Ocean Nomad – Hitch Sailing Across the Atlantic
Suzanne Van Der Veeken is the author of Ocean Nomad. Her motto is to help people connect to the ocean in a positive way and to be able to connect to a like-minded community. She has been sailing for four years now and continues to find places where she can connect to the sea. She doesn’t have a home so wherever she is, she creates a little home until she gets itchy again to move and sail.
What We Discuss with Suzanne Van Der Veeken:
- Her aha moment! that made her decide to travel on sea
- What is an ocean nomad?
- What happens when you’re slow traveling
- Why the greatest connections happen offline
- Suzanne describes her Atlantic crossings and how long it takes
- What her book was about and why she got into writing the book
- Why she chose the self-publishing route
- The birth of the Ocean Nomads community
- The structure of her book and the research and feedback process
[00:50] Suzanne’s Sailing Journey
Without any prior experience, Suzanne got curious about sailing the world one day after being a passenger. She wrote the book to help others how to do this as well.
An ocean nomad is living the slow-sailing lifestyle as a passenger or crew. You get to connect with nature and to other like-minded people.
Slow traveling is a way of being, not doing. It’s more about being present in the place you’re in. It’s about connecting to the locals and experiencing the local food. You go with the wind. You get to slow down and experience the essence of the place instead of passing through.
[04:33] Building the Community
It’s easy to find a sailboat and people to sail with but it’s not easy to find those people that have the same values, ideas, and dreams as you do. As a result, she started to connect more with people all over the world and connecting them to each other.
It’s great to connect online, but the real fun happens offline. You can have the most beautiful connections without those distractions.
[06:50] The Atlantic Crossings
Suzanne has now done four Atlantic crossings – four completely different experiences! It was a big journey so you have to allow at least a month to make this happen as things can never go as planned.
She recently got her captain’s license. Prior that, she has been hitchhiking on boats. At the end of the day, it could still cost you money. Today, she invested in renting boats so she can take other people sailing and share in this lifestyle while earning money.
[10:40] Writing the Book as an Ocean Nomad
She wrote the book out of the many questions she got about how to do what she’s doing. The book is really about having the dream to sail across the Atlantic to actually making it happen.
It serves as a guide to why sail, how to find a ride, the seasons and time to do this, what boats are doing this, which resources to look for. It also covers the topic of ocean conversation.
Suzanne started writing the book during her second Atlantic crossing and for two years she’s been writing the book from one island to another.
She realized that the actual writing was just 5% of the entire process since there’s so that goes with it – publishing, marketing, etc. Suzanne went for self-publishing as she wanted things quick, plus she found the flexibility and freedom from doing it!
[15:11] Having a Shared Experience Through the Facebook Community
Suzanne started the Facebook Ocean Nomads community and over the year, it has grown to connect like-minded people. She’s using this platform to connect people together.
[17:00] Just a Guide, Not the Definitive Voice
Suzanne wrote this book based off the questions she received from other people as well as the questions she had when she started the journey. It’s a combination of practical tips and her personal experiences. She also interviewed 90 people (30 captains and 60 other hitchsailers) who have done the same trip.
Her book is divided into four different sections: preparation, what to do during the trip, and what’s next after sailing, and about ocean conversation. Read the book as a buffet – no need to read from the beginning to end.
The research process involved doing it along the way. She did the interviews and asked for feedback from people. She also attended a program that helped writers.