My story, from the Beginning
Young, a little naïve but a thirst to see and experience the world, to step away from tradition and conformity, this is where my story begins. At the age of 17, I finished school and like most, felt pressure to continue studying, although I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I wanted to pursue.
Sitting outside by the fire one night, talking about life and my plans after school, it was actually my father who came up with the idea. Go sailing with Arnold and Coby… Arnold and Coby are my Aunt and Uncle who, over ten years, starting in Holland, had sailed half way around the world on their 47-foot sailboat ‘Drifter’, and were at the time visiting us in New Zealand. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. But just with the idea of it, my heart started beating faster, a big smile drew across my face, and my eyes became transfixed on the fire while my mind transported away to adventures on the high seas. He couldn’t be serious though... ‘Well, why not’ he said through a similar smile on his face. And it was in that moment I had decided, as it just felt right.
I worked and saved all the money I had, and in May 2011, with absolutely zero sailing experience, I set off on the biggest adventure of my life. We sailed 1100 nautical miles through the Pacific and after eight days at sea, we arrived in Fiji. My plan was to cruise around for a couple of months before catching my flight to backpack the east coast of Australia, but after a month in Fiji, I met Delos and her crew. Delos is a 53-foot sailing ketch, which at the time was home to three American dudes and a Swedish girl, with whom two of them, Brian and Brady, had previously sailed Delos over the course of two years from the States across the Pacific and just so happened to be in the same anchorage as I was. We hit it off, and a few weeks later, I cancelled my flight to Australia and literally jumped ship to call Delos my home.
Young, free and only a little wild, we continued sailing west, through Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands until, six months later we ended up in Australia as the season had ended and we were out of money. During the Pacific trip, we wrote many stories and tales of our sailing and cultural experiences which we shared on the Delos blog. A following began to build and people became immensely interested in our stories and adventures, wanting more. However we were out of money, and ready for a little bit of life on land, so we parked the boat, rented a tiny apartment in Melbourne and worked in jobs we didn’t really like, to save enough to go sailing again.
After a couple of trips home to see family and friends, beginning our next voyage, we travelled north around Australia, through the Spice Islands and Raja Ampat in Indonesia, before continuing into the Philippines. This season was when we really started getting into filming and documenting our adventures. I guess our time through the Pacific had inspired us profoundly; we wanted to capture and share our adventures in a bigger and better way. So we expanded from just writing blogs, to also creating videos about our travels for YouTube. Little did I know, it would grow and evolve the way it did. The creative aspects of videography and photography came into light for me during this trip and seeing the success and growth that was happening, really opened my eyes into the reality of the lifestyle and opportunities for the individual film maker that could be obtained through social media.
After eight months or so of full on adventure, Brady and I were once again out of money. After pondering our choices while being ‘stuck’ in the Philippines, we were lucky enough to manifest a job helping deliver a 115-foot Super yacht from Malaysia 5000 nautical miles back to New Zealand over the course of a couple of months. Once completed, we landed another Super yacht job as crew on a beautiful 100-foot sloop that was to do a six month season in the Pacific; leaving New Zealand, travelling north to Fiji, west to Vanuatu and New Caledonia before returning back to New Zealand. I was familiar with the first part of this trip, but it was incredible to experience it again from a totally different perspective.
We returned from our Super yacht stint with some saved coin, and at this point, it had been about 3.5 years and around 20,000 nautical miles since embarking on my first journey with my Aunt and Uncle. Although one must sacrifice a lot for a life on the sea, I could definitely feel the positive influences it was having on my life and my growth as a human being. Now, again, it was time to head home briefly to visit family and friends, before the next and probably biggest adventure I experienced with Delos. Sailing across the Indian Ocean.
During the time Brady and I were working on Super yachts, Brian and Karin had stayed on Delos, sailed her over many months through South East Asia and spent countless hours working and establishing Delos as a project to continue to grow and inspire. By the time we rejoined them in Malaysia in early 2015, our YouTube channel had grown immensely, and we were also generating some income from Patreon; an ongoing crowd-funding site for artists and creators. We were almost self-sufficient as a floating production studio.
Our plan was to cross the Indian Ocean, stopping first in Thailand, then the Andaman Islands, Cocos Keeling, Chagos and Madagascar before heading to South Africa. It was a 7000 nautical mile journey and not one to be taken lightly; the Indian Ocean is pretty notorious and unlike the Pacific, not the best ‘cruising’ grounds. We had seven crew for the season, the most we had ever had for a prolonged period of time, and although it was a bit of a tight squeeze, it bought a totally fresh, new dynamic to the boat and our videos. An incredible time and a real adventure, but it was also during this trip that my spirit swayed in search of more alignment.
In the same way that our sailing lifestyle and the production of our videos had evolved, so did I as a person, and the seed for Ramatree was planted during the beginning of this trip.
This carried with me through our whole voyage across the Indian Ocean. However, no matter your material possessions, so called success, ties to a particular group, tradition, or way of life, to follow ones passion and get closer to ones truth is ultimately what guided me into wholeheartedly pursuing Ramatree. And to establish and grow my tree of life in full blossom and in full freedom, I decided to leave Delos and embark on my own. No doubt it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but out of the creation of Ramatree; a small seedling, how could I defy the very root of what I had created? The natural laws. To move with the flow and ease of the natural world and to not think about what is right or wrong, but to feel it.
And so it was decided. I was leaving everything that I was a part of creating and everything that I knew. I was scared beyond belief of the unknown, but also nurtured by the fact that it was the right thing to do for me. And by following the right thing to do for me, I was following my heart. And however frightening, following ones heart cannot lead you astray.
So once we arrived in Madagascar, I began a very long journey back home to New Zealand. It was a time to be reborn. I spent a year and a half at home, first healing and then growing. What at the time seems dark, muddy, confusing and lost, can be a tree or a flower breaking through the dirt, and only once out into the sunshine to grow and blossom, can it see the time beforehand as vital and nurturing.
Feeling the warmth of the sun on my face now, I have embarked once again on a nomadic journey, this time on land. With me I carry my backpack, a couple of cameras, and an always-enquiring mind.
Through sailing our oceans, exploring our mama earth and experiencing culture and our people, I have become profoundly intrigued with us, as human beings and our connection with nature. This notion inspires why I do what I do. Art to me is a form of expressing all that I feel and is a way to convey it, however abstract. In an open sense, Ramatree encompasses my creativity, and is the space where I can create freely. It represents the independent and collective creator and through my art, portrays my philosophy. If art can make you feel something, if it makes you look at something in a different way, or encourage you to expand yourself and find connection to your truth, to me, that is true art, in whatever form it may come.