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March 30, 2019 3 min read

Why a constantly moving ship is the best place to solve a sustainability quest

Everything was constantly moving, falling or wet. People, laptops and a million post-its with creative ideas (good and bad ones) flying through and over the ship. Was this really the most efficient way to work on a business case?


 Picture by Mara de Pater

Over the past 6 weeks, I have been part of a sustainability think tank. But not just an ordinary one: a sailing one. Together with 17 other young professionals and students, I crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Our mission: to help a big technology company in the Netherlands become more sustainable and with that: inspire and motivate installers to drive the energy transition.

None of us had ever crossed an ocean before (not even the crew) - let alone, work on a sustainability quest while being swept around, pulling ropes and being attacked by waves. When I registered for this project it all sounded magical. Reality kicked in rather quickly as we sailed away from the sunny Caribbean island St. Martin: waves got up to 10 meters high. I was in no way prepared for that: I felt like I was in the middle of a mountainous landscape: mountains of water. The ship kept moving up and down and with that: seasickness came to us. For a couple of days, most people were accompanied by their own bucket - just to be sure.


Picture by Mayeul VdB

As the waves kept growing taller and taller, the wind got stronger as well. A wind speed of 11 Beaufort made us fly through the ocean with a speed of 14 knots. During our watches we were responsible for navigating, steering, setting sails, taking sails away, packing sails, bracing sails and pulling ropes. My favorite part: climbing in the mast to pack or unpack the sails. It’s quite an adrenaline rush to be 25 meters up in the mast!

Under these circumstances, we were working hard to come up with strategies to accelerate the energy transition. 18 likeminded people with a passion for sustainability and motivated to beat issues related to climate change. The roughness of the journey felt metaphorical to the challenges of climate change. Taking steps towards a more sustainable society is not going to be easy, it’s going to be bumpy and challenging.


Picture by  Zosia Lasocka 
This experience showed me how much people can do when they work together. Disconnected from our homes and distraction, we became more creative and learned to trust each other. Rules like: never start a sentence with ‘no’ or ‘but’, ‘if you could have thought of this idea in an office - think again’ and ‘there is no box’ guided us across the ocean. Inspire the people around you and be inspired, motivate and mobilize a community to achieve goals that you cannot achieve alone. To beat seasickness and scary big waves. To beat climate change and to accelerate the energy transition.

The ocean is a beautiful place and it made me realize how big our world is. The challenges that we face today are crossing boundaries and so are we. Boundaries between countries and boundaries between people. The first step towards change is like a drop of water falling in an ocean of water. When a drop falls, a ripple is created. Turning into a wave. Anyone can create this wave, anywhere. It will grow as more people start to believe in the change. And together we can make the wave reach the other side of the ocean.


Picture by Joke Laporte 

Weekendbee made it possible for me to participate in this project without getting cold and I want to thank them for their support! This experience taught me that alternative and sustainable ways of traveling are way more fun than conventional ways and I will continue to do so. I hope this story inspired you to always look for the sustainable option, but also to always find adventure.


Story by Maike Brinksma