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Hotseat - Serge Bakker

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Sergio Bakker has been living in St. Maarten for almost 10 years now working the field of Information Technology. His company offers IT services, support and professional IT solutions to the business community of St. Maarten. However, working with St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation, this tech-man lives a double life and, like any other super hero, is always ready to save a life at a moment’s notice.

 

How would you describe yourself?

Compassionate, spiritual and honest.

 

Where were you born? Tell me a little about where you grew up.

I was born in 1971 on the eastern side of the Netherlands in a little town called Lochem, but I grew up all over the country. Having a father who worked with the police, we moved around a lot for him to get new functions with the police force. I don’t remember anything about Lochem; but I grew up in Eibergen, Breukelen, Kortenhoef, and some other small towns. My last seven years in Holland, I lived in the great city of Amsterdam.

 

What made you decide to move to St. Maarten?

I simply fell in love with the island. I knew St. Maarten because I had family living here. After spending a few months on St. Maarten, the decision to move here was easily made. Everything in the Netherlands was sold and the move was a fact. Since my father grew up in Curaçao, I was told many stories about the Caribbean and that may have helped as well in making this decision. The actual move took place in March 2004 so I have been here for almost 10 years now.

 

What do you typically do with SXM Sea Rescue?

A lot! Officially, I am the secretary of the foundation; but when the phone rings, we are out at sea. We are a small foundation and do everything ourselves – from maintaining the vessels to training and, of course, the rescues. Our team comprises dedicated people who together work very hard towards being ready 24/7 to save lives. We currently have one boat in maintenance; so we have been scraping paint for the last couple of Saturdays, while we have been busy with training and courses on Wednesdays.

 

What qualifications are needed to do what you do for Sea Rescue?

It helps if you know how to swim and are not afraid of the water. Of course, it also helps a lot if you have some knowledge about boats. Other than that, it is about the dedication. We are a small team of volunteers who work very closely together. We organize training and courses for our new volunteers who are willing to spend their time to support the cause. But being a foundation, we also need people involved in fundraising and other “on shore” tasks. For that, you also need dedication, persuasion and a profound understanding for our cause.

 

What will you be doing during the Heineken Regatta?

I will be on the rescue boat following the race and on standby in case anything goes wrong. In general, we coordinate the safety on the water and communicate with the French rescue and other boats and organizations involved. These are four exhausting days, but very much worth it. St. Maarten Sea Rescue Foundation takes its responsibility during the Heineken Regatta very seriously, and our volunteers dedicate four of their personal days to this.

 

Have you had any exciting moments at sea? Any during a regatta?

Depends on how you define exciting. It was exciting to have three rescued persons after their airplane crashed on the boat a couple of weeks ago – thanks to the combined effort with the Voyager. This is what we are designed to do. Unfortunately, I have been on the boat some other times where the victims are less fortunate – not exciting, but something I will never forget. During the regatta, we generally assist with broken masts and other technical difficulties. In general, the competitors are skilled sailors; and besides broken masts and a flipped catamaran, luckily, nothing really serious happened during the last regattas.

 

Do you get a lot of emergency calls?

There is no general estimate on the number of calls. Sometimes nothing for weeks (and that is a good thing) and sometimes three in one week. What is important is that our volunteers are always ready to go and that their families support their efforts of going out to sea. It is always an adrenaline rush when the phone rings, simply because we never know what we have to do to help people in need.

 

What (other/hidden) skills or talents do you have?

Too much to mention! I believe that I can do whatever I set my mind to. In my spare time, although quite limited, I try to find time to write and paint.

 

What was your happiest moment?

Today, my happiest moment was seeing that my dog was back at home – she has a tendency to leave the yard and roam the neighbourhood. She is a street dog so I understand her; but when you take responsibility for an animal, you really hate seeing it get hurt. In general, I have happiest moments every day, because I live in the now and do nothing but enjoy life – that makes every day and every moment a happy one.

 

If you could invite three famous people (dead or alive) for dinner, who would they be? What would you serve them to eat?

I don’t think three are enough, but let’s begin with Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), Mahatma Gandhi and Don Miguel Ruiz (author of the Four Agreements). I would serve them my homemade vegetarian lasagna complimented with a cold Heineken of course – not sure if they would drink alcohol, though.