Welcome to another installment of Meet The Explorers. Today, we meet The Ambtman Family from the Netherlands! (Photo credit: Olav Hasselknippe)
Tell us about your intended cruising route and how long will you be at sea?
We left from the Netherlands in August 2017. Our journey takes us across the Bay of Biscay to Spain and Portugal from where we will spring across to Morocco on our way to the Canary Islands. From here we will travel to the Gambia and then on to Cabo Verde. We will arrive there at the end of November and get ready to make our Atlantic crossing at the beginning of December, New Year in Suriname, visit some Caribbean Islands and start making our way North along the Eastern seaboard in April, arrive in Canada sometime in June of 2018 which leaves us a few months to do exploring over there. Newfoundland, Labrador, Greenland maybe?
Who will you have on board?
Our sailing vessel ‘Dutch’ will be crewed by ourselves, parents Rhiannon and Sebastiaan and our daughter Emma (11) and son Macsen (9).
Will you prepare any differently with children on board? Any tips for others thinking about an ocean crossing with their young family?
With kids on board safety, entertainment and learning need to be treated with significant consideration. From a safety perspective we have various standard lifesavings equipment, clear and consistent rules for movement on the boat and for the use of our lifejackets and safety lines. We try to lead by example and the rules that apply to the children’s safety are consistent with those for ourselves.
Keep the kids entertained particularly when we are on an ocean crossing is challenging. We keep lots of art supplies, games, projects (eg. sample collection and labelling, scrapbooks, video and written journals) and books (and yes, some movies) on board. We try hard to involve them as much as possible in helping with the boat, navigation, docking etc. Our son was particularly excited to be woken at 0300 on our passage across the Bay of Biscay to help with a watch!
Homeschooling is both a wonderful gift and a challenge. We have support from the ‘Wereldschool’ in the Netherlands for the basics reading, writing, arithmetic. In addition, we try to be very conscious of the learning potential of each activity where we take part. Sailing the boat can help us to learn weather and physics, a hike up the mountain offers great opportunities for biology, a visit to a new country offers history and culture and of course, testing our ocean waters helps us to learn about the scientific process, the importance of our oceans to life on earth and how we can each contribute. In short, traveling with the kids is helping us to be more aware and we try hard to keep exploring and learning and have a heightened awareness of the learning potential of each activity. This also helps to keep our journey entertaining!
Tell us a bit about your mighty sailboat!
We are sailing on a Boreal 44 named ‘Dutch’ that was designed and built in France. It has an aluminium hull and a retractable centre board so that we can anchor even in shallow waters. One of the great features of the boat is its pilot house. This makes it a very comfortable boat for long distance sailing. The boat has three cabins so each of our children has a little place of their own.
What inspired your voyage?
From 2009-2011 we took our first journey with our Breehorn 37 sailboat named Pjotter (www.pjotterpassages.com ). Our children were 3 years and 10 months old when we left the Netherlands. We promised ourselves upon our return to the Netherlands that we would share this experience with them as a family again when they were old enough to appreciate it and still young enough to appreciate us.
Follow along with the Ambtman Family on www.sydutch.com or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sydutch
2 years, 24,000 miles, and 6 continents. Legendary explorer Mike Horn set out on his boldest feat yet: walk, sail and drive from one pole to the other. Along the way, he’ll be collecting seawater samples for The Indigo Project from some of the most understudied parts of the world. Mike is lending a hand in our mission to better track ocean health. During this daring expedition, Mike will attempt to become the first person to journey over the globe from Pole to Pole.
Mike set out on his Pole 2 Pole expedition earlier this year from Monaco. His journey took him down to South Africa where he set out on his sail down to Antarctica. We caught up with Mike for his sail from Antarctica to Sydney, Australia, where he collected samples from the Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean, a hugely productive sea, but a veritable black box as far as our knowledge of the marine microbiome is concerned.
Continuing on from there, Mike will continue his sampling transect in Australia, collecting vital data from The Tasman Sea, just east of Tasmania, including the East Australia Current and then onto to New Zealand.
You can follow his progress here!
Rachelle was the invited evening speaker at the Oxford Nanopore Community Meeting the Manhattan Pavilion. As this is a meeting of some very brilliant scientists, she was tasked with the job of lightening the mood during drinks hour and right before dinner. She presented the real heart of our program by talking about the beauty of our oceans and the animals that live in it. She presented an famous inspirational image by National Geographic Explorer Brian Skerry of a Southern Right Whale meeting a Scuba diver eye-for-eye.
She then gave the same talk at Oxford Nanopore HQ in Oxford, UK, a few weeks later. She couldn’t help but add in a short 30 second clip of a near knockdown she and captain Federico struggled with last year on their UNESCO sponsored Indian Ocean Expedition passage from Chagos Archipelago to La Reunion. No matter what you’re talking about, there’s always room for a little excitement!
We’re excited to announce our partnership with the clever folks over at Oxford Nanopore Technologies, who are rolling out the world’s first ever pocket sized DNA sequencer. This will usher in a new chapter in the world of real time data analysis. It will also change the face of field work as we’re all used to it: cumbersome sample preservation, tedious sample shipping and long wait times to a final result.
During our Indian Ocean Expedition, and coupled with the MinION, we will be able to produce the first ever real time microbiome analysis across the entire Indian Ocean. In short, we will be able to tell if the building blocks to ocean health and the food web is healthy or not. The only limiting factor now? No internet to share our results!
By democratizing sequencing, scientists and researchers are no longer limited to huge expensive equipment to run their experiments or field samples. MinION has already been sent to rainforests, Guinea and is set to take a flight on the International Space Station. Now, its off to the open ocean.