Meet Ocean Nomads Skipper: Eoin | Kayaker, Surfer & Professional Sea Hippy

a man is standing on a sailboat in the water.

Eoin! What's your story?

I grew up in Limerick, Ireland, and was involved in outdoor sports from a young age. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been surfing, hiking, camping, and spending as much time as possible outdoors. I got involved in kayaking in a big way when I was a teenager and started traveling a lot, spending my summers on road trips across Europe to discover new rivers and work as a raft guide and kayaking instructor. Entering kayaking competitions was an excellent excuse to go traveling and see new places, but working in an office so that I could go on kayaking trips on my holidays got boring pretty fast. I wanted to kayak full-time, but kayaking just doesn’t have the industry behind it to allow that kind of thing. I discovered sailing in 2015 when I started crewing on boats in local regattas. I loved the buzz of racing, and immediately saw the potential alternative to the 9-5 engineering job that I was doing at the time.I quit the office job and moved to Greece, where a company taught me to fix boats before putting me out on the water as a flotilla engineer, living on a little 30ft lead boat and doing all the maintenance on a flotilla of twelve charter yachts. I did that job for over a year before leaving to do some delivery work and then bought my own boat (a 1969 Hurley 22) and spent a summer sailing solo on the west coast of Ireland and crewing in as many regattas as I could. After that, I started working as a skipper, starting as a flotilla skipper in Greece and then spending the winter in the Caribbean doing engineering and skippering work for a small charter company. I also did some job in Croatia and Ireland, whenever the funds were running low. Since then, I’ve spent three months sailing with friends around Spain/ Portugal/ Morocco and did another three months of solo sailing in Ireland. It’s starting to get pretty cold and wet in Ireland now, so here I am, following the sun for another season.
a man is kayaking down a river in a yellow kayak.

“The ocean is the boss; if it’s calm, it’s time to go freediving; if there’s wind, it’s time to go sailing; if it’s too rough to sail, then there’s probably surf somewhere.”

Why are you excited about joining the OceanMinded – Ocean Nomads fleet?

After seeing ocean pollution firsthand, witnessing the total lack of sub-marine life in certain areas, and the continuing destruction of what remains in others. I am looking forward to spending time with people who are passionate about solving these issues. Hopefully, people who enjoy the simple life, and value sights and experiences over luxury.
I am looking forward to being out of phone signal for days at a time, disconnecting from the online world. Life revolving around the absolute basics of ‘when am I on watch again’ and ‘what is my next meal going to be.’ These days, offshore sailing is an almost unique opportunity to escape the constant flow of Facebook updates and Instagram stories for days at a time. …yes, I know I could turn my phone off more often, but I lack the self-discipline, and I enjoy seeing what my friends around the world are up to!

Why are you passionate about sailing?

Sailing offers the chance to travel to amazing places in relative comfort with surfboards and other toys, like a camper van but causing no pollution and not spending loads of money on fuel, tax, and insurance. Yacht racing is a high adrenaline buzz and offers great satisfaction when you get a whole crew of people working seamlessly together. And jobs on boats tend to be in amazing sunny places where you get to meet lots of like-minded people and have fun together. I can’t think of any other activity which combines so many amazing qualities so closely together.

a man standing on top of a submarine underwater.

What has been one of your most epic sailing adventure thus far?

In April this year, I was put in touch with a friend of a friend who lives on board an old 33ft steel cruising boat. At the time she was in Portugal and was looking for some people to go sailing with her. I and one of my best friends who had never sailed before went and spent the next couple of months sailing with a crew of five amazing young people from Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. We had our share of ups and downs along the way, including contrary weather around the straits of Gibraltar and getting caught in fishing nets along the west coast of Morocco. Still, everyone on board had a great attitude when things went wrong. The rough times were made up for surfing, hiking, and the Moroccan people we met along the way. Around the straits, we saw more whales, dolphins, turtles, sunfish, bioluminescent jellyfish, and tuna than I’ve ever seen before. In Assilah, we saw commercial swordfish and tuna fishing on a horrifying scale that I wouldn’t have believed possible. It was a trip of so many contrasts and intense, unique experiences that it will hold a special place in my memory for a long time. There are many more stories from that trip I’ll save for night watches somewhere between Gibraltar and the Canaries; see you there!

a man in sunglasses is taking a selfie on a sailboat.

What does the ocean mean to you?

The ocean is life! The ocean is my means of transport, accommodation, sustenance, employment, entertainment… For a long time now, it’s been at the core of everything I do. The ocean is the boss; if it’s calm, it’s time to go freediving; if there’s the wind, it’s time to go sailing; if it’s too rough to sail, then there’s probably surf somewhere. If you want to go west and that’s where the wind is coming from, well, you had better have some good books on board because there’s no point fighting it. There’s no point making plans and then getting stressed because they’re not working out. You do that a few times before realizing that there’s no point making solid plans because they’re just going to change anyway. Better to give yourself options; wake up in the morning, stick your head out of the boat and see what the ocean is telling you to do. If you keep doing that, there’s no knowing where you’ll end up, or what adventures you’ll have along the way.

What’s your wildest ocean-related dream that you would love to experience in your lifetime?

Solo offshore racing! I love racing, and I love sailing solo. Someday I would love to combine the two and enter the Mini Transat race or something like that. …it’s not that I don’t enjoy crewed sailing too, but the feeling of independence that you get from sailing solo is pretty special. And entering a singlehanded race is something that I’m not sure I’ll ever have the funds to do.

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