«Let's Not Be Assholes!»
Why I'm doing One & Ocean
I wrote this earlier this year, then I kept it in the drawer waiting for the right place to publish it. LinkedIn? no thanks. My personal blog? not ready yet. On Substack? if only I knew of Substack back then!
Here it is. My mission statement for One & Ocean. My commitment to start writing about my mission to inspire 100 million people to take action for Ocean Sustainability. And much more. To change from the inside and discover a greater life, being one with the Ocean and the Planet. Thank you for being here with me.
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6th June 2022
So here we are again. 4 months after a false start with Zan Zan that was blocked by storm Eunice which dismasted the boat while at the mooring, just the day before I had planned to set sails for the first time in the Solent.
No regrets though. There’s no point. Regrets are about things that happened or didn't happen, in the past. They are all in our head. Because the moment we live is now. And now, today is a new day!
Staying with regrets does not help you focus on what is really important in your life. And I am not talking about “the future” – I have something to say about that as well, but save it for another time. No, I’m talking about now. Better, the Now, the best and only time for you to change your future. The Now is when you take decisions and you start actions. It’s obvious when you think of it, but too often we prefer to stay in our thoughts. Thinking about the past, thinking about the future. And not acting.
Action is now. Now is action. Now is the seed of the future. Now is the seed of what we are going to become. The places we are going to be. The things we are going to make. Now is the seed of my One & Ocean expedition.
Today is a new day, I said. It’s the first day when I can think I fully transitioned into considering Harmony my new boat for this season. I managed to find her thanks to the insurance guys who used her ad online as proof that Zan Zan was worth less than what she was insured for.
Regardless of her advertised price, she appeared to be the perfect companion for this season to replace Zan Zan, with some benefit. The benefit being a deeper keel and some onboard instrumentation that Zan Zan entirely lacked. So welcome Harmony!
This weekend I went to complete Harmony’s purchase on Saturday and to empty Zan Zan on Sunday. A few things remain to do so that I will be able to bring Harmony from the Medway to the Solent, which include selling Zan Zan’s to use the same mooring for Harmony.
Intermezzo. While I was writing the last sentence I had a thought… is it wise to use the same mooring? Won’t it be a bad omen for the new boat? See how easy it is to get into distracting thoughts, mainly driven by fear, which try to make your life more difficult for unsubstantial reasons. Sure, if the accident was caused by the mooring, I should think twice, but it was caused by the storm, so just watch the thought without listening to it or getting carried away by it. And carry on with your business instead!
Now is the seed of all the things I am going to do, achieve, become. What seeds will I sow today? I will use the seeds that 2 great coaches gave me last Friday and yesterday, Cat Preston and David Alison. Or actually made me uncover. Coaches help you uncover the seeds that you need to sow. Because you have it already all inside.
You are like a child who knows what to do in every moment, unstoppable and unhindered by fears or restrictions. Actually you are the child that you used to be. You still are and s/he lives in you, hidden under a mountain of self-created armour.
Children are free spirits who act out of will and, when very young, unhindered by doubts or restrictions. All our armour of “rules” were created to protect us from suffering. But at what a price. As a child you learned that to be safe in the world you have to be careful of many many things. You actually learned to be afraid of things, situations, people, to protect yourself from suffering. Some of these things are self learned, some others are forced upon us by society. Some are to protect from physical pain, many others are to protect from psychological pain.
We take these fears for granted and we also disguise them as strengths. Who is the arrogant person if not someone who is afraid of not being good enough and has to enforce a self-perception of strength?
But I am going off topic. Now is when I start building the future. Now is when I start building One & Ocean. Now is when I start writing about it and engage with all the people that I will need to jump onboard with me, if I want this expedition to be a success. Now is when I build upon whatever I already built yesterday and keep growing. As someone said, now is the first day of the rest of your life.
So, now it’s clear that I have to build a tribe around One & Ocean. A tribe of people who are fascinated by my mission and want to be part of it. My mission. I always loved the Ocean. I've been swimming, diving, sailing since before I can remember. I have sailed on ships since before I could walk. My father was a captain and my mum and I would join him on a ship every time he was sailing around Europe.
There’s a picture of myself at 2 on a bridge, dressed like a captain. I sailed on the first Italian container ship in the early Seventies. I spent summers around the Mediterranean, on watch with my dad. Learning to fix the ship’s position on a chart, plot navigation routes, read a radar. These are my fondest memories with my dad, of which I am profoundly grateful to him.
We’ve always taken the Ocean for granted. Even when we realised we were harming the atmosphere in the Eighties and we took measures to reduce our impact – remember what a big deal the Ozone hole was? – the Ocean seemed impervious to change, we could throw everything at it and it would take it.
Well, we overdid it and now we are observing the massive changes that are happening to both the atmosphere and the ocean. We realised, very late, that also the Ocean is changing and its change affects the entire planet. The Ocean profoundly affects the climate and is affected by it.
You can realise the magnitude of influence the Ocean has over the planet if you think at how air and sea temperature change during a normal day. Air changes temperature much more quickly, warmer during the day and cooler during the night, as an effect of the sun warming it and the land. But the sea temperature changes only marginally. It takes much longer to change the sea temperature than the air. Which means that any big change we produce on the Ocean is much more difficult to reverse. The Ocean collapsing is our planet collapsing.
The passion for the sea and the observation that we are massively affecting the Ocean sparked in me my mission.
I want to inspire 100 million people to take individual and collective action for Ocean sustainability.
I observed that we feel powerless when faced with the consequences of the massive change we are causing to the planet. We feel it is beyond us to stop the change. We barricade ourselves behind the excuse that it’s too big an issue for a single person to address. Yet we forget that the environmental changes we are witnessing are caused by our collective action as humans. We are collectively destroying the planet and we say we can’t do anything about it individually.
Let’s stop being assholes! Since when I was a child, anytime I would see someone misbehaving – being an asshole – I would tell them, call them out. I did respect authority, but when authority was wrong I would say it loud. Then I learned to keep quiet, to avoid troubles, but now and then I would just do it again. It felt like a limitation, a weakness, a “what’s wrong with you” till I realised that is my inner child talking, unafraid of the consequences, because you can’t just stay put and look at bad things happening.
That’s why I started to call out the assholes again. And this time it’s about ourselves. Let’s stop being assholes! We know that many behaviours of ours have a negative impact on the planet. But we keep doing them. Because it’s more convenient. Because we don’t see viable alternatives. Because “we can’t do anything about it.” Because “it’s all in the hands of governments and big companies.”
True, there are big assholes out there who are knowingly destroying the planet for their own benefit. The company’s benefit. Which in turn is the shareholders benefit. Which in turn is the big pension funds. Which in turn is us. We are allowing big companies to destroy the planet because in the end it benefits us. Financially. But what’s the use of money on a planet falling into pieces?
Most of the people don’t even realise this. They – we – are just at the mercy of consumption. We allow ourselves to be at its mercy. It is our choice. It is our choice to consume more and more because life feels better if we do so. With the only result that it actually starts feeling worse and worse when we think we miss the next thing.
And we keep burning fossil fuels, because what else can you do? We are happy to own one, two, three cars, and use them as a representation of our worth. We are happy to burn gasoline to show our cars around.
Let’s stop being assholes! What can we do to reduce our negative impact on the planet? To reduce our carbon footprint? It’s not just about “them” the big companies. It’s about us, who consume what the big companies feed us. Can we reduce the miles we drive our fossil fuel car? Can we use public transportation? Can we go by bike? Can we avoid flying just because it’s cheap? Do we really need to do our bucket list of places to visit?
Every product we buy that was produced abroad, has a carbon footprint built into its transportation from the place of origin to our doorstep. We can blame shipping companies for polluting the air by burning tons of fossil fuel every day to move the ships around. But why do the ships travel in the first place? To ship the goods we buy from other countries to feed our consumerism.
I’m not advocating autarchic economies. I’m pointing my finger to excess consumption of things we don’t need and yet we buy, which need to be transported across the globe.
I could go on and on and on by reminding ourselves, let’s not be assholes. Let’s not put our immediate benefit before our future wellbeing. The wellbeing of our future generations. The wellbeing of the planet.
All this came into play when I decided I want to inspire 100 million people to take action for Ocean Sustainability. Because I love the Ocean. Because I love humanity. Because I see that we are harming the planet while blinded by our perceived growing needs. Because I see we are not assholes, but we behave as such. Let’s stop being assholes!
How can I help people wake up to this call? 100 million people! And where does the 100 million figure come from? For me it’s big enough and just shy of feeling overwhelming as one billion would do. I actually started much smaller. I wanted to inspire 1 million people to take individual and collective action for Ocean Sustainability.
In 2021 I had the opportunity to run TEDxCowes. I had very little time to organise it and even less money to do it. I didn’t know if I would have succeeded, but I wanted to produce a number of talks with great speakers, to inspire 1 million people to take individual and collective action for Ocean Sustainability.
I was very lucky to meet 7 speakers who jumped in at the opportunity to give a TEDx talk and I coached them for their talks. The subject was Ocean Sustainability and I asked them not only to say something original and interesting. “Ideas worth sharing” as TED organisers call them. I asked my speakers to add an actionable message into their talks, to inspire people to take individual and collective action for Ocean Sustainability.
I wanted the talks to inspire 1 million people to action. “Actions worth taking.” And the speakers were great, they worked hard to create beautiful talks, which would inspire people to action.
Fast forward 6 months and the talks have been seen by over 200 thousand people! Wow! The speakers were really great and their hard work was rewarded. And my work as well. This is on its way to inspire at least half a million people in the next few years.
Target almost achieved. Now what? Clearly it was a relatively easy target, so I decided to increase it. I could have 10x’d it. But it felt like choosing something just a bit more challenging. So I settled for 100x. Inspiring 100 million people to take individual and collective action for Ocean Sustainability.
What next? How do I inspire that many people? Perhaps a documentary would do! I love video making. It’s been my secret passion since when video cameras became available in the Eighties. More recently I started to play again with video making and I created several short videos sharing coaching ideas and insights. And early this year – very early, that was on January the 1st! – I produced a short documentary as a personal challenge to produce, record, edit and publish a short documentary within 24 hours.
“The pocket park” documentary presented the work of a group of volunteers who take care of the gardens along the Queen’s Promenade along the Thames river in Kingston. But my objective for my mission is much grander! I want to produce a documentary on Ocean Sustainability, with a twist.
The vast majority of documentaries show some aspect of life to document it and bring it to the public. Same as I did for the TEDx talks, I want to add an actionable message. Look what this person is doing. This person is just an extraordinary ordinary person who is doing something for the Ocean and the planet. Something that you can do as well. Or something that can inspire you to choose to do something yourself. Same as for the TEDx talks, “actions worth taking.”
A documentary is a great platform to reach millions of people if it makes it to the big distribution channels. Like the Discovery channel, or even “the” Netflix! Think of the many important documentaries that Netflix has produced – Cowspiracy, Seaspiracy, My Octopus Friend – and how many people they have reached and inspired.
These documentaries made me think. Same as TEDx talks. Why just spreading ideas and information about important issues. Why not add an actionable message to these?
There are very few documentaries about the Ocean and very few about action. This is the documentary I want to produce. Action for the Ocean. And what is the story? There are very few documentaries about the Ocean because it’s difficult to be there to document the vastness of the Ocean. The encounters you make. The changes it is undergoing.
I have been dreaming of being one with the Ocean since when I was a child. I remember a book I read about a free diver who loved the depths of the Ocean so much that eventually decided to let himself sink in the Ocean to be one with it. Not that I dream of a similar conclusion, which incidentally at the time I didn’t see as a suicide, as much as a profound connection with something that the character loved intensely.
I love to sail on the Ocean, I have been sailing since I was a child. On dinghies, sailing yachts and on big ships. I love being on the Ocean, on the waves, in the wind, under the sky and the clouds. One with the Ocean. One & Ocean.
Recently I became interested in the great Ocean solo sailors. The first man to sail solo around the world non stop was Sir Robin Know-Johnston in 1968. That’s just a bit more than 50 years ago. And since then, less than 200 sailors completed a similar journey – as a comparison, over 11,000 people reached the top of Mt. Everest. I read all the books I could about solo ocean sailing. Of successful sailings as well as of failures.
Actually there were no failures. There’s no failure in attempting something so massive. For me, personally, there IS failure in NOT attempting what I set my heart into. And I set my heart into sailing solo around the world non stop. I already succeeded because I decided to do it.
This is the perfect way to create a unique documentary, about a unique expedition, solo around the world. What I will see, what I will experience, what the Ocean looks like, how the Ocean is changing, how its fauna is changing, how the weather is changing, how the planet is changing. And how I will change, how it is to attempt to achieve the impossible because that’s what you were supposed to do. To be. How it will change me.
That’s the documenting part. Then there’s the action part. What actions we can take to stop the disaster. The documentary will intertwine solo sailing with stories of people who are doing something for the Ocean. People who are taking action. In any way they can. I am sailing solo around the world. They are doing something else. For the Ocean, In any way they know how to do. And the people who will watch the documentary will think, what can I do? What is that I really want for me? For my children? For humanity? For the Ocean? For the Planet?
They will see other people doing incredible things. How do you get to dream seemingly impossible dreams. How do you get to do incredible things. By discovering the infinite potential each one of us has inside. Well hidden. Deep under our fears. The child inside. the child that we all used to be born. Each one with their own inclinations, abilities and preferences.
Document. Inspire action. Uncover power. For the Ocean, for humanity, for ourselves. In a documentary aiming to inspire 100 million people to take action for Ocean Sustainability. And in the process, heal themselves, heal ourselves, from all the trash that has been stifling our inner child since we were young. Let’s stop being assholes. Let’s be children again. Who love life. Who love our planet. Who are capable of creating the impossible. Just because they see nothing is impossible in the eyes of a child.
Today, now, is my starting point. I am slipping the lines towards this incredible adventure, exploration, mission. The words above were my first step today. My first step towards creating this impossible mission.
How is my mission going to develop? There are several parts to it. There’s the big expedition of course. About 8 to 10 months alone in the Ocean, between 2024-2025. There’s 2 years of intense preparation to be ready to slip the lines and set sails beyond the horizon in Autumn 2024. 2 years of solo sailing experience, first in the Solent and the Channel in 2022. Then in the Atlantic in 2023 and 2024.
Then there’s the Documentary. It’s a 2-parts documentary. Before and after the expedition. About how the Ocean is changing. About great people who are taking action to help the Ocean. About what people can achieve if they only set their heart to it. About the expedition itself. About loving the Ocean. About being one with it. We can all be one with the Ocean.
Another important part is communication. How to let people know of this Expedition. Get them onboard. Get their support. Get them involved as Ocean Sustainability Advocates. With branding, PR and events.
Following the success of my TEDxCowes, I want to have 3 yearly events leading to the Expedition, where speakers from all over the world inspire us to action. And one final event after the conclusion of the expedition, presenting the full documentary and inviting more speakers.
The human factor. That’s the part I haven’t explored yet. But it’s critically important. I said let’s stop being assholes. As in, let’s regain the conscience of our inner child and let’s stop being driven by fears. Message number one. Message number two. We can achieve the impossible if only we set our heart to it and we let go of limiting beliefs and fears. And message number three. Each one of us is invincible and if we join forces according to what we can bring in, we collectively can achieve more than the impossible. We can change the world.
Isn’t it worth giving it a try? Rediscover our power as active members of society. Drive our development for the common well being. Realise our potential to create our dream land. A place where we contribute, not out of fear, but of goodwill. A place where giving is the real prize.
Am I dreaming? It certainly looks like a dream today. We as society are so bent into satisfying our fictitious needs. Which are just ways to tame our fears. What about living fearlessly from now on? What about seeing fears for what they are? Limitations to our potential to become. Everything we can dream of. And beyond, thanks to millions, billions of other people dreaming the same. What amazing life can I help you build. What amazing life can you help me build.
My dream , today, now, is to sail solo around the world, to create a world-first, actionable documentary to inspire people to take individual and collective action for ocean Sustainability, and help them look beyond their fears into their dreams of self realisation, to make a better world to live in. With a healthy Ocean, surrounded by people living truly happy lives, people enjoying every single moment of their lives on the planet. Thank you to coach Andrew Moss for reminding me of living my greatness!
And I didn’t even scratch the surface of what I wanted to say! I wanted to talk about my first steps into solo sailing. What is going to happen. Not that I am living into the future. I’m just setting the destination and the waypoints for my trip. What will happen along the way is up to the wind and the Ocean. And my choices along the way.
Living life is just like sailing. You can decide a destination and set sails to reach it. But you can’t plan in detail how you are going to reach it. The wind can be against you. So you will need to beat into the wind. Into the waves. Everything will seem to be against you. But you will be making progress. Or there might be no wind at all. No point in getting nervous then. If the current pushes me back, I can drop the anchor to stop drifting back. And if the water is too deep and the anchor can’t reach the bottom, I’ll just drift back, there’s nothing I can do about it. But I can and I should enjoy the moment. I am sailing and I am one with the Ocean and the wind.
I realise that the last metaphor comes from a beautiful discussion I had with a philosopher who recently sailed solo around the world. Pierre-André Huglo is a beautiful character, who taught me a lot about sailing and the art of being one with the Ocean. He is a very reserved person and I don’t want to expose him more than this. I hope that someday he will want to join me on stage to tell his beautiful story. Thank you PAH!
The sailor lives on an unspoken, profound belief. The wind will show up. I just need to be ready to set the sails to drive me towards my objective. This is a beautiful metaphor of life.
My first waypoint on my journey’s map is sailing Harmony, my new boat for this season, back from the Medway to the Solent. That's approximately 160 nautical miles (One nautical mile is just short of 2 kilometres, or 1.2 land miles). It’s going to be solo sailing of course. And given the distance, I can’t complete it in one day. I will need to stop at least once but more likely twice, to make it 3 steps of 50-60 nautical miles, which is what I can reasonably expect to be able to sail in one go, probably in about 16 hours each.
There’s no need at this point to go deeper than this in planning the voyage. Just pick 2 intermediate ports that are 50-60 miles apart and maybe a backup plan with more ports but closer to each other should I see that I can’t make it in 16 hours. And of course get to know the waters I will be sailing in each step. Study the charts. The dangerous spots. The passages. All stuff that at some point will come to me and I will need to know where I am to be able to make the right decision according to the current weather conditions.
Charts help you so much when you jump into a voyage. But what will happen out there on the water, is up to the weather and many unforeseeable circumstances. Plan your passage, but then be ready to respond to any unexpected changes. Same applies to life. Everything goes fine, till it doesn’t. What shall I do now? Sailing is being in the moment even if you have planned it all. You can’t force a plan against the will of the weather. You have to be able to adapt.
The best way to be ready to adapt, is to live in the moment. What is the weather like, now? How is it changing? What unforeseeable circumstances are affecting me now? Be attuned to life, be attuned to the Ocean around you. This is going to be my first impact with solo sailing.
Yes, the first impact, because I have been sailing all my life, but, aside from small dinghy races on Lasers and similar single handed boats, I have never sailed solo in the Ocean. That’s why I am going to do the expedition in 2024-25. I will take 2 and a half years to develop familiarity with the Ocean, the Ocean weather and all its vagaries. That’s why I am starting small, with a small 7 metres yacht, to sail solo in the Solent and the Channel in 2022.
I am a normal person, a conventional person, doing something unconventional. As professional explorer Mark Wood told me “You are an ordinary human being like myself who cares deeply about the planet. Your passion is sailing and your desire is to explore alone. Over the next 3 years you are dedicating your time to understanding how to navigate, live and survive on the great oceans of the world which will lead you to your own greatest challenge.”
Meeting Mark has been an important turning point for me. And meeting him wasn’t even a planned waypoint in my journey. I discovered the Explorer’s Club by chance. I know it sounds like a Jules Verne novel, but the Explorer’s Club is real. An institution over 100 years old. Mark was its president and now is in charge of the UK and Ireland chapter. I naively thought that the age of the big explorations was over, now that we seem to know everything about our planet. Only thing, we don’t, and explorations are still an important component of getting to know our planet.
My expedition can also be considered an exploration because I want to bring scientific research on board. To take data and samples from places that are normally inaccessible to researchers, if not at prohibitive cost. I am going to sail in the Southern Ocean, the Ocean surrounding Antarctica, where the climate is also changing and where massive amounts of unknown microorganisms are yet to be discovered.
Back to 2022, year one of the 3 sailing seasons leading to the expedition. Looking forward to slipping the lines and setting sails from the medway to The Solent. Some time in June.
In the meantime, broadening my network. Meeting new people who are passionate about the Ocean and sustainability. Who want to have an impact and are willing to join me in this journey creating a powerful message to inspire 100 million people to take individual and collective action for Ocean Sustainability, while unleashing their power to see the child in themselves and have the courage to create a new life on this planet. Together, each one in their own way. Millions of different routes towards the same objective. A healthy Ocean, for a healthy planet, for healthy humanity, for a beautiful life together on our planet.
Do you want to be part of this? Do you want to contribute to a new way of living on our planet? Out of love not fear. Out of mutual support not competition. Out of self realisation. Out of allowing our potential to shine. Learning to unleash the Ocean within ourselves. Learning to create the impossible. Individually and collectively.
We can be the seeds of a movement. Many movements like this are sprouting across the planet. Which collectively can make a huge difference and make the planet a great place to live in again. The collective wisdom is waking up. One & Ocean is one of these movements, if you love the Ocean and want to set sail with me, come along. And if you are more attracted to other groups, don’t wait, join them in. Become an active player for our Planet!
I plan to keep this journal alive, with updates. Daily? Weekly? I don’t know. I will discover it on the go. I want to honour all the people who helped already and the many more who are going to help in the coming years. Just writing this piece has woken up a powerful feeling that this is going to happen, that we are going to achieve it. The expedition and documentary are just the beginning. We are going to change the world. Together!
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