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Nomad Ocean Crew: “Sailing is a Great Lecture of Trust and Going with the Flow”

Exclusive interview with Doris and T.A.; from the end of October 2017 until April 2018, they'll circumnavigate New Zealand to raise awareness for marine protection

Doris is a freelance journalist. T.A., a marine biologist. Together they created Nomad Ocean Project. From the end of October 2017 until April 2018, they’ll circumnavigate New Zealand in a 26 foot sailing boat Kahu. They want to connect with people, share stories and raise awareness for marine protection. We met them.

Please, tell us something more about you and how you two met?

T.A.: We met over a passion for coffee and a shared vision of a sustained world.

Doris: That´s the short answer, yes. The longer one is that we met in a coffee shop in Mount Maunganui in the Bay of Plenty. I had just arrived a week earlier after traveling around New Zealand. I needed a base to do some work as a freelance journalist. A few days after the first encounter, T.A. invited me to a BBQ at his house. Well, and the rest is history as they say…

sail universe nomad ocean
(c) Doris Neubauer

Why did you set up Nomad Ocean?

Doris: When we met at the end of 2016, we shared a similar outlook on the world. We both have done a lot of time traveling 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 community to establish marine protection.

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 traveled to the islands, but she is one of the best coastal cruisers and therefor, exactly what we wanted: Not too big to be hard to handle, and not too small to handle the strong coastal environment.
sail universe nomad ocean
(c) Doris Neubauer
What’s the “trick” to live together in a small boat?

T.A.: I think Doris would say I don´t listen to her. Mine would be I listen to everything. That´s the fun answer. The serious answer is whatever she says it´s right.

Doris: That´s not true.

T.A.: But they don´t need to know that. They don´t need to know that the captain is always right.


Doris: I don´t know if there is a “trick”. We normally get over issues pretty fast and are quite patient with each other. The small space does become a challenge though, when both of us have to work and focus. T.A. has to make a lot of phone calls, and I just cannot write with this background noise. But so far, we have managed to survive. Other than that it is more about giving each other space even where there hardly is one. This said, we not only live on our tiny boat, but we are lucky to have such a vast blue backyard around us which we love to explore. So even if the boat is small, we have plenty of space.

sail universe nomad ocean
(c) Doris Neubauer

Who is the… captain?!

Doris: As T.A. is the one with more sailing experience, he definitely is the captain on board. He also is the mechanic, the chef … we keep on joking that I am basically just here for decoration 🙂

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.
sail universe nomad ocean
(c) Doris Neubauer

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 of the coast and away from the anchorage.

What is the innovation of marine protection that you are working on?

T.A.: We have been developing a new approach to marine protection be 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 qualitites, landscape and Maori cultures and customs.

Our classic final question: what does sailing mean for you?

T.A.: … it means an intimate relationship with the natural world that enables a shared reliance on the flow of the environment.

Doris: For me, sailing is a great lecture of trust and going with the flow. You might have a plan, but if the conditions are not good, you just have to let go and enjoy the moment.

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