The story of a young art student from Australia living in Berlin that abandoned his dream of becoming an artist, for a sailing boat and backpack. Nick's stories inspire us as he follows his passions whilst making a living for himself. We hope you find some inspiration too. Enjoy the read.
Who is Nick Jaffe? I am a human interested in autonomy, truth, creativity, meaning and exploration. I've sailed tens of thousands of miles across oceans in search of adventure and remoteness - most recently I was driving across Africa before the pandemic hit and turned everything upside down. I am a maker, photographer and writer.
Where is home for you and where are you right now? I primarily live in remote Tasmania, Australia, when I am not traveling. Due to the pandemic, I was torn away from my current expedition, which involves driving a military Land Rover named Penny from the most southern road in Australia (Tasmania) to the most northern road in Europe (Norway) via Africa. So far, I have made it around Australia and shipped Penny from Perth to Cape Town. I was on my way up the eastern seaboard when I had to abort the mission and park Penny up with friends in Cape Town until I can return. You wear many different "hats" what is keeping you busy at the moment? My project with Penny has taken significant time, energy and money to get underway - the pandemic really turned my entire life, purpose and mission upside down - while I am glad to be home in Tasmania rather than locked down in Africa, the readjustment and re-purposing of my time to be most effective during this time has been my priority. I am a photographer, yet with a complete shutdown of commercial photographic opportunities, I have been using my time to work on new projects, finish old ones, and delve back into filmmaking and motion. I also have a small leather label named Kohutt which also keeps me busy. So between personal photography, motion and Kohutt, my time is well utilised until such a time I can resume my expedition.
You just launched your first book what is it about and why did you write it? Yes, after many years I finally finished my first book, titled The Years Thunder by. The book is a very personal story on my solo sailing trip from Europe to Australia in a 26ft boat. I have always been an avid reader, and to me the next logical step was to actually sit down and write my own book. After much wrestling with myself to get it over the line, I published in April.
Tell us about your sailing odyssey and how that came about? After completing my university degree in Photography in Melbourne, I decided I was going to be an artist and moved to Berlin to practice art and continue my university studies. After living there for a year, I abandoned my further education and decided the best way forward was explore the world rather than sit in a lecture hall. At the time I was disenfranchised with backpacking and other forms of low budget travel - I was and still am in many ways a steadfast romantic, so it seemed the most magical way to explore the planet would be by sailing boat. In defiance of buses, group travel and staying in backpacking accommodation, I decided to hitch hike to the arctic circle through Sweden and Norway. It was on this adventure when I reached the Lofoten Islands, that I decided I would figure out a way to go sailing on my own. A year and a half later I had taught myself to sail, bought a small boat in England and set off for Australia across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. What would you say was your biggest adventure to date (scariest moment ...surfing, sailing, driving?) To date, my biggest and most daring adventure is probably my solo sailing travels. There were many harrowing moments, yet the one that always comes to mind when I think about this, was my very very near death when a freighter came within meters of hitting me mid-ocean while en route to Hawaii from San Francisco.
You have your own brand, what do you do? And why / when did you start it? I have a leather and carry brand named Kohutt. The brand is named after the summer camp my father went to as a kid in New York. I have a workshop and tooling setup to make leather wallets and other everyday carry objects. I learned to sew during my years sailing and repairing sails, and in 2015 I bought my first industrial sewing machine. From there it all snow balled, and today I have a 20ft shipping container cabin which functions as my workshop where I am currently concentrating on Kangaroo leather wallet making. What are the potential future projects you are working on at the moment? My travels in Penny are very much up in the air at the moment, with no firm date as to when I can continue. The momentum of the project, along with the stressed financial status of it all has definitely jeopardised my mission. I am currently looking at some sailing related expeditions around my home state of Tasmania, due to the fragility and many unknowns around international travel. Why do you like Heimat products? I love Heimat products because of their timeless design and nod to traditional maritime garments. I also love the weight, feel and quality of the products - I am also half German, so I also quite like that they are made in Germany ;)
Anything you advise our readers to read watch or listen to? I have been creating more motion of late, so keep an eye out on my YouTube channel for short films, stories and interviews! My book, as well as my other projects, can be found at www.nickjaffe.com - I can be found on Instagram @nick_jaffe