My sailing ‘career’ and aspirations did not start at a very young age and it is probably a bit different from most yachties! Growing up with my twin brother we got to the age where my parents understandably said that ‘we should do something fun on Saturday’. So off to the sea-scouts we went.
My first experience with sailing wasn’t my best one. Howling winds, boat heeling over and my fingernails firmly planted in my brother’s knee. However, something sparked and I wanted to come back for more! I was with the scouts for many years, and during this time I gradually moved towards more sailing as my family got hooked as well, taking my brother and myself on sailing vacations in Holland and the Mediterranean.
I have very fond memories of my time at the scouts and it made me realize that sailing is something I want to do as a profession. So, after high school, I tried to find out how this could be achieved. A former instructor recommended the RYA and after some research I found a school in the Solent which offered the three months course and exam. Those months were some of the best months of my life. Not only was it fun and rewarding, but it also opened up the door to the amazing life I'm able to live today.
After obtaining the YachtMaster qualifications, I got the opportunity to be part of a Dutch sailing adventure for 3 months, going from Holland, along the European coast, to the Azores and back. I was in charge of the planning, skippering and crewing on the various legs. And after I obtained my instructors license, I started working for a Dutch company. In 2015, I got the offer to teach for a RYA school in beautiful Greece, which is where I currently still live with the love of my life and doing what I love doing most!
So why 'The Dutchess'?
It started as a fun nickname during my courses, but it quickly became more significant to me. I realised that 'The Dutchess' would be a great way for me to express and ‘pass on’ my passion for sailing, the feeling it gives me, the pleasure of it and rewards that follows.
Sailing is enormously fun and gratifying when it’s done in a safe way. The Dutchess is a way for me to share my knowledge and make sailing available for everyone.
My family got an IF when I was still in the cradle and sailing was an integral part of growing up. Summers were often spent going away on sailing vacations and day trips in Öresund, and the yacht club was almost a second home. I got my first Optimist at the age of 8 and started racing actively when I was 11, swapping over to Laser a few years later. Although achieving some good results, I can’t really claim that it qualified all the way to Pro and when I was 18, I put sailing on the shelf for some time, only going out occasionally on sailing trips with friends and crewing on club races every now and then.
It is nice to have a good education as it gives opportunity to a good job, which gives an opportunity to get a house, a car, a dog and a retirement plan. So as a young adult I tried out a few different courses at university and ended up as an Air Traffic Controller Assistant. While waiting for the full ATC course to start, we were offered to take a year of absence. I went to Australia at the age of 24. Within the first week I knew that I wanted to get a job on a boat in the Whitsunday islands, and 3 months later I was working for OzSail. Needless to describe how awesome my 6 months there were, the important realisation for me was that one actually CAN have sailing as a permanent profession. No one had ever told me before. So I really got a taste of it, but I decided to pursue my land based profession for a bit longer still.
However, it wasn’t long before the bug bit me again. I quit the job, packed my bags and went to the Caribbean for 3,5 years. I managed to buy a 29ft race boat and was planning to do a fun and fast-paced Caribbean cruise and making a documentary of the trip. Hurricane Earl disagreed and the project came to a stop with some damage to my little boat. Not having the money to support my dream, I left the boat and the Caribbean.
Some random jobs followed along with a bit of travelling, and when I was 33 I decided that I should finally do sailing on a professional level. After all, I had been dreaming of it long enough. So after a bit of investigation, I made the decision to go for commercially endorsed YachtMaster through RYA, along with YM Power and Cruising Instructor.
Best decision of my life, I have to say.
It lead me to delivery, charter, flotilla and instructing jobs in the UK, Caribbean and Mediterranean. It led me to live more permanently in beautiful Greece, working for a superb little charter company and sail training centre. I’ve grown and learned more about the ocean, yachts and myself in the last years than I ever have before. I met a wonderful woman, who is also a YachtMaster and an instructor and who shares the same passion for sailing as I do. And together we strive towards new goals, new dreams and new horizons.
I have this picture of where I’m 13 and standing at the helm of Big T with the biggest smile on my face, and Magnus Olsson is right next to me grinning at my exhilaration. He signed the photo and wished me luck on applying for upcoming Whitbreads (now the VOR), which I was hell-bent on doing back then. It is probably one of the finest items I own and that photo is a reminder of the ambitions I had as a kid. It is inspiring me to pursue my aspirations in sailing as an adult. Maybe even more so now, as the passion for it has become a way of living. And regardless what will happen in the future or the outcome of all those goals, I know that I belong on the water. This is not just a hobby. This is not just a profession.
This is my life.