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“If 75% of our planet’s surface is covered in water, then why do we call it Earth?" This is the type question that Coco pondered before venturing off to explore the world's oceans, sails raised and filled with the wind, setting his sights on the unknown. While some choose land, he chose the high seas as food for his soul. A few months ago, I met up with the Nomade des Mers crew to spend a few weeks sailing along the coast of Mexico. The idea was a simple one: sail at the wind's pace, taking advantage of every stopover, to surf to the rhythm of the waves.

An adventure focused on simplicity, while combining two areas of expertise: boardsports and resourcefulness. Welcome aboard the Nomade des Mers. A quick reminder for newcomers, the Nomade des Mers is a floating laboratory and self-contained ecosystem, tasked with cataloging and developing low technologies all over the world. Low-technologies, also known as "low tech", are simple, affordable, environmentally-friendly technologies, used to meet basic needs in a variety of areas such as energy, food, waste management, and healthcare. The crew experiments with these inventions on board, and then explains how each low technology operates through tutorials they publish for free on the web. Gueno.

He handles logistics, and is in charge of identifying future inventions and opportunities for encounters with new people. Coco: he captains the boat and oversees the biosphere. He has spent five years on board the Nomade des Mers. Caro: she specializes in spirulina, mushrooms, and creating an overall fun atmosphere on the boat. She's also Coco's English teacher. In English you can say, "Damien" or "Damian".

And this is me, Damien. I may have the least amount of experience sailing, but i'm the most skilled crew member when it comes to surfing. And this is our boat, the Nomade des Mers.

Before raising anchor, let's take a quick look back. For those who don't know him, Corentin de Chatelperron is to the high seas what the Little Prince is to the desert: a being from another planet that asked the ocean and sea storms to draw him a sheep. At the age of 26, he sailed fourteen thousand kilometers from Bangladesh to France in a boat he built with jute fibers. It took him six months to make the trip from the shores of the Ganges River to Ciotat, by way of the gulfs of Bengal and Aden. Three years later, he set sail on a new boat, the Gold of Bengal, and played Robinson Crusoe for six months on deserted islands located between the Andaman and Banyak archipelagos.

To survive, Coco counted primarily on his chickens, a tropical greenhouse, and his hand-operated desalinator. But things didn't quite work out as planned... "These are potato plants." This one here is still good. There's a plant over here that I didn't want to plant, I don't know where it came from so I haven't watered it at all and it's the plant that's doing the best, which is frustrating. Rather than discourage him, the setbacks, inspired Coco to come up with new ideas, on how to survive and thrive, using the resources he had at hand.

They laid an egg. Way to go girls! Hey! Today, he has taken this inspiration to the next level by sailing around the world, in search of low-tech innovations. So that does it for the introduction.

Now let the adventure begin. First, it goes without saying that a surf trip means surfboards. Coco needs one if he wants to test his mettle against the mighty waves of the Pacific Ocean. To remain consistent with our approach, the idea is to salvage a broken board from a local shaper's trash can and give it a second life using the materials we have at hand. In terms of broken boards, we couldn't have found a better place. The waves in Puerto Escondido are known around the world for their incredible force and power, so broken boards are easy to come by.

After a quick tour of the area, we meet Och, a local shaper. We plan to fix the board using a sheet of dehydrated mycelium. That's right, mushrooms, or rather, mushroom roots.

Better yet, let's let the specialist explain. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a mushroom, the part underground, the white filament here that you can see. Here we used wood chips. The mycelium breaks down the organic matter, and serves as a natural glue to bind everything together. We needed something as compact and solid as wood.

So we chose the Ganoderma mushroom. I wasn't expecting it to be so compact. Great! You wanted a recycled board and now you have a good one. I need you to cut it for me, this one, too, so that I can measure it and use it to replace the damaged foam. Do a lot of surfboards end up in the garbage? Yes, when they delaminate they're unusable.

It takes a lot of work and costs a lot to repair them. It's good to know that we're giving it a second life and the chance to travel again. Yeah, it's great to give it a second life, to recycle it.

Puerto Escondido my friends! Before setting sail, we toured the local markets in Puerto Escondido to stock up on food supplies by gathering all the excess unsold fruits and vegetables we could find. We then dehydrated and stored the edible parts for the trip and use the rest to feed the crickets and black soldier fly larvae. - Well, captain? - This is not boat. It's a living ecosystem, which means there are so many things to do.

We aren't sailors, we're farmers. Don't laugh! I'm being serious. On the first card, it's written larvae... I prepared cards to divide up the chores.

Pierre, you will have chores to do, too. Idli, Spirulina, that's me, I love it. Low-tech beer? Okay, I'll take it.

Or do you want to do it? You're good at that. Yeah, it's in his blood. It's the Breton in you.

Dehydrating food? This needs to be done every day. Look in the pantry to see what fruits and vegetables are starting to spoil and dehydrate them before they do. Pierre. Hydroponics. Every day, you need to pick leaves when they're ready, basil and mint.

I can do that. Ah, crickets! You must give them leaves. It goes together.

Crickets and hydroponics. Who wants the next card without knowing what it is? No... It’s the wild card. It's washing the deck.

I think you'll do great, Gueno I love a really clean deck, especially since it's where I usually sleep. Uh, watering the plants and picking what's available both go together. Go ahead.

- Mushrooms? - I'll do it. There's still the fire. I'll take it. And what about you, Damien? I drew a wild card, it's the surf card and it trumps all the other cards on days when the waves are good. It's great to be back on board the Nomade des Mers and to see everyone, and getting to meet someone new. To the first Low-Tech surf trip! Cheers ! I'm busy replanting the basil plants that we grew and re-cut from our hydroponics system. I love this system that we found in Singapore.

It allows us to grow plants using ten times less water than usual. It's lightweight, so perfect for the boat. The plants are fed with water and urine that bacteria transform.

This is a thyme plant. You can just eat it like this, but it's better to put it in hot water. Mint, basil, I love both. These are sweet potato leaves, which you can cook.

We also feed them to the crickets. And what's this? Uh, this is a mistake. We planted turmeric one day thinking that you can eat the leaves, and then we couldn't find any info. It's a pretty plant, but we don't really have the space for pretty plants, only those we can eat.

2 hrs, we'll arrive before nightfall, which means we won't waste time tomorrow morning. The surfing is better in the morning. If there aren't any waves tomorrow morning, there won't be any waves anywhere in the area.

So we can come back and spend the day diving and trying to catch some fish. But at least we'll already be in a cool place at sunrise. Here could be great, too. There's clearly something there, but will the swells be big enough? Just look at this.

Thanks to mushrooms! What are you looking for? The basil. It's all the way over there. We'll go out and around to get it because inside it's like a jungle. Here you go! Great for something from a trash can.

This is spirulina. It's a very nutritious algae that contains lots of protein, magnesium, calcium, vitamins, and iron. In addition to being nutritious, it's easy to grow. We can grow spirulina the same way it grows in the wild. It's been around for more than three billion years and you find it in salt lakes and areas where it's pretty warm, so as soon as you see pink flamingoes in a lake, you know there's spirulina.

Here we're going to grow it the same way, putting it in water with a lot of salt and sodium bicarbonate. I'm going to add iron and a lot of nitrogen. Human urine, has a lot of nitrogen. So I need to pee in a pot.

Well, there's no refrigerator on the boat, so we can't keep meat, or store anything fresh, so for protein this is how we do it. When it's fresh it's better than in a pill or dried. It's not as strong.

When mixed with lemon and spices into a smoothie, it's good. We can use it on days we're surfing. Yes, I think between now and then we'll be able to harvest some. Just a few days after setting sail, familiar habits and reflexes return. I come to understand that low technology is far more than a simple alternative to high-tech tools; it represents an overall approach to life.

A way of viewing the world based on need and the means available. And when it works, it's pretty satisfying to see just how capable we all are at achieving some level of self-reliance. It's pretty simple, you no longer need to go to a surf shop to buy wax. Just head into the mountains to gather sap from a pine tree, or to a bee farm to pick up some wax, or find a palm tree for coconut oil. And then go surfing.

Fantastic! Okay, I'll give it a try Sometime around 8:00, Damien came back all excited. "Yeah, the surfing's great, the perfect wave. However, I broke the rear fin, it's this one and I can't turn." A surfboard has three fins, and this one here allows you to turn. And so he says, "I'll take the one from your surfboard," and I reply, "but Damien, then I won't be able to turn," and he says to me, "But you never turn anyways."

Okay, he has a point. I surf straight down waves for now. But I'd like to learn to turn one day. And so I took an old piece of particle board and made a new fin. The fin of the future! It looks pretty good.

The board surfs really well. It falls well, too. It's a really great board for surfing. However, Damien told me that I surf like a frog, and I can't tell if that's good thing.

- What does that mean? - He spreads his knees. You also said I surf like a duck. It was great! I understand why surfing's your profession, Damien. Ah, that was great. It couldn't have been better for Coco.

Honestly, it was like in a surfing movie. That's what we're making! But had you ever surfed before? Yes, but not on waves like that. You looked good, old school with your legs like this, frog-duck.

Now, if you had surfed like an eagle… But I didn’t say frog, I said duck. Don’t forget, it’s a board made with mushrooms, and there aren’t many out there, and when on a board made with mushrooms, you surf like a frog! Guéno’s chopping wood ! A great meal for a storm that your stomach can handle. Idli, it's just rice and lentils. Our friend Johnny from India showed us. It's a full meal, with legumes and cereals, and since it's fermented it's good for your gut flora, for digestion. And according to Coco, it's the meal of the future, but I have my doubts since he's already said the same thing for a lot of different meals.

We let this ferment overnight, and then we put it in the solar oven to make flatbread for burgers, or for anything that you can eat on the boat. Be great if you could bring back 5 lobster or crayfish. Uh, sure. Sushi! It looks pretty good. I looked all morning for mackerel but I couldn't find any. Crap.

What happened? It was hurt but not dead yet. So, chef, what are we eating? Raw fish seasonned with Mexican chli peppers. So, Coco, earlier you were practicing your English. I... with my accent, "Damien is like a frog."

"Without water" "He dehydrates" "He de-hy-drates" I chose it because there are a lot of Hs and an S. "Damien is like a frog, without water, he dehydrates." Life on board the Nomade des Mers moves to the ebb and flow of the tides and waves. When the swells die down, everyone knows their role and understands what they need to do: performing maintenance on our low technologies, managing food supplies, or spearing fish. Dehydrating fruits and vegetables allows us to store food for long periods of time as well as make a wider variety of meals.

One of many goals, is to experiment with low-tech cuisine. Whether she uses a wood fire or solar oven, Caro always regales us with her cooking. Caro, are you making something that will blow our minds? So, these are sweet potato leaves that go straight into the cricket cage. Crickets that have grown pretty big. They are either roasted or dehydrated. They keep for longer when dehydrated.

These are roasted crickets and mixed with a hot pepper, so it's pretty good, like a cocktail snack. It has a lot of protein, which is great. And just place this in here wherever. This is a corn lotion, I'm not sure what they call it, but a sort of mini-larvae packed with protein, and we need to check the water. Grow little ones, grow. We have mangoes that are a bit old, so I'm going to make something that I love, fruit leather.

You put pieces of mango that are still good in the blender and make a paste. Take two suckers like this for a day surfing and you’re good to go. We sailed for ten hours through the night. We're at a place called Jurassic, a place where there are mountains, but no roads, so no access by land.

We thought that this would be a great place to try to find waves where there wouldn't be anybody. Unfortunately right now the wind sucks. It's weird, it was supposed to be a northern wind, but it's a southern wind. We'll take a look behind the bay, and maybe it will provide a bit more shelter. - It looks like you didn't sleep well. - I slept horribly.

It felt like it was 353 degrees in my bunk. So I went up on deck and just when I started to fall asleep around 3:00 I had to take my shift at the helm until 5:00. And now it's 7:15, and it feels like I slept for an hour here and an hour there. Yeah, I'm exhausted. You can't see the swell. No, there isn't any.

You can't see the main swell from the southwest. We should just reverse course, going along the coast, and anything we didn't see last night we'll scope with binoculars and find another Jurassic. Yeah, I think we can do that.

In any case, there aren't any dinosaurs here. No waves either. Should we head west? Yep. What really makes the trip is sailing across the vastness of the ocean, venturing far beyond the limits imposed by land, heading off to explore while accepting the risk that we may not find anything in the end. If the wave we're looking for simply isn't there, we fully embrace the notion that the journey itself is more than enough.

- How's it going? - Good. Do you think we can set anchor over there? Sure, no problem. You're spending the day here, too? And then going to the beach later? No, we're heading out the other side. - Where are you from? - France. But right now we plan to stay between Huatulco and here. And Salina Cruz? No, there's a lot of wind there.

Good to meet you. Good luck! So, there's a village over there. Where there's a village, there's everything. We're there, we're there. As spokespeople for the low-tech movement, Coco and his team hope to contribute to the emergence of simpler, more eco-friendly lifestyles. In other words: living better with less.

The idea is not to turn back the clock, but to rekindle our relationship to the world. This includes forsaking our now outdated desire to always consume more, and to start using more sustainable technologies. Coco is convinced that "low-tech" is a way to change our relationship with the world.

And if this idea was more widely known and accepted, it would allow us to take a huge step forward in resolving the current environmental and social crisis the twenty-first century is experiencing. And maybe, just maybe, humankind will once again find its rightful place on earth.

2021-06-28 21:31

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