SeaLegacy 1 sailing on the ocean

Ocean Insights

Chasing Conservation Winds Aboard the SeaLegacy 1

“Paul and I have always dreamed of sailing around the world. We wanted to take our SeaLegacy headquarters directly to the water, where we could work closely with local communities to establish effective, lasting protections for our ocean. But there was one major flaw with our romantic vision: boat fuel. Most boats can burn through gallons of fossil fuels every hour, and boat traffic has an enormous impact on carbon emissions. We could not in good conscience set out to help our ocean on a gas-guzzling machine. So we started researching a concept that rarely, if ever, makes it into the climate conversation: sustainable sailing.”

– Co-founder Cristina Mittermeier

Manatee below the SeaLegacy 1

The SeaLegacy 1 is more than just a way to get from point A to point B. When we unfurl its orange, humpback whale-adorned sails and our bow points toward the horizon, the SeaLegacy 1 chases the conservation winds and carries us to our ocean’s most pressing stories. The SeaLegacy 1 is our key to chasing change– the barrier breaker between us and uncovering our ocean’s true voice. It’s a sign that help is on the way. It’s our way to navigate toward a brighter future for our planet.

“The SeaLegacy 1 has granted my crew and me unparalleled freedom to patrol the front lines of conservation as we work to connect a global audience with fragile, ailing ecosystems around the world. While to many, it might seem like just another boat, to me, it is a symbol of hope, a vessel of inspiration, an ocean-going beacon with a message for the world: don’t give up on the fight to save our planet – we can still turn things around.”

– Co-founder Paul Nicklen

A search was underway

When the team decided to bring our storytelling operations to the front lines of the climate crisis, we knew we needed a ship that would serve as a precise piece to complete the SeaLegacy conservation pursuit puzzle.

In order to remain true to our purpose and maintain an overall positive impact on our planet in every way we can control, it was clear that a fuel-dependent vessel with high greenhouse gas emissions wasn’t right for the job. Our work required navigating wherever the ocean’s most important stories were taking place, so a sailing yacht built for short cruises or day trips wasn’t a perfect fit either. Our boat would need to withstand extended voyages at sea, store a tremendous amount of photography and media equipment, require space for our dedicated crew of at least six, and, above all, it had to remain planet-positive in its impact.

After extensive searching, our co-founders found a 62-foot, custom-built, David de Villiers-designed, ketch-rigged catamaran in New Zealand that could take us into a new age of our conservation journey. Previously owned by a sailor with fifty years of experience, the SeaLegacy 1, then named Elcie, circumnavigated the globe a few times over before our co-founders stepped aboard, with a combined 90,000 miles under the vessel’s belt.

SeaLegacy 1 at sunset

A myriad of factors coalesce and form a high-performance, lightning-fast ship– both a main and mizzen sail, a strong, light aluminum hull, and daggerboards (removable vertical keels) among them. It’s so efficient that it’s even logged speeds of 16 knots, while most vessels of the same build tend to max out at 6 knots.

The ship holds a broad deck with a cabin that comfortably sleeps six, but up to ten crewmembers can fit. The stern can hold a Zodiac on the back platform, so our team can maneuver our way around with ease. The SeaLegacy 1 also came to us equipped with a custom-built dive compressor, perfect for our underwater storytelling pursuits. However, in order to make the most impact for our team and their stories, some changes had to be made.

“In the ocean, orange is the color for help, and I immediately had the vision of orange sails. I wanted SeaLegacy to be a beacon of hope. I wanted people to see it coming to harbor and feel like the cavalry is here to help, and we’re here to tell stories that actually create change,”

– Co-founder Cristina Mittermeier

The transformation

To effectively chase and amplify our ocean’s stories in real-time, the SeaLegacy 1 required a few custom adjustments to outfit the vessel into our fully operational floating headquarters. In its current form, the SeaLegacy 1 stands as a testament to an impressive feat of teamwork and dedication from many partners.

Our friends at MAC3 donated equipment for a full-service media room on board. After capturing incredible underwater scenes, our team can resurface and immediately get to work preparing their footage for conservation action. By accomplishing this, we can provide the latest media and precise footage that accurately reflects the current condition of our ocean for a myriad of conservation initiatives. To communicate with our colleagues on land, the SeaLegacy 1 uses Starlink to stay connected, even when we’re a thousand miles away from shore.

Above the cabin, the Yacht Maintenance Company played an invaluable role in the boat’s restoration. The team stripped and replaced the deck first, thanks to materials donated by SeaDek. Max Props provided new propellers. Miami Cordage supported our line and rope needs.

Our signature orange, carbon-infused performance sails featuring our humpback whale mascot came to us courtesy of North Sails. Learn more about our mascot and our sail design in our A Sea of Hope series.

Setting sail

The newly renovated SeaLegacy 1 took to the seas, following the call of our ocean on its maiden voyage to The Bahamas. Here, we helped shine a light on the region’s budding blue economy in the wake of Hurricane Dorian in SonyAlpha and SeaLegacy’s The Voyage and offshore drilling’s destructive toll in National Geographic’s Photographer series in addition to showcasing the lively marine life still at home in their waters.

We’ve pulled into port and explored the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. We took our audience below the surface of ‘Darwin’s Playground’ in SonyAlpha and SeaLegacy’s The Voyage series.


The SeaLegacy 1 then sailed to Baja California Sur, Mexico, where we teamed up with local leaders and scientists to stand up to harmful industrial fishing practices. We explored the importance of this region to our entire global ocean, and encouraged the creation of Dos Mares, an ambitious marine protected area.

From Baja, Paul and the SeaLegacy 1 crew sailed over 4,000 miles across the Pacific to French Polynesia. In 2024, we then took to the open ocean once more on an over 2,500-mile journey back to the vessel’s original home in New Zealand – on a mission to balance the scales between the country’s disproportionate land ecosystem protection and ocean protection.

Our team then navigated to Australia in April 2024, where we captured imagery and stories from scientists at work during the fifth devastating coral bleaching event in eight years.

As Earth continues to face such drastic shifts, transporting people to the frontlines of the climate crisis’s tangible impacts becomes increasingly essential. Aboard the SeaLegacy 1, we have the freedom to take to the sea and bring our ocean’s most critical calls for action directly to our audience and changemakers around the world.

Learn more about our floating headquarters in SonyAlpha and SeaLegacy’s The Voyage below.