Southampton boat show entrance sign

A World Oceans Day Inspired Interview

June 8 2020

After meeting in 2019 at a British Marine event Helena and I got on instantly. Initiated by our love for sailing, driven by our desire to promote women in marine and cemented by our passion for sustainability and the impact of the yachting industry on the environment.

Sparked by this month’s World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, although separated by many miles, we got together for a much needed chat about Helena’s Freedom 2 Be project and much more.

What made you want to start the Freedom 2 Be journey?

It was a very organic process, in which over the last 10 years I developed a high sensibility towards the fragility of our world as we know it. There were a lot of what the hell-moments at the start of the Freedom 2 Be project when I looked into sustainable cruising and soon, I realised that we can do so much better, and should do better! So, I rolled up me sleeves, put my reading glasses on and started nosing around UK marine businesses to see how and where we can increase our work for the ocean.

What is it about being on the water that you love?

The first thing that comes to my mind right now is that it is calm, so much calmer than anywhere else! Just now, there is minimum 594639573 thoughts on my mind, my main priorities are currently playing an intense game of chess, somewhere somebody shouts that we are hungry and then gets knocked out by someone who wants to do an ultra-marathon. Do you get the image?! This never happens at sea. Never. Ever.

At sea I experience pure clarity, the vastness of the space is humbling and healthy for a little ego check. I am in the moment, checking the wind, helming my beautiful girl, adjusting the sails, listening to the notices to mariners on the radio, scanning the horizon, talking to the dolphins that come and swim with me… if something is to be called divine, it should be this state of being. Just talking about it now makes me well up! How can we possibly mistreat this environment that treats us to moments of altered heights of being?!

Why you think the oceans are so important?

The oceans are a crucial part for the health of the planet we call home, and essentially for us. If the speed of ocean currents changes or the temperature of the same, we are having quite a situation, which is a huge understatement.

I am not a scientist, but I believe in science, and listening to people who have devoted their life to the protection of the ocean and the health of our environment. We know now that the earths lungs, are next to forests also the seas, we know that a large part of the human food chain depends on the ocean, and yet we keep polluting the same, we know that the acidity levels of the ocean are changing and yet we still release too high amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere! Without getting too spiritual and starting an energy flow yoga class right here and now- I believe that everything is actually connected, even more so in a globalised world- so looking at the state of the ocean makes us look at the state of humanity, and there are shockingly many parallels to be found. So why is it so important? Because it is a part of us!

What do you think we can do to take more care of our oceans?  

I think we can start with understanding the theory we just discussed. When we respect that everything is somehow connected, we realise that even in the middle of a continent, the throwing of a cigarette butt into a river, has a consequence. Most rivers flow into the sea, so looking at their health is crucial as well.

Currently I am still in Germany, in Düsseldorf by the river Rhine, and I know that the single use rubbish on the shores will end up next to Freedom and me at one point again when we sail the Ocean. This thought is nerve wrecking but opens huge amounts of possibility. Pick up your own rubbish and add the one of people who are not aware yet as well. Talk with people about the problem, try not to shout at litterers but make them aware of their responsibility!

See if you can help large NGOs to collect signatures to protect ocean sanctuaries, where fishing isn’t allowed, and the populations of endangered species can recover- every species lost has a huge impact on an ecosystem. There is so much we can do and have to do.

What is the first thing you will do when travel restrictions are lifted?

I will make my way home to my boat Freedom as quickly as I can. The love/ homesickness is real, and my worry is, that if I leave the cheese that I forgot in the fridge when I left the boat in such a mega hurry, is going to turn into a huge camembert that you can see from the international space station. (gross, I know! Especially for me who has a thorough appreciation for cleanliness!)

And after de-escalating the fridge disaster I will have to do some maintenance work, and then set sail asap. Just go downwind in some direction away from shore and have a good old cry and declare my love for Freedom… and sail into a beautiful sunset.

What are you plans next?

Currently I am trying to stay in the moment and try to make the most of every day. I have lots of plans for the rest of the year and beyond, but let’s just keep that four ourselves for a bit longer and see how the next couple of weeks go. But what I do know for a fact that I am going to use my creativity a lot more in my plans to create a safe future for our generation and the coming ones.

Find out more about Helena and the Freedom 2 Be journey here >>>