Following Journey: When Will We Realise We Are All in Same Boat?

Part Two: Land Ahoy! Casa Blanca

Thirty-six people from across Europe representing over twelve countries will set sail towards what can only be described as an adventure of a lifetime, and a call to action for a sustainable future. As participants of ‘Sail to the COP’ they will spend seven weeks sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, before reaching Chile to attend The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2019. Among the participants on board are three alumni of Leiden University College The Hague.

Part Two: Land Ahoy! Casa Blanca

As the Regina Maris moves at a steady pace towards South America, the sails of her mission are picking up wind. Sail to the COP and its participants have now made their first and second stop in Casa Blanca and Tenerife in order to gather supplies for the ship and build on their online resources. With every passing day they continue to push their mission and think-tank forward.

Jiske van Oeffelt, Alumni of Leiden University College, The Hague

Twenty Days On Board

There have been many challenges on board. The journey so far has seen one recovered figure head, two weeks of Atlantic storms and a brief unplanned stop in Brest, France to maintain the fresh water generator onboard. To both the surprise and delight of the participants, the three mast sail boat has also seen a pod of dolphins following its journey. The marine mammals have been accompanying the particpants by day and night, guiding them safely across the Atlantic.

Jiske van Oeffelt

Jiske van Oeffelt, Alumni of Leiden University College The Hague, was present at the launch of Sail to the Cop in Amsterdam over a year ago. Inspired by the scale and drive to bring the mission to life, she was committed to joining Sail to the COP. “I think I knew right from the start I wanted to do this. When I heard more about it, I wanted to share it. At the first meeting I was so excited, I really felt like this was better than I could have imagined – this whole movement”

Reflecting on the journey from its foundation to fruition, it has been a whirlwind for the core team and participants alike. “I would never have thought a year back that I would be sailing to Chile to take action at the COP. Both personally and as an activist”

Life On the Regina Maris

Time falls away on board the Regina Maris as the participants begin to measure their journey in sleepy sunrises, starry skies and carpets of warmth lain before them by the morning sun. On board, they operate in a shift system which means that the responsibilities for ensuring the maintenance of the ship are divided among them. The morning watch begins at five am, and for those tasked with the early start, their day begins before the sun greets the world.

Following this the think tank takes place for a further four hours. The participants work in break-out groups on a smaller scale. Not only does this enable participants to engage with themes of the think tank in a divisive and effective way, it also ensures that the maintenance of the ship is upheld.

The Think Tank

The think tank commenced by exploring the primary question of how to make the travel industry just and sustainable. On board, the activists who are charged with commitment to making a change in the aviation industry split into four working groups and devised a mode of effectively analysing the issue. The primary themes addressed were; Policies, taxation and governance; Alternative visions for sustainable travel; and What is the suffering caused by the externalities produced by the travel industry.

Upon the second leg of their journey, they transitioned from addressing the present to envisioning a prosperous and just future. The issues that are at the center of their engagement are; Policy analysis; Organisations that both facilitate slow and sustainable travel; Touristic destinations and outlets with respect to their ecosystems and carrying capacity; The needs and wants that underlie the individual pursuit of travel.

Although the think tank has been underway for over twenty days, the demand for creating innovative solutions won’t stop upon arrival in Chile. “The climate crisis is not going to be solved at any one point. It is a continuous movement that we need to stay active and involved in. We are always going to need to be active in this. It is not going to be over after one conference or next year”

Anchoring Their Mission in the Mind of the Public

As engagement with the strong and salient symbolism of the mission begins to anchor its self in the minds of the public, the mind-set of climate change as an issue that is beyond the power of every individual is slipping its mooring.

Article Written by Jayne Fitzgerald.


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