Your devoted skipper Nico here.
Before leaving Vienna towards Croatia, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about Naleia. Dominik has already written at length on this topic, but I thought it would be interesting to share the point of view of a skipper, and I hope this will represent Marc’s, Jack’s and the other skippers’ feelings as well.
I started sailing with Naleia in 2013. Two years later, I was back for our most ambitious trip so far. That year, 2015, we sailed down and up the whole Croatian coast from Biograd to Dubrovnik and back, not leaving the boat for 7 weeks, picking and dropping Naleians in the harbours along the way. It was for me an incredibly exciting adventure, my debut as a skipper, an unbelievably intense human experience, and definitely the founding act of my involvement and belief in Naleia. The connections we made on this trip are still alive today. It was also where the glue that bonded us skippers originated.
In the next couple of years, Naleia kept on evolving. Dominik quit his corporate job to work full time on organising the sailing trips. We experimented with different programs, destinations, strategies. Dominik was trying to develop Naleia to earn him a self-sufficient income, and it wasn’t easy. But he was learning a lot along the way, and it was a fascinating journey.
It’s now been three years since I began, on that crazy Naleian Odyssey in 2015. While sailing this summer, I reflected that things have changed a lot. In a sense, we have become more professional. We know better what we do, we get better at organising all the time. We’re more experienced, more qualified and safer as skippers. Naleia is getting more mature. All the better.
At the same time, I have to admit that we have lost some of the sense of excitement with which we approached our sailing adventures in the beginning. Granted, a first time will always resonate more intensely in memory. Fair enough. Still, I spoke with Marc this summer and he echoed my feeling that we started to feel and behave like professionals, it started to feel like ‘a job’. And yet, we were sure it is exactly what Naleia was not meant to represent: a job. Something felt wrong. Dominik joined us in this discussion and we realised the feeling had been brewing in all of us.
On a purely practical and financial point of view, what would make the most sense would be to run the same trip over and over again, all summer, with the same boat from the same harbour. We would get more efficient and manage to earn a living. Yet, this is not what any of us wants. In our eyes Naleia is much more than just another company organising sailing tours in the Mediterranean. What Naleia represents for us is far from trivial – it is a big adventure, a community project, a multicultural group of like minded people, a million friendships established through the years, and enough happiness generated to sink a container ship. That is what keeps us going, and what we stand for.
What we do not want to happen is to lose our passion, fall in the trap of repetition, fail to look at every new sailing week as an exciting adventure, loose the special bond with our crew. We need to keep our energies alive.
The same goes for you. You joined the adventure at some point, and I assume you’d get bored doing the same trip in Croatia, however beautiful, every summer again and again, led by a skipper who has seen it too many times.
There is a remedy for this, namely: discovery.
It’s time we remember why we are doing all this. The idea of living this discovery together is what got us going in the first place. And the idea of building a community is also something we are profoundly attached to. This is why we agreed that we need to bring in the flotillas again, too.
For all those reasons, the program for next summer will be completely different. First of all, we shall organise half the number of weeks we had in 2018. This year we usually sailed with one boat, in 2019 the goal is to sail with two to three boats on average, as a small flotilla. There will certainly be some weeks departing with one boat too. I personally love both, they both have their atmosphere.
Secondly, we are launching a bunch of new and exciting destinations. We listened to your suggestions, dreams and fantasies during the summer, polled you on Facebook, and from there decided where to sail. We already revealed the trips in Norway and Finland, the rest of the program is full of novelties and will be published soon. Researching and preparing these new destinations took us a lot of time. It is a lot of overhead work and maybe not a clever business strategy, but this work is made of hours of love and dreaming on charts about our next adventures.
Sure, we will not be as knowledgeable about the area, we may miss the most perfect bays or the tastiest food treasures. There will be some trial and error. But that is what Naleia stands for, and it is the spirit that keeps us going. Skippers and crew discovering together, making the trip together.
This is our move to keep the uniqueness of Naleia alive. I hope to see you in 2019 on one of those adventures!
What are your thoughts about that? Feel free to express them in the comments below!