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From seafarer to influencer: the unusual world of Olof Ormeling

15 March 2024

When reality TV star Olof Ormeling visited the port of Rotterdam this year, Sascha Meijer caught up with the famous seafarer for an interview

Olof Ormeling has become a crowd favourite in the Netherlands because of his
participation in a Dutch TV show called B&B vol Liefde, a reality series in which six single B&B owners from across Europe are matched with Dutch singles to see if they can find love. But Olof also has a fascinating past as a seafarer and Union member, and has travelled the world.

Olof first started his career at sea after his brother went to nautical college in Delfzijl. Olof followed suit, with an internship at a dredging company. He then continued his education at the Higher Nautical College in Rotterdam and went on to sail with all kinds of shipping companies (and for a time under his own brother, who had been promoted to captain).

Olof sailed as a marine engineer for many years and was a member of VKO, a predecessor of Nautilus.

After his years onboard, Olof also worked for a long time at Hydraudyne/Rexroth (formerly Mannesmann, later Bosch) in Boxtel, where he was involved in highly specialised hydraulic engineering, including for the offshore and shipbuilding industries. As an expert he spent long periods of time, sometimes years, in Taiwan, Brazil, China, Australia and Singapore.

Freedom at sea

Working with people from other cultures and having the opportunity to visit different countries were the main things Olof liked about working at sea. 'The best thing about seafaring is the freedom,' he says. 'When you're young,you get to travel everywhere and see a lot of the world. That has always attracted me'.

Sascha and Olof during the Rotterdam visit.

However, being away from home for long periods of time also turned out to be a
challenge, according to Olof. 'I didn't really have much trouble with it at first but when you get married and have children it does get a little harder.'

Olof is very fond of the Union. He also has experience of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF).

In New Zealand, he once witnessed a ship being detained by an ITF inspector because of underpayment of its Asian crew.

'That was necessary,' Olof says. 'It is important for unions to negotiate good wages for seafarers.'

Life as an influencer

In B&B vol Liefde, Olof stood out to many people because he always remained himself: friendly, helpful and down-to-earth, traits that are common in Nautilus members. Olof also recognises this: 'Onboard ship you also stay yourself and rub along together'. He never thought he would become famous, but he does enjoy it.

He gets asked for all kinds of things and he now uses his celebrity a lot for both
commercial jobs and to help foundations and charities.

Keeping up with the times

When asked if he thinks the world of shipping will change in the coming years, Olof shares his insights on the evolution of the industry. 'I think so. They want
more automation, of course, and in addition, dealing with engine emissions is also a big change.' Despite these changes, Olof remains sceptical about fully automated sailing or the idea of having only a captain onboard. 'I don't see that,' he stresses, 'and I also believe that multiple crew members will always be needed on the ship.'

For Olof, seafaring will always be a profession in which human skills and expertise are invaluable. 'I do think that there will always be work for seafarers,' he says, 'but they need to continue to develop by taking training courses.

'Continuous training is essential to adapt to the changing demands of the industry and to ensure that crew members are well prepared for all the challenges they face at sea.'


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