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Tuomo Meretniemi: “How we will sail six years around the world with three kids”




Sail For Good expedition is a private non-profit initiative based on a sailing adventure around the world during 2016-2022 by a Meretniemi family from Finland with three children. The goal is to experiment new ways to utilize technology and digital learning methods to enable education for all children anywhere, anytime. We met Tuomo Meretniemi, the captain (and father, of course!) of this adventure!
Photo Juuso Hämäläinen
Photo Juuso Hämäläinen

Why did you decide to create the project “Sail for good”?
It was clear from the start that we don´t just want to go sailing but we want to do something valuable and worthwhile on the way. We thought that since we do need to take care of our own kids´ education, we could create something around education that would also benefit the others, maybe the children in the countries along our route. We want to raise awareness about the possibilities of utilizing technology in education in order to make it possible anywhere. We also feel very strongly that now is the last moment to help our seas. Ocean conservation will be the other theme besides education in Sail For Good project.

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How did you organize the entire project? You have a lot of partners!
In the beginning we of course had no clue how that could be done. We are not teachers. We studied business, for god´s sake. I´m strongly dyslexic and certainly had my share of troubles with school. We didn´t let that stop us, but we started contacting educational technology companies with an idea in mind of creating future digital school in out boat. It has taken plenty of time, hundreds of emails and phone calls. Now we have gathered together over 20 companies in an ecosystem type project and are also co-operating with governmental export organizations in Finland. Main partners in Sail For Good Education are Lenovo, Claned Group, 3 Step IT and Microsoft. We also work with many companies and do different kinds of promotional and social media actions for them. Helly Hansen is our partner and we are very happy to wear their clothes and gear around the world.

Photo Jari Salo
Photo Jari Salo

You have three children. Reading your site http://www.sailforgood.org really seems that they are at the center of the project. How did you prepared the family life on board?
We have been sailing 25 years together with my wife Riikka. Kids have been on a boat since birth and we have now been sailing about four months with them in the Mediterranean, mainly in Turkey and Greece. Sometimes it is fantastic to sail with kids, but it can also be catastrophically difficult. We discuss daily about the “long journey” and kids have gotten accustomed with the idea. I think it will be fine. 

Photo Juuso Hämäläinen
Photo Juuso Hämäläinen
You will utilize technology and digital learning methods to enable education for your children: can you explain what is it?
We are working with our partners to set up complete digital school in our boat. This includes own servers and other hardware, learning platforms, plenty of educational content, applications and learning games. We also work with Finnish distance learning school Kulkuri and part of the teaching will happen over Skype. Finland is a country with very good educational system and we will follow the new and revolutionary Finnish national curriculum that also emphasizes the importance of digitalization in education.


Please, tell us about Panacea.
Our boat Panacea is a Swan 57 (sloop) designed by Sparkman & Stephens. She was built in Pietarsaari, Finland by the world famous Nautor in 1982. The previous owner completed a refit in 2006 with new teak decks etc. but there was still lot to do to make her fit for this kind of cruise. We bought Panacea in 2012 after a long search. All electronics have now been replaced with new gear and we have modified the mast configuration to make it easier to handle. List of works we have completed is so long, I don´t dare to think about. 

Photo Jari Salo
Photo Jari Salo

Six years around the sea are so many… there is a bit of fear?
Well, six years is a long time but only about one year will be actual sailing days. We will spend longer times in many places for example 4 months in New Zeeland. We have prepared ourselves by discussing with many professionals like doctors, risk analysts teachers and of course many sailors who have done similar trips. Long time frame enables us to plan longer passages whenever there are favorable weather conditions. 
Photo Jari Salo
Photo Jari Salo

Finally, our unmissable question: if we say “sail” what do you think?
Family and freedom. Our dream is to be the most followed and influential family sailing project in the world. We feel that sharing our adventures will multiple our own experiences and hopefully inspire others to do the same. This is why we will be very active in all social media channels; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Youtube

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