Souvenir Live: A Conversation About Living on the Sea with Lauren

Souvenir Live: A Conversation About Living on the Sea with Lauren

February 02, 2022

Britt: Hello everybody. And welcome to Souvenir Live. I just got back from two and a half weeks in Costa Rica and it is colder than I expected in Toronto. So I'm basically wearing a toque permanently now. Also my hair has forgotten how to behave without the sea salt, which I'm sure we will be talking about today. Alrighty, hello everybody. And welcome to souvenir live. I'm just gonna turn down the music here.


Welcome. Welcome to souvenir live. Thank you so much for joining us here today. My name is Britt and I'm the founder of Origin Travels. We are all about helping women get off the beaten path. And every Tuesday we meet in the sacred space, at 7:00 PM Eastern standard time to just chat with different women whose lives have been changed by the souvenirs that they've brought home from their travels. And we're not talking about those physical souvenirs. We are talking about those bits of information that you pick up while you're on the road, those conversations that you have, the different outlook you absorb on life just by meeting and observing the way that other people live. And how do you bring home those lessons and learnings?


How do you bring home the souvenirs and how do they impact your day to day-to-day life? And so we talk every Tuesday to women with alternative lifestyles as a result of their travels and explorations and desire to explore it. I am so excited to chat with Lauren, who is a woman of the seas. She lives her life as a sailor free dive instructor, Marine biologist, ocean advocate. And we'll talk to her tonight about graduating into a COVID-19 stricken world and how she found an alternative path on the water. Without further ado, I will be inviting her on. Welcome, welcome.


Lauren: Hi, how are you? 


Britt: Good. How are you? Thank you so much for being here. 


Lauren: Thank you for inviting me. 


Britt: Of course. So I just kinda gave you a little bit of intro if you're just tuning in now. Thank you so much for coming. We're chatting with Lauren whose going to talk to us tonight about her life on the water, which a really different life than anybody that I know, especially cause you know, we, I live in Toronto, you know, we have a lake here, but nobody actually lives on and except for a few random houseboat people and so super stoked to hear about. W#hy don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and how you got here? 


Lauren: Yeah, so, I guess I grew up going to the ocean. I'm from Missouri, born and raised. I'm actually here visiting family and I fell in love with the ocean. I loved everything about it. The boating, snorkelling, I loved talking to the locals. And time went on and I was in middle school. And my mom said if I were to go back to college, if I would've studied Marine biology. I never considered it. I had no idea. I wasn't thinking anything about college, like what I would study and all that. And so we started looking at schools and I ended up in Fort Lauderdale where my grandfather is. And I studied Marine biology for three years while I was there. I was so happy to be on the ocean finally, and I'd always wanted to learn how to free dive. So I got connected with some amazing people and did free diving every weekend. There was a local captain who was friends with my family and he said, Lauren should get her captain's license.


Never crossed my mind. And I was like, okay. And so he had me help him out when I didn't have school. And he took me under his wing and every summer I worked for him and I guess that's where I got more of my captaining experience and all of that. And I graduated within three years. I knew I wasn't going to go to master’s. That was my original plan. And I knew I wanted to be on the ocean. That is all I knew, people were like that’s what you want to do? And I'm like, I love the ocean. I love being on it. I love everything to do with it. And that's all I can tell you. After that I met some friends and five days later they asked if I wanted to go to The Bahamas with them. And I said, why not? And I was thinking at work with my boss. It was three months after COVID graduations. And he was like, go for it. I was like, thank you for all your training. And I went and it honestly just happened.


Britt: I love this story, first of all, because I feel like you have, you're living a little bit of like an opposite reality. Whereas I feel like so many people like myself, when we, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a Marine biologist. I feel like that's like up there with like astronauts in terms of like childhood ambitions. And like, nobody actually ends up becoming a Marine biologist. It's just like, not how it works, but in your case, you didn't even know you wanted to become a Marine biologist and then decided that this was something. Interesting based off of what your mom said, and like, here you are today. Super cool. So like, what about that for like a little bit?

Lauren: So, you know, for a lot of people who've maybe had this dream and these aspirations, so Marine biology, it's just this thing that sounds so mystical and magical. It’s three years of, like studying in the U S for. Traditionally four years. I was lucky enough that during high school, I got to take some courses that allowed me to not have to take some of my basics. It was definitely one of the harder routes I could've taken, but I loved it, I wouldn't have changed it for anything because I had that experience under my belt. And I also got to learn about something I loved every single day. There I use it in a scientific standpoint someday, or if I continue doing what I'm doing and my dream is to be able to teach kids with every island I go to, every country. So, if I can just add something to my plate, I can teach them Marine biology at whatever level they are, and I can teach them to free dive. I can teach them how to sustainably Spearfish and gather food. So that's my ultimate goal. And I'm so happy that I chose Marine biology. Now that I live on the ocean. So I can have that, like in my background and share it that way. 


Britt: That is really amazing. So like, there's something that you mentioned, and I feel like a lot of people might not be super familiar with, outside of the realms of like national geographic and some like cool, like HBO documentaries, but like, can you tell us a little bit about like what free diving is, how you got into it? How does that relate to spear fishing? Tell us a little bit more.


Lauren: So free diving. So a lot of us joke around and we call it advanced snorkelling. So we know snore cleaners swimming at the top. You have a mass snorkel in super relaxed, comfy free diving. We pretty much take a big breath of air, take that smoke out of our mouth and we dive down, level one, you can go to 33 feet and level three. It's a hundred feet. We're allowed to get closer with animals. You don't need all the gear. That was one of the biggest things for me. I fell in love with, I was like, oh, I have to lug that gear around anymore. And you really do see everything that you do. Scuba diving. It's beautiful. And we actually can't speak to fish in The Bahamas with a tank.


So we have our full spheres where spear guns are illegal there as well. And it's so you feel like you're one with the ocean when you're free diving because you have very little gear. You're quiet. The fish barely know you're there, except for apparently when you pick up a full sphere, they noticed because I didn't Spearfish for my whole life and I was not used to fish running from me. So it's a whole other ball game, but it's just different techniques for everything. And it really just allows you to get close and connected with the ocean even more. One of my most favourite documentaries I've seen recently, I know 33 feet is insane. Like I can't even think about, I think I maybe went down there with like a scuba dive. I dunno. I'm not a good scuba diver, but like, that seems like very crazy to me. So like kudos to you. 


Britt: One of my favorite, um, I don't know if you've seen it, but the documentary is called, oh no, what is it? I like that it’s. Okay. I'm going to have the, it's going to have to come to me in a bit, but it's like, it's about this, like it's about this like group of women, spear divers, spear fishers in this island off the coast of mean I was literally reading a book on it. What was it called? Okay. I'm going to have to get back.


Lauren: Yes, I do follow her. Yeah, she's very cool. So she, it was her documentary. She went to this, um, it was like off the coast of Japan or like off the coast of Korea. And they're basically talking, it basically talks about this like really incredible group of women. It's like a matriarchal society of women who have, basically fed their communities for like generations, because they've been the main source of like food was the island of the sea women.


Britt: Yes. Yeah. Read the book. It was. I've loved it, so good. Right. Okay. So I, I first saw this documentary that was like, related to it. If you type in like Kimmy, Kimmy, swimming, Kimmy swimmy documentary, I think she did it with like Patagonia or something like that. You just have to watch. It's really short. I always recommended it's this beautiful montage on like motherhood. just had two groups of girls, traveled to Costa Rica over the last past two weeks. As we run like an adventure travel company here at origin travels, we traveled to Costa Rica. One element of the trip is surf and somebody, the girls were trying surfing for the first time. And there was something so crazy and so different about surfing because like, you're literally putting yourself at like the whim of the ocean, which is this like uncontrollable thing. Like it does what it wants to. Thank you. Los nomad. That is a hundred percent when I was talking about how to check it out. Thank you so much now it's coming back to me. But yeah, so like the ocean is like so weird. It's, it's crazy. It's unforgiving, it's beautiful. It's vast. And like how, like, what is your approach to the ocean and like being in it and like being, just spending all your life on this force of like that's its own. 


Lauren: Honestly, everything you just said is, so on-point like, it's this it's its own force of nature. We can't predict it. We can't control it. We're at its mercy. I think surfing and sailing are very similar and that you're going to be in possibly rough seas because surfing, you're trying to catch those waves. You need wind. And if you're doing a long crossing, you can't predict the wind in 40 days or 30 days. So it is so forceful. And my biggest thing is I always try to respect it. I don't try to push my limits and try to beat it. If I see it's going to be super windy or I feel like I'm on edge about something, I usually go conservative. We never know what's going to happen. We can control our boat a little bit, but if something goes wrong on top of bad weather, that you're in the ocean's hands, you can't do anything about it.


But at the same time, it's so beautiful. And it's so peaceful. Like it's my happy place. I feel completely at peace with it. And I feel like those good days when it's just absolutely gorgeous. The sun's out. There's not a ripple in this. Like those two oceans are so different, but it makes you, it makes you respect both of them. So if you're in rough, you respect the calm. And when you're in the calm, you respect the rough more. But I think just respect overall is what can get people through that and not having like being too confident because you are at its mercy at all times. 


Britt: For sure. And I think that topic of respect actually goes so much further than just respecting the conditions, but also like disrespecting the environment has so many like ramifications on like the entirety of like the systems and the water temperatures and the life that lives in it. And like how it affects like the wind patterns and like, you know, it's, it's just so crazy. It's all connected. And so like, it's, it's one of those very rare places where you're really. Forced to be like completely at nature's whim. And I think that it's like, what is that? You can truly like respect nature. And I think understanding like the gravity of, of like the natural forces. 


Lauren: Yeah, we do. And that's one of the things I love most, like, I feel the most with like the, at one with the ocean, with earth and nature, because we're running our energy office, solar panels. We're making our own water for hunting for fish every day. And we made it go to the grocery store every three weeks, or we can even push it for two months depending on charters. But it's so amazing because it's like, if something, if our water maker breaks, we're like, wow. Or like we don't, if it's a cloudy day and we don't have all of our solar, it's really crazy. How at one we are with nature. If it's too windy or it's cold, it's just all the little things really add up. And it's hard to think about all those little things until you really look back, um, Yeah. I don't know if that makes sense.


Britt: Totally does it totally, totally does. And hello to you and the Canary islands.


Lauren: [commenter] He’s also in a sailboat. 


Britt: Amazing. So when you say water maker, is that like rain based or is that like desalination? 


Lauren: Desalinater yeah, so we have on boats. Yeah. It's honestly, it's a lifesaver. Like my boat can hold 250 gallons of water, which could last me two months. But when you have charters or it's colder out, so you're sharing more inside than outside, it really goes by quick. And so it is an absolute lifesaver to have the water maker on. 


Britt: Amazing. Okay. So let's, let's Segway to what you were just talking about your boat. That's pretty cool. So like what pushed you to buy a boat? And I also understand that, like, you have a company now in which like you help people or like you take people in like sailing adventures, like tell us. Let's breakdown that whole process. 


Lauren: Okay. So when I was in high school, we were in The Bahamas one year and I was like, all of a sudden, it was just like, I want to have a boat one day sailboat. And as the years progressed, I didn't tell anyone. But my goal was to have a sailboat. By the time I was 30, that was always my goal. And I didn't really tell anyone until the last year or two. And when I met Stephanie, I joined her on hers. Then for a few months I joined another friend on his boat for a few. One was a catamaran. One was a monohull, which is what I own. And I always wanted a monohull and I found my dream boat through that because I realized what I liked, what I didn't like. I learned about different models, how sturdy certain models were, how you can have comfort and quality. And so when I went back this summer with the sailing group away from some charters and some motor boat stuff, I took a little vacation and. I was like, I cannot leave this lifestyle. I've been in it for a year. I can't leave it, but I'm not, I can't just rush into something when I'm not confident. So I was looking through boats, probably those, I was there for two and a half weeks. I was looking at boats for a week and a half before I found mine. I'd given up. I was like, it'll come up one day when the time is right.


And all of a sudden I found this website. Like for sale by owner found my boat. And I knew the model I wanted was a Beneteau Oceana's. I had no size length that I wanted, but I knew I wanted three cabins with three heads because I want to comfort for me. I went in my own room, but I also wanted the two guestrooms to have their own heads, which are bathrooms. And that way it's comfortable for everyone, but it's also my home at the same time and not just another charter room for me. And this boat popped up a bathroom's on your boat. Then I have in my house living, that is the housing crisis at its max. We just put it into a bus, continue telling me about, yeah, so it's crazy.


So originally my boat five bed, five head boat, and throughout the past two owners they've converted it. So I have a whole storage. And then I have my bedroom and I joke around, cause my bedroom actually has two bathrooms, but they took out the toilet for one. So it's just a shower, but I joke. I'm like, that's going to be my cat maker's room because I can throw all of this stuff in there and I don't have to deal with any mess or anyone else. Beautiful kitchen, tons of space. Beautiful. Continue continue telling me about this book. He's spoiled, but yeah. Then I have two guestrooms and the stern queen beds, tons of storage in them compared to other boats I've been on, they have their own bathrooms. And then I have a gorgeous, like the cockpit is my favorite spot with just like cushions, sunset.


Like you're almost always facing the sunset and it's. Stunning. But it's comfortable and she's sturdy 51 feet. And, so I offered charters. I've been going to The Bahamas since I was two months old. And I feel like I know, but like the back of my hand, there's still so much to learn so many places. I haven't been even with that, but I want to share it with as many people as I can and teach as many people. Like my biggest thing. I always love to tell. So I offer charters, but I also offer people to come for one month at a more discounted rate, but it's also more come live my life with me. I won't be catering to you, but I want you here. I want you to experience it that way for people that can't necessarily afford a charter, but love this life, love the nomad life, or want to try it. They can, they can help me with anything. They don't have to help with a thing. They can work remotely. They can take the dinghy out and go dive. If I'm like, Hey, I need to work on this project real quick. We're going to be at the wind's mercy. So sail, wherever the wind takes us during those and the charters, whatever the guest wants to do.


So I do shark diving, free diving, just island hopping, spear fishing. If they're like, I want to come for seven days and these are the things I want to do. I'll be like, great fly into here. I'll meet you there. And we're going to have the best week of your life or for how ever long it is.


Britt: Yeah, official emoji in the chat. If this sounds like everything you've ever wanted to do, like that's so cool. It sounds like, so in line with the types of travel that like I love doing with my own passengers, which is like actually immersing them in just the lives and the living of the places that were, and people that were visiting anything, that's like such a cool approach. So congratulations to you. Can you tell me, you know, cause all of this stuff, it takes a lot of guts to start your own business, invest in your own place. I want to be like reincarnated into your cat. Like that'd be really great. But like telling me to like a lot of these things, you know, moving somewhere else, starting your own business, investing in something big, these. Like take risks. Yeah. So can you tell me about a time in your life, maybe travel-related or not, where you did something you really didn't think that you could do going into it and kind of came out on the other side and it was like, oh, well, yeah, maybe I can, maybe I can accomplish more than I thought that I could.


Lauren: I think, like, looking back, I don't remember one specific moment, but there's a lot of little things that have added up a year ago. I would've never imagined I'd be buying a boat. I would've thought. This year. I definitely took a risk, but I honestly, faith is one of the biggest things for me. I was like, I have faith that because this boat popped up and it was just so specific to what I was looking for. I'm like, that has to be God's timing because I just had that feeling. So I'm like, it's going to work out somehow, like worst, worst case scenario, I'm stuck with a boat and. I barely make ends meet and that's fine with me. Um, I can say that one of my free diving courses for an instructor, I saw Jacob's on here. We went through that together. At the beginning of that, or like middle of it, I was like, I don't know how I'm going to make it through this, but I knew it was my goal. And I knew like that was something I've dreamed of for so long becoming an instructor. So it was. You're going to push through this. You're going to be fine and you're going to make it. And I think that's, I've never really had to push through something. I didn't that I wasn't always passionate about or I didn't want to do so. I think that's always been a big thing for me. If I get stuck where I struggle is I just remember that end goal.


Cause I know it's going to be worth it with school, with any of my courses traveling. I always remember that angle and I keep my faith and that usually gets me through. 


Britt: That’s pretty cool. Thank you for sharing that. And I feel like when I think about like sailing trips, one of the things that like makes my jaw drop is just like these long haul crossings. What's the longest one you've done. And like, which one are you aspiring to do? 


Lauren: So my longest one has been from Fort Lauderdale to the end of the Chesapeake bay. I had a delivery, a delivery that was the most nonstop. We stopped once for fuel. Okay. So that was in Virginia, and that was the longest one I've done nonstop. There are two of us keeping watch and we had beautiful conditions. Like I couldn't have asked for anything more. And that was about seven ish, seven to nine days. But my upcoming sail, my boat is currently in Puerto Rico. Ashley's on here. She's going to be most likely taking my boat back with me. And that's going to be, could be a five to six day trip.


Non-stop depending on wind, I'm gonna have great wind. So I'm really hoping I don't have to use the engine, but who knows how fast we're going to be going? Exactly. That could be from five to seven days. I count on stopping once from The Bahamas for a few hours here and there to get some naps. But I can't wait to do the Galapagos to French Polynesia when that's going to be probably the longest sail I'll do about 30 days, possibly more, possibly less. And I will have a crew on for that, but I can not wait for that one. 


Britt: Wow. Okay. So like let's talk pirates. Is that, is that a thing? Is that a thing you have to worry about on top of everything? 


Lauren: So in certain areas of the world, I think it still is an issue, especially given today's circumstances. I think it could be a little more of a risk. I'm very lucky. The Bahamas has continually improved over the past 30 years. I hear stories from 20 to 30 years ago and I would not be sailing solo. But certain areas of the world definitely. 


Britt: Yeah. Cool. And like, in terms of like the female sailing community, I feel like when you picture like a sailor, it's like a guy with an iPad out is the, like how does the female sailing community looking like these days?


Lauren: Honestly, there's more females every single day. I feel like, and I love it. There's a group on Facebook, for women who sail and it's awesome. Women's sailors giving advice or asking for help. One of my best friends owns her own catamaran, and I have another best friend who her and her partner are chef and captain on theirs. I meet so many women that either do sail or want to sail. We have so many women come and take trips. A lot of them are so low when they come on. I have girls messaged me that they want to come learn. I'm like, come learn. I will teach you as much as I know. And when I don't know, we can learn together. I always joke. I'm like, I never know how to fix something until it breaks. And they don't know how to fix it after that again, if it does again, it's never the same thing though. Unfortunately. But I always, I think this community is really growing and the free diving and sailing world. I think there's more and more girls at free dive and are wanting to be instructors, not just for the pictures and stuff, which is, I think how it started sailing. I see the same thing. There's not as many solo females, but there are more girls that are getting into it. And I think it's amazing. Same with female captains all over the world. It's definitely a growing industry forsure. 


Britt: Amazing. Well, I don't want to keep you too much longer. I had such a great time talking to you.


Lauren: It was such a lovely opportunity to talk to you. 


Britt: Truly like you're living this super cool life that I think just almost sounds streamlined to. A lot of people are emerging out of this. Please let us know where to find you. Thank you. And I really enjoyed talking to you too.


Lauren: I have a link to my website on my Instagram and I book a lot of my stuff through DMS, but I also have like all my information about me, kind of where I started, a few of my pages and blog posts, just to kind of get to know me is why I made the website. So I have that linked in my bio as well. Instagram, I respond to everyone.

Follow Lauren on Instagram: @_laurenlanders

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