Andreas Heide Helmsman, Marine Biologist and Ex-Navy Diver, Takes on the Polar Atlantic Ecosystem
The sailors and designers in the world of North Sails are some of the most inspiring people on the water, and we’re hoping to share more of their story with you. “Letter to my younger self” is a series told from our North Sails ambassadors. In each article, we bring to life their advice and personal journeys centered around the question: if your “now self” could give your “younger self” advice, what would it be?
Dear 12-year-old Andreas,
As you read this, I reckon you have just returned from a trip in your little boat or from freediving somewhere. Your parents might have been upset with you for coming home late, but shrug them off because this is the path you should stay on.
Stay true to your own journey, not the one expected by your parents or your surroundings. Let curiosity continue to drive you. Follow your instincts my boy and go for it. Know that everything you do now from climbing trees, skiing in the mountains, and rowing out to fish will help you better understand the great outdoors that you already love.
When you look at the horizon, wondering about the world that lies beyond the outer jetties, realize that one day you will adventure beyond the comforts of your home. When you look at the ocean wondering about what magnificent creatures live in the big blue ocean, know that you one day will get to meet many of these animals that fill your childhood dreams.
You will swim with whales of all sorts as well as the world’s second-largest fish, the basking shark (yes the kind you just read about in your favorite book), and have close encounters with polar bears, perhaps even a bit too close! And one day, you will sail as far north as you can, to the pack ice around the North Pole.
Getting there is not going to be easy though, sacrifices will have to be made. You will have to work hard and train harder. Join the Navy, learn to use a parachute, dive out of submarines and go on endless winter marches in the barren land of Northern Norway. But every day and every step is just a little closer towards your dream.
It’s not only about the physical side of what you do, having the smarts is just as important. Your teachers and parents will do a poor job of explaining why you have to go to school, but you have to suck it up. Trust me. If you realize that everything you learn will become useful later in life you will have fewer problems sitting still while doing your Algebra. (By the way, Algebra will become particularly helpful as you travel by boat in the high North) So listen to your parents and please be a good student. You will find marine biology studies a bit boring, but go with it because one day it will come to great use.
And whilst you should follow your instincts, make sure you surround yourself with good people and friends. Be humble and ask for advice when you need it. Nonetheless, self-confidence is really important as well. You will need that confidence at times, as it’s a lonely path you have chosen and few will understand what drives you. But you know: it’s the wonder of what lies beyond the horizon and beneath the surface; it’s the thrill of exploring; the excitement of pushing the limits that drives you through the challenges. If you stay true to your path then one day you will find many people like yourself. People with the same drive and same curiosity. These people will become your community to go out into nature and to sea, for the passion and for the love.
It’s only when you grow up that you will discover sailing. Sailing is a wonderful platform that lets you sail beyond the horizon, from where you will see the white cliffs of Dover, the icebergs of Greenland, and the solid ice of the North. It will allow you to dive into remote caves of the Arctic and, ultimately, sailing will help you share your love for the ocean with the world.
But it’s not always going to be smooth sailing (pun intended). At times you will be cold, scared, and wishing you had chosen an easier path. There will be highs and lows, excitement and struggle. It will be a challenge. But this will also be what you will come to love, the challenge of going out there and working hard to reach your goals.
At times you will fail. But failing is fine, as long as you have done your best. Just make sure you push on, get back at it, and do better. Never give up, my boy, stay true to your path. It might be that you never achieve all your goals, but rest assured, that you will have an exciting journey regardless!
And one last thing, as you get older, keep reminding yourself never to lose your curiosity. As you stare out at the horizon and wonder, fret not, you will soon see so much. Trust me there is so much to explore!