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On Board With: Sebastian Noel

Former Survivor contestant, full-time merman.

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Sebastian Noel with fish
Sebastian grew up on the water and put those skills to good use on Survivor. Courtesy Sebastian Noel

Fans of the CBS-series Survivor will likely recognize Sebastian Noel. The free-spirited Florida fishing guide earned his keep on the show by doing what he does best, supplying the cast with the bounty of the sea. Along the way he met fellow survivor and girlfriend Jenna Bowman, almost made it to the final, and later, traveled the world. A chance encounter, however, led to what just may be the coolest part of his story.

Sounds like you’ve been a true waterman long before you were on Survivor.

My Dad had a bait and tackle shop and chartered boats out of Port Canaveral [Florida]. He got me into the lifestyle really young, bringing me to events, taking me fishing. What five-year-old goes out and catches yellowfin tuna and gag grouper? I fell in love with it. Going through school I thought of nothing else but the ocean. I had my captain’s license by 17. Every time I sat down to take a test I was just focusing on what fish was in season.

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So it’s appropriate that your chance to audition happened on the docks?

I saw a flyer on the dock for Survivor auditions. I immediately called my friend and said, “Dude you’re doing this with me.” We each grabbed a Four Loko at the 7-11, drank them in line and tried out right on the pier I started working on as a kid. Eight months later I heard from the show and the rest is history.

How was the experience?

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In my opinion Survivor picks one of every style of people—there’s a dude from Harvard, there’s a nerd, an engineer, there’s the guy who can talk from Jersey, and then you get somebody like me. There’s always one guy on the show who’s there to catch fish and help you survive. That was my greatest asset, growing up in Florida and being a natural waterman, in love with everything ocean, I felt like I was at peace out there. Put me on a beach in Fiji and give me a Hawaiian Sling and it was basically a vacation. I think by Day Three we had like five lobsters, a stingray and a couple fish for dinner.

And that certain castmate?

We weren’t supposed to talk before we got to the island. I sat down in the last row of the airplane to Fiji and literally the last person on the plane was Jenna Bowman. She came walking down the aisle, I thought she was beautiful and we talked for the entire 13-hour flight. I couldn’t help myself.

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What happened next?

After the show, Jenna and I decided to travel. We were meeting a lot of people in the yachting industry, and found a yacht that we got on together. She was a stew and I was a deckhand and drove a 37-foot center-console tender on a 100’ yacht out of Miami Beach. We ended up at a party and met my current boss. He said he had just bought a 50-foot center-console and wanted to fish but didn’t have a captain. I raised my hand and said, “I am the perfect guy for you.” We quit right then and there, and for the last three years I’ve been running a 47-foot Intrepid for a private owner and he’s the best thing that ever happened to Jenna and myself. Jenna manages his estate and I run the boat.

Depress our readers some more with the details of this dreary job.

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We might run to the Bahamas for the day and load up on yellowfin tuna and mahi mahi, troll for wahoo in Bimini, fish locally out of Miami for big swordfish in deep water, go kite fishing for sailfish and blackfin tunas off the reef, or cruise over to the Bahamas in the summer months to catch big mutton snappers on the full-moon spawn. Or maybe just target shrimp, lobster and stone crabs here in the waterways of Biscayne Bay. It just depends on the weekend and the weather. It’s my dream job, running this beautiful center-console and I get to pretty much choose what we do and they’re completely happy with it.

Read Next: On Board With: Cheyenne Lee

And yet, you still dream of TV?

My hope is to get on at least one more television show, whether it’s an MTV Challenge or another Survivor. My ultimate goal would be to have my own fishing television show. Until then, we’re focusing on getting a bigger and badder center-console and I don’t see myself leaving this situation for a long time. It’s perfect and we’re so grateful.

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