Every month we will interview the boldest craftsmen who are living the Pig & Hen lifestyle. This month, we have the story of...

Niels Koornstra

Since 1824 the KNRM is ‘the’ caregiver on the Dutch seas. It’s a charity that's available 24 hours a day for those who require help at the seas. All volunteers accomplish every task based on excellent seamanship. Niels Koornstra, one of the KNRM’s seaman, always wears his Pig & Hen ‘lifesaver’ bracelet on the job, just to be sure.

Niels, please tell us, why KNRM?

I will always have a connection with the sea, water and boats, because I was born in Harlingen. My father was a volunteer at the KNRM for 25 years, so when I was a little kid I always used to come here. When I turned 18, I had the privilege to join the KNRM. Time flies, last winter I had my 10-year certificate.

How can you join the KNRM?

If you want to join the KNRM, you need to go through a training period of three years. You start with a try-out of three months. After these three months, the “students” need to get the necessary papers: a Sailors licence, VHF Radio licence, Radar licence and last but not least a First Aid licence. Then you will go to Scotland where there is a special training centre and a rough sea where your skills will be fully tested. Such an amazing experience...

Can you tell us what the responsibilities of the KNRM are?

We are ‘the’ lifesavers of the Dutch sea. The state needs to secure its waters and that’s our responsibility. We can get called for different reasons. For example a stranded boat, a boat with engine problems and even for medical evacuations. If there is an emergency on water, the KNRM will come.

What does it take to be a member of the KNRM?

You need to be a team player. One team, one mission. You won’t make it if you don’t have what it takes. You have to be ready to risk your life for each other. You don’t need to like sailing, you need to like the job.

The Dutch have a very exciting history at sea, what is the most exciting thing that has happened to you guys?

At the KNRM we experience several situations. Tough situations where it comes to teamwork are the most exciting things. When a boat has a leak or when a boat is on fire. We always have to make sure that all the people on the ship are saved. In the end, the KNRM is a rescue company for saving people. We are not a recovery company, but we have everything on deck to help to get boats into the dock or to pump water out of a boat.

The sea can be wild at times, not to mention the possibility of pirates. How dangerous is the job?

Not so long ago there was a sinking yacht, then you really need to put it on with the team. It is so important that a team can work together. You’re really pumping with adrenaline through your entire body. All facets come together so it gets really exciting. We sometimes have a job to drag a boat, but we also have really exciting situations. Like two years ago. There was a man with a heart attack on a fishing vessel. If we were a few minutes later he wouldn’t be alive anymore...

Niels is wearing:
Georgeous George


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