When we met at the end of 2016, we shared a similar outlook on the world. We both have done a lot of time travelling the world, seeing different aspects and the beauty of how the world worked. We both liked the idea of tiny space living and managed minimization, sustainability and finding alternative ways of living. T.A. was also engaged in advocating marine protection and adaptive means for the community to establish marine protection.
What does Nomad Ocean share?
We want to share the beautiful natural world in New Zealand and to give people a resource to experience this world differently.
T.A.: I had travelled extensively through New Zealand by road. Camping is a big thing in NZ. But he had mainly sailed in the Bay of Plenty and Hauraki Gulf, not that far, so I thought it would be a new experience. However, when we looked for information on sailing and cruising New Zealand, it was so limited and unreliable so we thought that this could be a good mix to share these insights about how epic the cruising is here and what the coastal community and marine life is like. We could also promote the importance of marine protection, the issues that are facing marine environment and some solutions what communities could do about their blue backyard.
Doris: Invite me on a trip, and I am in. This said it comes as no surprise that I was immediately hooked. Moreover, I was a bit tired of travelling as a nomad on land and had only seen the North Island of New Zealand, so discovering all the hidden gems of Aotearoa from this different angle was exactly what I needed.
Where are you cruising to in New Zealand?
We have some big cruising spots that we would like to go to, like Hauraki Gulf, Bay of Islands, Marlborough Sounds and Milford Sounds, as well as some of the amazing offshore islands such as Kapiti island, Tuhua Island and Great Mercury and Barrier Island.
Why do you do it by sailing and not drive?
T.A.: There is something about sailing, using the wind to propel you to your destination. you travel slower and see more. It is quiet and you feel as part of the environment.
Doris: For me, sailing is a great way to learn to trust the process, “the flow” T.A. calls it. The most important reason though is that we wanted to explore the less seen (and travelled) parts of New Zealand.
How much sailing have you done before?
T.A.: I had done sailing when I was younger, and my family had been a boating family. Kahu is my first Keeler but she is a great little boat that is extremely seaworthy.
Doris: Other than T.A. (and probably most of New Zealanders), I am quite a sailing newbie. I have previously been on day-long sailing trips on bigger and smaller yachts so I knew I would be alright on a boat. Apart from that, it´s a big learning process for me.
What do you do for work?
T.A.: I studied Marine Biology. I have been working as a consultant for a number of years in aquaculture and more recently as a Technical Advisor for the Motiti Rohemoana Trust in marine restoration ecology, which has allowed me to advocate for marine protection.
Doris: Coming from marketing and PR, I turned my passion for freedom, for travelling and sharing stories into my profession: For the last seven years, I have lived, worked and travelled as a blogger and journalist.
How do you get your money?
Doris: The question: “How can you finance all your travels?” is nothing new to me. I have worked location independently for a while already. I keep this work up during the trip.
Apart from that, the Nomad Ocean Project has been supported by many different contributors – from NGOs to individuals – from the very beginning. It is this support, your support, that makes this project possible. We work hard to deliver and share our insights to give back to our community.
What sort of boat is S.V. Kahu?
Kahu is a Raven 26. She is 26 foot but has all the comforts of a larger yacht. Built solid these boats from New Zealand are known for their seaworthiness. They have a strong owners association and a great community. It turned out a friend of T.A. actually volunteers to the owners association here in NZ.
These boats have had blue water experience and travelled to the islands, but she is one of the best coastal cruisers and therefore, exactly what we wanted: Not too big to be hard to handle, and not too small to handle the strong coastal environment.
What is it like living on a small yacht?
It is actually really nice, everything has its place. You realize how much you don’t need and what is important to living. It has its moments of course, and you have to be willing to become very intimate with those that are on board.
What do you do when you fight or have a disagreement?
T.A.: We seldom have disagreements, but when they arise it is best to talk it out. Sometimes you just need to let things settle before you engage in the problem. We are accepting people and believe that we can overcome the problem by critical and rational thinking.
Doris: That´s T.A.´s version. Most of the problems arise because I freak out because I am scared or feel overwhelmed. What I realized was that as I cannot escape, I need to overcome my issues faster. It just does not make sense, to be mad at each other when you have to cooperate and work together in a challenging environment like the ocean. For me, a great way to take some space to calm down is to sit and meditate for a while.
How do you overcome seasickness?
We don’t get sea sick but from time to time in rough conditions, we sometimes feel little under the weather. The best thing is to keep busy and focus on other things that need to be done.
What do you eat on Kahu?
T.A.: We eat like we normally do. We are pretty conscious eaters. When we are at sea, we tend to keep things simple. It is amazing what you can do with beans and a few herbs. We are developing a handbook for cruisers how to cook with only a couple of ingredients and limited space.
Doris: T.A. even bakes bread on board… He always surprises me with the most delicious dishes.
I have been a vegetarian since the age of 12 or so, but I do share the experience of eating fish when T.A. goes out spearfishing. I learned to understand the Maori approach of celebrating and appreciating the life force (= mauri) of the fish (= ike).
What do you do when you get stuck?
We adapt and learn. We have had a few incidents where we have been stuck. One that pops out was when we fouled our anchor at the Poor Knights in rough conditions. Sometimes it is better to sit tight and think it through. After a couple of days, the sea calmed down and we were able to dive the anchor which was dragged onto a 40m deep reef. We were very lucky that we could free and retrieve all of our ground tackle.
How do you try to live sustainably on board? How do you deal with waste and plastic?
We try not to take plastic with us, but in the modern world, it is sometimes difficult so we have a belief to reuse as much as possible or go without. Our fluent waste on Kahu is processed through an electric pump which minces the solid matter into a slurry. We have a holding tank where we can choose to discharge when we are off the coast and away from the anchorage.
What do you do in your spare time?
T.A.: I have always been connected to the ocean, and my family have strong links to marine activities. I surfed from a young age, so I spent my childhood at the beach. Recreational Fishing and diving was a big part of growing up in New Zealand.
Doris: I travel with my yoga mat and love to take in the quiet moments. Another mission I have is to (finally) improve my Ukulele skills. So stay tuned…
What does Maori culture mean to you?
T.A.: I am part Maori the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand. It makes up our identity and enriches the New Zealand story. The Maori worldview underpins the New Zealand culture with many of the traditions and customs transcending to the wider New Zealand community.
What does Marine protection mean to you?
Marine protection is more than just the protection of marine life. By protecting the marine life we preserve the lifestyle that the marine spaces support. We can integrate the Maori world with the management of local marine spaces. The most important aspect is to provide for our community connection and to maintain the marine system so that it provides for future generations.
What is the innovation of marine protection that you are working on?
T.A.: We have been developing a new approach to marine protection by enabling local communities to engage in sharing values which are important to them through the Resource Management Act (RMA) of New Zealand. We believe that there is more to the marine environment than just fishing and that the marine space provides values such as recreation, intrinsic and environmental qualities, landscape and Maori cultures and customs.
What is wrong with the Fisheries Act?
T.A.: In contrast to the RMA, the Fisheries Act is a specific act related to the activity of sustaining fishing pressure on the marine environment. It has facilitated the degradation and loss of the treasures of the ocean such as a community relationship with certain marine life. For example, inshore grouper (hapuku) and other species which were abundant when I grew up have now depleted due to the way we fish.
Will this approach to marine protection have benefits for other places in the world?
Many countries have resource management laws and fisheries regulations. This does have the potential to provide a pathway for other communities to share values which preserve the relationship with the ocean.
Is climate change important to your marine protection approach?
T.A.: Climate change is the challenge of our generation. I believe that the ocean is the most productive environment on the planet. If we protect the marine space we will buffer the effects of climate change significantly. Our approach enables communities to be part of that solution and to actively engage in the issue. However, climate change requires a massive effort to turn the tide, this includes protection of the ecological services of the environment but also requires us to change our relationship with the consumption of the environmental resources. We need to have a serious look at how we use the resources we take and discharge.
Is marine plastic a big deal in New Zealand?
T.A.: Every day I walk along our local beach I find plastic. I have surfed in some of the most isolated places in New Zealand and find plastic. It is a massive problem that is visible, and our community is waking up to our collective influence on the ocean.
How can people follow your journey?
Apart from this website, we share our adventures on Social Media and our YoutubeChannel. Moreover, we regularly post on Skippers.TV and SailUniverse.