From 2006-2009 Nick Jaffe sailed a 26-foot sailboat from Europe to Australia, via the Atlantic ocean, Rocky Mountains & Pacific, a total of 743 days – not letting a few minor details get in the way of his plans, like the fact that he had no money, and didn’t know how to sail. He did it – mostly – solo. Last year he sailed from San Francisco to Sydney in his boat Harmony.
His website says he is interested in independent small business, meaningful living, decentralisation, freedom, non-corporatism, transparency, community oriented economies, creativity, solo sailing, the ocean, risk, and wildness.
Nick and I have been in touch since 2010, and he kindly hosts my website on his Serversaurus servers. If you look at their website you’ll see that they will plant a tree for every like and follow they get, which says a lot about the way Nick does business. He also created an earlier website for me, and I used a special app he had created to allow me to send Tweets from the Pacific – it’s surprisingly complicated to post Tweets from the ocean – and his Nomaddica app that allowed supporters to sponsor a mile of my Indian Ocean crossing. Nick has always been an absolute pleasure to work with, so I was delighted to welcome him to the Adventure Podcast.
“The ocean is the last bastion of human freedom.” (Nick Jaffe)
In the era of Edward Snowden and Big Data (or should that be Big Brother?), there is a growing number of people concerned that our every move is tracked – where we go, what we buy, who we email, who we call, and what websites we browse.
I am not sure whether the ocean attracts those who already rebel against authority and Big Brother-ism, or whether the ocean makes them so. I just know that the boating types that I have met include a higher-than-average percentage of those who prefer to escape authority’s ever-watchful eye.
The ocean demands a lot – tolerance, patience, courage, exceptional practicality and self-reliance – but what it gives in return is privacy, independence, and freedom from authority and observation.
Health and safety regulations seem utterly irrelevant at sea in a small boat. That is to say – health and safety are absolutely paramount, but the rules are set by Mother Nature, not by bureaucrats. Solo sailors (and rowers) are free to do whatever they want to do, bound only by respect for the forces of nature and their own survival instinct.
Hence the following clause in the rules for the upcoming Great Pacific Rowing Race, starting 7th June from Monterey (to which I am Race Consultant):
“16.1 The Entrant acknowledges and agrees that ocean rowing is a dangerous sport and that he / she undertakes the Race at his / her own risk. There shall be no liability whatsoever upon the Race Organiser or any person in its employment (subject to any statutory requirement to the contrary) for death or any personal injury or financial loss directly or indirectly incurred by the Entrant by reason of the failure or foundering of a Boat or for any other reason.“
In other words, at sea you can be a hero or a damn fool – it is entirely up to you. But that freedom to act as you will is counterbalanced by the inevitability that you will reap the consequences of those actions.
Do we get the balance right? Freedom? Responsibility? Security? Privacy? What do you choose?
“We must seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom.”
-Anarchism & Marxism (Noam Chomsky)
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0:30 Catching up with Nick
3:00 How it all started, hanging out with his dad
5:30 Deciding to sail around the world
10:15 The importance of being naïve
12:00 The difference between dreamers and doers – how to make it out of the marina
14:50 A wobbly start
20:00 “Living life on the edge of luck” – did Nick ever feel at home on the ocean?
21:40 North America
25:15 Finance? Or freedom? The dilemma of sponsorship
30:00 Berkeley and beyond to Hawaii
32:30 The stowaway
36:00 Nick gets caught up in the tsunami
37:40 Arriving back in Australia
39:15 Filmmaking tips for the solo sailor
41:00 Entrepreneurship ashore – the Electron Workshop
42:30 Meaningful living
44:00 Selling Harmony
45:15 Staying in touch with Nick
Between Home – the movie