Henry Chamberlain, Founder of Coastal Exploration Co.
interviewed by A LITTLE FIND.
"I wanted the freedom to run my own enterprise, to help people and to settle in the world after a peripatetic existence in the military and as a humanitarian."
Ex-Royal Marine Henry Chamberlain takes you on the most amazing outdoor trips possible in Norfolk with its wild and mesmerising coast: wild swimming, live music on the boat and trips through the most remote coastal areas. One of our favourite adventures are his overnight trips with homemade stew cooked on a wood burner with a tent fixed over his beautiful traditional fishing boats, to keep everyone snug.
Henry's dream of building an adventurous sailing business with a community of like minded people has come true and we were thrilled to ask him a few questions about how Coastal Exploration Co. all started.
Focusing on Norfolk's rich maritime history, using the local wooden traditional fishing boats, he also combines this passion with a strand of altruism through social and environmental change. In a time where foreign travel is fraught with additional challenges, we hope this provides some inspiration for you to think about your next holiday trip closer to home. Henry's trips are pure magic, you'll wonder why you ever thought of going anywhere else!
How would you describe your brand or mission?
Using my love of adventure and traditional wooden Norfolk fishing boats to help connect people with the beautiful and wild North Norfolk Coast, to promote environmental and social change.
What was your motivation?
I wanted the freedom to run my own enterprise, to help people and to settle in the world after a peripatetic existence in the military and as a humanitarian. I also need a certain amount of challenge and adventure in my life and with our range of wooden boats in these demanding seas I certainly get it!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
It seems like an endless stream of challenges from meeting the stringent safety standards of the Maritime Coastal Guard agency to operate, to making the books balance to the incredible physical effort required to start the business.
What are you most proud of?
I most proud of our team of skippers and staff that now do most of the hard work, a team of inspired and passionate people that bring such enthusiasm to our clients. I am also really proud of linking up with Beth Orton, a Norfolk folk singer and pulling off concerts in the salt marsh with her.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am setting up a mussel flat operation (small boat with no engine and just power by oar and sail) in Blakeney, of which we shall have access to a different part of the salt marsh, but also we will be serving oysters and a local white wine - offering something different, to those that want to relax.
Could you pick one small change for everyone to make to live more sustainably?
Yes, stop flying round the world for your holidays and look at the amazing things we have on our doorsteps.
What book is top of your “must-read” list?
It would be Waterlog by Roger Deakin - a beautifully written book about wild swimming around the UK and he also swim in Norfolk. He also talks about some really interesting social history of the UK.
What is your LITTLE FIND?
I think my wellness calendar - a reminder to look after yourself, when you are working hard! I can get carried away with work, so this really helps.
Quick fire questions...
Perfect Living: tent, castle or cottage? Tent
Next on your bucket list? To sail a Dhow along the coast of Oman.
Where do you save money? Not very well, but I tend to spend everything on a project to build something of value in the future - so every spare pound is currently in the company...
Where do you splurge? My recent splurge was on a Tina Loder Norfolk jacket - I love UK made clothing and cloth and support local businesses. I also like to promote the use of natural materials when at sea or on the salt marsh.
Your favourite object in your house? My Afghan teapot from Nuristan, a place I love, but also what it represents, a way of working with people, taking your time through multiple cups of tea - listening.
Vintage, recycled or brand new? It would have to recycled which is what we have done with our boats, all were on their last legs abandoned in the marsh and now they are all repaid and working again - beautiful to see.
Tech addict or technophobe? I like the balance, so I heavily rely on social media to run the business, but when at sea we try to leave technology behind and go back to the old ways - a good balance!
Perfect treat? A bottle of chilled Norfolk white wine, fresh oysters, pastonacre bread after a long wild swim in the salt marsh.