Ocean College

Our Crew Onboard

Jacob Jan Dam


My name is Jacob Jan Dam. I started sailing in 1983, following four years working as a physical therapist. I then spent nine years traveling on Dutch waterways. My wife was with me during this time and both of our sons were born on-board. My wife then stayed at home with the kids while I began sailing in the Baltic Sea. My ship at the time, the Albert Johannes, was also a three mast schooner and on that ship I worked a lot with youth groups.

For 15 years now I have been sailing with the Thalassa. The ship is owned by myself and Arnold Hylkema, who built the ship himself over 20 years ago. In the 15 years together we have repaired, renovated and upgraded the ship  in order to prepare it for larger groups on the open sea. The Thalassa is designed for worldwide journeys and meets all safety requirements.

We have already traveled to the Canary Isles, the Mediterranean Sea as well as Northern Europe. We also participate in the yearly tall ship races with students.

I look forward to working with OceanCollege because the ocean, and a ship’s crew, brought together by challenges they face are the perfect teacher for adolescents in life.


Elskarin Klarenbeek

My name is Elkarin Klarenbeek, I am from the Netherlands and I am 45 years old. I have spent the past 28 years going out to sea, and as of 1991 own all patents for traditional sailboats and since then I have been traveling across the world: The North and Baltic Seas, Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Pacific. I have been to the Antarctic multiple times and will be part of another expedition to the Antarctic as the helmswoman until February 2016. I’ve spent 14 years with projects on the ocean, working with troubled youth. Within the scope of these projects I worked as the Captain, and later as a coach and therefore have extensive experience with groups on the ocean.

In 2011 a similar project to OceanCollege was founded in Holland, with 34 students, and I worked with them as the helmswoman in 2014 as well. We sailed the same route that has been planned by OceanCollege. As such I have insight into the planned course and know the weather systems, beautiful spots, as well as the possible learning potential of this journey. Through the challenging life onboard, students build strong relationships and learn a lot from each other.

I would describe my philosophy when working with adolescents, which is based around a ship or “on the journey of life” if you will, as this; Adolescents should be given real responsibility in order to discover their strengths and weaknesses. The adults on board are only there as support. The learning environment on open water and in multiple countries, like that of OceanCollege, is so intense that the typical educational experience loses all meaning. This journey revolves around leadership, reflection, structure and coaching. I have already experienced how children come on board, and leave as young adults.

I’m excited to get to know everyone and look forward to travelling together!


Anne Kooistra

My name is Anne Kooistra and like Elskarin I was born in the Netherlands, and am 45 years old. I have been working for 20 years as a skipper on international trips, and spend a lot of time on ships in the Baltic Sea. I am specialized with rigging on ships like the Thalassa; I build the masts and rigging for traditional sail boats and have worked on both the Gorch Fock and the Alexander von Humboldt. My knowledge of ships also extends to machinery, motors and ship building. So far I have always found solutions to technical problems I have encountered on board. I’ll be working shifts as the helmsman for the OceanCollege project, and also ensuring that all participants receive proper safety training. Like Elskarin, I was also part of a similar dutch project in 2011, and therefore know the challenges of our upcoming trip very well.

I am convinced that actual learning can only occur when adolescents are taught actual responsibility. Our journey on the Thalassa provides many opportunity for them to take responsibility as we will encounter many weather systems, be at sea for multiple weeks, and see other countries from a whole new perspective. I look forward to taking on these challenges together.





Francis Noel-Hudson

Francis is 69 years old and has the most experience of all our team. He started sailing as a teenager, before becoming interested in traditional sailboats. His interests lie in particular with classical sails, and has been both a sailor as well as captain on many voyages. He took part in the construction of two traditional sailboats and has made ship alterations for safety purposes as well as improvements for better sailing. In 1984, Francis was one of the first who gave students command of the ship, and it has proven to always be a unique experience for the participants.