Every other week we publish one in-depth story from an Ocean Nomads member. To learn more about each other, to learn from each other, inspire and be inspired, and to accelerate our journeys.
This week we shine a light on Kerstine Launay. Nomad turned sailor on the seven seas, currently working with Sea Shepherd Global.
She discovered sailing in the channels of Patagonia in Chile and, after a few adventures, went on her full-time sailing (and diving) jobs and travels. A few years have passed, exploring the world, discovering environmental issues like plastics pollution and dead zones, and many others. She since became an activist and advocate for a cleaner ocean! Kerstine is now crewing on Sea Shepherd vessels and is excited to share this new chapter with you!
If it scares you, you should probably do it
Strong-willed, adventurous, independent & honest
Country of birth: France
Current basecamp: Not sure if I have one
Favourite Outdoor & Ocean sports: Diving, sailing, yoga
Favourite film or book about the ocean: The Long Road, by Bernard Moitessier, and Liz Clark books Swell. Also any pirate related book.
Kerstine’s superpower: Being able to mix my photography and editing skills with my nomadic life, even though I would like to push this a little bit further and develop more projects; hit me up if you have ideas and need help 🙂
What’s your story?
I am a traveller, I’ve been on the road for several years hitchhiking my way through South America and later traded the land for the sea in the Caribbean. After doing all kinds of jobs, i started working as a sailor, learning the ropes as i went. After crossing the Atlantic and the Pacific and working in the Med and the Caribbean, I’ve joined Sea Shepherd for which I work now as media and bosun’s mate, depending on the needs.
When and how did you fall in love with the ocean?
I fell in love with the ocean and sailing in Patagonia, in Chile. Being surrounded by this extreme landscape, moving around with the force of the wind, exploring places few people get to see. It was a revelation. I discovered that, even though I get sometimes sea sick, I love the feeling of the ocean, moving with the waves, and would not trade it for anything else.
Tell us about your current impact project!
At the moment I am working with Sea Shepherd Global, an ocean conservation NGO. They are fighting for the preservation of marine wildlife. Sea Shepherd operates in different campaigns around the world, protecting the turtles in Mayotte, removing illegal nets in the Gulf of Mexico to protect the vaquita and fighting against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in West Africa, among many other actions.
What’s your ultimate goal and vision with what you do?
I hope to educate others about the beauty of the oceans, and the threats that they face. Whether it is overfishing, illegal fishing, plastic pollution, or one of the many other issues we face, our planet is at risk. Because i wanted to try to do as much as I could, I decided to join an NGO and play my part in defending our home. My goal would be for everyone to come together and help protect the environment and tackle other issues linked to it like modern slavery and wildlife trafficking. Hopefully, we can start consuming less, and more mindfully. We have a voice and we should use it to help not only the voiceless but also to give space for the less heard.
How did you get into this?
In my travels, I somehow always end up with social justice or climate activists. I have difficulties coming to a place and just visit like a mindless tourist without questioning what I did or was shown. I discovered so much that I could not just go back home and act as nothing happened.
What did you do to prepare and educate yourself to start up and progress?
Honestly, I just went and tried and did the things I wanted. Sometimes I fail, sometimes not.
What was your work experience before?
I have been trained as a video editor, so that has been useful for my jobs as a photographer and videographer. After starting sailing I decided to do some courses, but the skill that was more useful for me was to be adaptable and to know how to live in a community of people.
Starting up. Could you share more details about the practicalities?
I have a lot of privileges that allows me to do what I do. I am privileged enough to be able to come home to my parents in the countryside when needed, and I was able to educate myself without having to pay enormous amounts of money to schools. Being debt-free gives me a lot of freedom. I can allow myself to loose without very big consequences.
There is a lot of bureaucratic challenges for sure. I don’t have a house, I’m paid very irregularly ( for now), so all taxes and payments are a bit of a nightmare. I would recommend that you have everything prepared so that you would not have bad surprises about any of it. And keep everything organised, so that if somebody need to get to a specific paper for you, you know where it is and where they should look.
What have been the best and worst memorable moments?
The best would be all of my encounters with marine life, whales, dolphins, and sharks. Worst would be my shipwreck and seeing my favorite animal for the first time ever, a hammerhead shark, but dead, strangled in a fishing line.
People + Planet + Profit. Do you manage to balance these three elements of social entrepreneurship?
You will never be perfect. You will always have an impact on something, whether positive or negative. Just know how much you feel comfortable to compromise for any of the three P cited above.
How are you combining your nomad life / travel ambitions with your impact ambitions?
I am lucky enough that for now, my nomad life is part of the organization I work for. So that makes things easier for me.
What are the most important skills you have developed?
Adaptability. I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone a bit easier and adapt and create my space. That led me to learn a lot of very useful skills from woodwork to photography!
What has been an eye-opener and made you realise the ocean is in trouble?
I think when I learned about the dead zones, that really shocked me. Then diving and sailing and seeing all the plastic floating around, or polluting the sea floor and the coral reefs… I remember diving near a river mouth in the Dominican Republic, the sand was coevered with plastic cups, cutlery, wrappings…. It made me really sad and also quite motivated to help do something about this issue.
How are you contributing to shifting this change in a positive way?
Speak up about these issues. Educate people, discuss with them. I am a real kill-joy in gathering now haha!
Why did you join the Ocean Nomads community?
I think it’s important to have a community where one can ask questions and connect to like-minded people. How else do you grow?
What change would you like to see in the world?
I think we need a change of system. I know, how cliché, isn’t it? But we are on a system that is unliveable. Something with more kindness and respect for others and the planet would be a good start.
What’s next in your life?
Ah! Who knows. Freediving?
What have you learned from working in activism? What advice do you have for someone looking to do something similar? What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self, knowing what you know now? What are some of the habits you’ve developed as you are becoming more conscious about what’s happening with nature?
Thoughts? Questions? Comment and connect!
Follow and connect with Kerstine here on the ocean nomads member hub
Would you like to connect with more oceanminded nomadic adventurers like Kerstine? Join our family!
Would you like to share your story amongst our tribe of oceanminded adventure souls? Become a member and reach out to a host. By sharing your story you will encourage, inform and inspire others towards a more adventurous alternative and/or conscious lifestyle, you can show the ocean nomads community about your personal adventure and impact projects, and attract the connections that will contribute to your life.