Two Salty Founders
Nike and Maria founded IN MOCEAN, a not-for-profit organization whose focus is on raising global awareness about ocean plastic pollution. They are dedicated to empowering the rural coastal communities who are impacted by it most.
Shared passion for Ocean Conservation
Nike Steiger and Maria LaPointe are two sailors that share a deep passion for conserving the ocean. Although they hail from opposite sides of the globe – Nike was born in Lüneburg in Germany and Maria grew up in Lunenburg on the east coast of Canada and the USA –it was the ocean that brought them together.
Maria, captain of Joana, a 72-foot gaff rigged yawl, and Nike, who single-hands her Reinke Super 10, Karl, crossed wakes in Guna Yala, Panama in 2014. The women became friends, but their seasonal sailing plans had them travelling in different directions. However, the ocean had its own agenda, and over the following months the two boats sailed into the same anchorages. As Nike and Maria got to know one another better, they realized that they shared many of the same values and passions.
Sailors recycling Ocean Plastic
Sailing in Central America, Nike and Maria saw beaches and waterways choked with plastic waste. Unwilling to simply bear witness to the overwhelming amount of plastic in the ocean they decided to tackle the problem. The team started by organizing beach clean ups, mobilizing and educating communities where they sailed about ocean plastic pollution.
Removing plastic from beaches was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the result was piles of plastic waste left in remote communities that had no means of properly disposing of it. Inspired by the enthusiasm of local people to rally together to help in the fight against ocean plastic pollution the team knew they could do more.
The women saw the potential in plastic waste and knew the key to unlocking it was recycling. Using open source information, they built a small-scale recycling plant onboard their vessels, transforming trash into useful material. They realized that by helping set up similar recycling workshops in rural coastal communities they could address the problem of plastic pollution while building the foundations of sustainable economic growth in those communities.
Maria was was born on a boat in the Florida Keys and rocked to sleep by the sea as a baby. Never straying too far ashore, her life has been intertwined and shaped by the ocean.
At 17 she joined the Picton Castle, a 179-foot steel hulled, three-masted, tall ship training vessel. While onboard she circumnavigated twice and worked her way up to the position of Bosun. She later went on to led Outward Bound programs, helping educate youth outside the traditional classroom model. She holds 100-ton US Coastguard Captain’s/AB unlimited license and is the owner and operator of Sail Joana, a sail charter business.
Often referred to as “Fixer of Everything,” Maria is a skilled welder and metal fabricator. Her curiosity and drive to help the ocean has led her to work on the Oceanographic Research Vessel The Thomas G. Thompson. Working alongside scientist and marine experts, made Maria even more determined to help clean up the world’s ocean.
Maria is a fun-loving woman who has a habit of encouraging spontaneous dance breaks and a growing collection of found plastic toys. Her infectious smile, passionate personality, and can-do attitude make her the heart of IN MOCEAN.
The ocean has always been a source of energy and inspiration for Nike. During her childhood in Germany, she dreamt of living and working around the vast and fascinating blue water that captivated her imagination.
After finishing a degree in Business Studies that included Corporate Social Responsibility and Regional & Sustainable Development at the University of Trier, Nike worked in marketing. An avid traveler, she spent a year traveling and working in Ecuador and Peru as a backpack tour guide, a position that demanded good communication skills, careful people management and on-the-fly decision making. In 2013 Nike left her office job and set off an adventure onboard Karl, a neglected sailboat she bought in Panama.
Restoring Karl and learning to sail solo was a voyage of discovery for Nike. Documenting her journey on the successful vlog, WhiteSpotPirates, she has not only funded her own adventuresome lifestyle but inspired many people to tackle their fears too. Living a life closely connected to the ocean made Nike passionate about giving back to the beloved sea that she calls home.
Nike’s skills as a videographer and her proficiency in several languages make her a natural communicator. Her work against plastic pollution has become an obsession, she never leaves a beach without three good pieces she can upcycle. Nike the motivator, organizer and business brain of IN MOCEAN.