. Or so we think. But by being out there and seeing it for yourself, you broaden your horizon. Seeing the trashed and fishless waters, makes you think, gain fresh perspectives, and inspires to act to turn the tide of the ocean challenges. Witnessing that makes you think about the impact that we are making as people. And as individuals.
When you see what’s happening with your own eyes, talk face-to-face with people living on and for the ocean, and experience its value, it makes you eager to learn more. And it gives rise to an urge to do something. Seeing a bottle, I can’t even guarantee it wasn’t mine! I have thrown ‘away’ dozens of bottles in my life. Now I have learned, there is no ‘away.’
Video: A dive to the bottom of the sea:
I learned how precious our resources are such as water, power, fresh air, and fresh fruits and vegetables. All the things we take for granted on land become priceless when you have experienced life without them. And I learned that living with limited resources is absolutely fine and doable. Very liberating really. Sailing makes you a conscious consumer and a more grateful person for every little luxury thing. Still, every drop of water, fresh fruit, and a good night of sleep feel priceless to me. We really don’t need much. And the less we have the more time and energy we have to spend on what matters. But all together we’re using the planet like we have a spare one when we ‘finish’ planet ocean. We need to learn again to live with nature instead of from it. But we need to join forces to figure it all out. No one of us has the answers, but together we may do.
Photo: Cooking a simple one-pot meal on top of the engine room:
I also learned I’m not alone. We’re many out there all on similar journeys, dreaming and doing about ocean adventures and to make a positive impact around us. We have brilliant ideas, projects, and dreams. We desire to experience, to learn, to connect, and to be part of something. We’re looking to connect with others honouring simple and sustainable lifestyles. We are concerned by the state of the planet. We want to make a positive contribution and do our bit. The ocean brings us so much. As fanatic users, we are responsible for bringing life back into the blue. But alone we can only do so much. We are at the forefront of what’s happening. And we can do a lot to make a positive impact. To reach for the stars, we must surround ourselves with likeminded entrepreneurial salty souls, share knowledge, and inspire and cheerleader each other. So much more is possible if we join forces on our journeys. We need to team up, amplify each other’s messages and build an army to turn the tide.
That’s why I’ve started Ocean Nomads, a global support network for impact-driven ocean adventurers and change-makers. Because we all need to team up to keep our playground, our life, our ocean, alive. Ocean Nomads pulls in tons of connections and discoveries from my last 13 years of travelling coastlines and ocean. But not just mine. By involving you, your experiences, connections and stories we can reach way further, help more, do more, and be more.
What motivates me?
What motives me to keep going is experiencing ocean beauty, whether it’s trough sailing, surfing, or freediving. This gives so much energy. Every kid in the world must experience that. And their kids’ kids. Kids motivate me a lot too! We have to stay as curious as they are.
Photo: SeaClean up with my Turkish friend Nilsu and her crocodile.
What also motivates greatly is hearing people saying ‘it was the best week of my life’ on our sailing trips, and then later see them becoming great ocean ambassadors and activists!
That’s my story. In short. To give you a bit of background. But Ocean Nomads is not about me or by me. It’s by Ocean Nomads for Ocean Nomads. Connect with more Ocean Nomads, share the ocean love, your story, and give and take by becoming a member. We would love to meet you!
With Ocean Love,