Influencer Captain ‘Don CheChe’ Simons
Interview January 2020
Sidney or Don CheChe Simons as most people know you, could you share with us some information of your family life?
We were a family of 11 of which 4 brothers and 7 sisters and I was raised by my grandmother, the mother of my father. I was born in Dominguito. My mother is 94 years old and she lives in Holland and my father died when he was 43 years old. I lived with my mother in Buena Vista until I was 7 years old and then went to my grandmother who lived in Dominguito. My grandmother was a very hardworking woman, an entrepreneur and she would sell all kinds of local sweets, snacks that she made her self and cigarettes as she walked from house to house. She would also sell to employees from Kooyman NV her goods which included bread and soft drinks.
As a child from the 3rd or 4 grade on, I was involved in her business because I would help her on Fridays when I went to stay with her, to determine whom was owning what amount as she gave her clients credit. At the end of those Fridays she would then go to Kooyman and collect her debts. When she died at the age of 77 years old, I was 25 years old and she had already made a big impact on me.
I also have 2 daughters, one 47 years old and she has been living in Holland since she was 12 years now and she is a ZZP-er (meaning she has her own company working in the “Care” sector in Holland) and another of 43 years old. She works at a local notary company for 25 years now. I have 5 grandchildren. I am 68 years old. The boat, I am using for trips, is called Angèle in honor of my two daughters’ names.
Could you share with us some of your educational background and past professional experiences as we know that you are an entrepreneur?
I attended the primary school at Sint Franciscus, the secundary school at Mgr. Zwijssen College what used to be called “MULO” and after going to the HAVO, I wasn’t that motivated anymore to continue with my studies. So my grandmother told me, that if I wasn’t motivated to go to school anymore, I should start working. So at the age of 17 years old, I became a migration officer at tha airport from 1969 till 1972. But it was clear to me that the sea was my passion and I couldn’t dominate that urge. At Mrg.Zwijsen College I would walk and go to the nearby sea at where Princess beach/Sun Scape is now and walk till we reached Jan Thiel. We would fish with some friends. I would go to Westpunt in the weekends and skip church just to sit at “Playa Piskado” and stare at the sea. When I started working at the airport I met some colleagues who were in the Big League of fishing. They were so much more experienced and I learned, first just as a helper, until I had mastered all the skills they had on fishing.
I bought my first boat during those years and started fishing every weekend at the top of the eastcoast of Curaçao. And I continued buying and selling boats, upgrading the boats that I bought while in 1972 I started working with my father who has his own company in construction materials and later on, for 23 years long I did all kind of things, as a freight transporter, I sold numbers, all legal and honest work and from 1986 till 1998 I was exclusively living from my fishing earnings. I started to go to Bonaire, Klein Curaçao, Los Avez islands, all based on a compass, but in the meantime I kept learning and honing my skills and got my First Aid Certificate, my sailing license, so I gained lots of experiences and this served me well when Santa Barbara Beach was looking for a captain for their security boat. I got hired in 1998 and worked there till 2005. They had excellent employee benefits, while I worked there I still had enough time to do my fishing. I have no swimming diploma, but I can scuba dive, scin dive, I followed different courses offered by Empresa Chikitu on how to manage your money as an entrepreneur and as a hobby I started offering boat trips to local and international guests. And then my hobby became gradually my main work. I started gradually as I was triggered by a restaurant owner that ran a restaurant with his wife close to Santa Barbara Beach, to offer fishing tours and tours to Klein Curaçao. BTW this restaurant owner, was born on the same day and hour as I was. We call ourselves brothers.
In 2005 I resigned from Santa Barbara Beach and within 2 weeks I was approached by a local security company to become their operational manager with a 5 years contract till 2010, which was then extended and as I needed the money to buy and remodel in 2010 the “jewel in the crown” of my boats, Angèle. As my grandmother always taught me to save Ang 1,- of every Ang 10,- that I would earn, if I needed money I would figure out ways to earn it and not create a new problem by borrowing this money. I don’t solve a debt by creating a new one, as I also don’t believe in solving an addiction by creating a new addiction.
I am using this boat Angèle for the trips that we offer and I worked on it for 9 years to remodel it completely and enjoyed the journey to remodel it to the fullest. I am a perfectionist and I want to develop and have my own unique brand. So during these 9 years, I worked on the remodeling of the boat myself, with the help of some here and there as long as they did what I requested and the work is done according to my standards. I am a very curious person and since I was a child, I would read everything that I could read, from magazines to stuff that I found on the streets. I would listen closely to the words of songs and memorized them. Nowadays, we have the internet, but in those days I bought magazines, I have over 200 of them. I also looked at details on yachts that I was on and all this made me design and remodel Angèle to the style and standards, that I wanted.
What kind of business are you exactly in and what is your companies name?
The name is Angèle fun and party boat. I want to offer busy people that have a stressful life an opportunity to eat, drink and have lots of laughs, walk around bare-footed if they want and transform their vibes into a more relaxed one, so that they can recharge and have enough energy to take on their responsibilities back when they get back to their lives.
My motto is:”Any fantasy near or @ sea“. Any fantasy, there are no limits from sun set, sun rise along the coast, moonlight trips, mostly in groups.
And when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life?
Success on a personal level is health. Business wise, it is to enjoy the fruits of all these years of my labor. I have a grandson of 20 years old that I am preparing to take over one day. He joins me when he doesn’t have to go to school, while I am also taking into consideration what his own interests are. In 5 years from now I wouldn’t have 10 boats, but my grandson would take over and I would have a steady income as what I do as a hobby brings me this income. I was never married and I have a significant other for years now and 5 years from now I would want to take it easy.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be whom you are right now?
The sea has been a passion for me since I was a child. All my life, this has been the theme in my life. I believe that each person has to do what he loves to do, be it a musician, doctor or writer, and once it is discovered through friction polished, so that it can shine. For me, it is the sea and for 60 years I have been dealing with different boats, always expanding the size and number of boats I own, now it offers me not my “bread and butter” but “bread and caviar”, metaphorically speaking.
What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
I have a quiet demeanor as a person and as a captain. I don’t lose my composure easy. In case something challenging comes up, I will breathe and count till ten. Being in the sea has taught me the power of the Supreme Being. I have had my challenges, but I never ran away from them.
How are you trying also to keep up with your personal knowledge and skills levels?
Because of my curiosity, I have honed my knowledge and skills over the years and I still do this now.
What are your strengths?
The feeling of safety and care for others, like if the sea is rough I would not go out for a trip. The other day, I cancelled a trip for a group of local Chinese families that each year book a trip. It wasn’t a wise thing to do. I am very meticulous in explaining the in’s and out’s of my boat to my guests for example and do the safety drills just like in an airplane. And to prepare myself for emergencies, for example, I train via audio my sub conscious mind not to panic in case of emergencies. I have a sail, rowing peddles, extra batteries etc..
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
I love music, I can play a guitar and love to listen to good music. Any kind of music but my favorite is rock especially the rock genre: “symfonic rock”. Bands like Yes, Pink Floyd and I attended a King Crimson concert in July 2019 fulfilling a deeply held wish for years. All the bandplayers are over the 70 years old, it was awesome.
If you as CheChe would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
Well, in fact I have done this recently as I was in Europe last year and I went with a bustour to Tsjechie. I would say: “..I am from Curaçao, I have educated myself to be able to communicate with you and enjoy my stay in your country, I offer tours in Curaçao on a boat and whenever you visit our island you are most welcome to contact me.”
How would you describe CheChe in one word or one sentence?
I am a very enthusiastic person with lots of Faith. I persevere and I will never say that something is not possible and I will say, let’s do what we have to do, to achieve our goals now!
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career?
My grandmother as an entrepreneur;
My father for teaching me the importance to have a network and knows contactpersons in every organization and realm possible;
My closest friend, we know each other for over 50 years now that I can go to anytime and express whatever I want when I need to and vise versa I will always be available for him.
I have some other friends and all of them have the same Capricorne sign and we all differ maybe 2 or 3 days in our dates of birth. We are very attuned to one another. In the past when we were young (17, 18 years old), we used to come together and play the guitar from 7 till 10 pm and then we would start our discussions on any kind of topics. Because of my curiosity I have read the Bible, all sort of topics filosophical and psychological topics, I listen to the words in songs, new age music and music of all genres.
What is a trait that is still work in progress?
I have always tried to be my best version. I would say trying to enjoy life as much as possible after all these years of work, travel, travel the world more.
What was a defining moment in your life?
The birth of my second child, that was a miracle. The birth of the first child I wasn’t there during her birth.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 10 years from now on your birthday celebration?
Well I would be 78 years old, I would like them to say that: “He is a goalgetter, what he puts himself to do, he accomplishes; he thinks in solutions and his fantasies have no limits; He does it “his” way..”.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
That there are still people whom want to lead our country in the midsts of big turmoils. If we change our perspective from negative to positive, things would be a lot different. As a captain I know that the real craftsmanship of captain’s surface when the sea is rough. I am an optimist, no matter what. Look at what has been achieved, we got a new operator at CDM, we got a new hospital and we have a new operator/owner of the refinery. That is what makes me stay optimistic.
For more info on Angèle fun and party boat
One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao
Sidney Don CheChe Simons is an autodidact and a very curious entrepreneur who has a lifelong passion for the sea. This passion has driven him to do multiple jobs and work in his life, but as a goalgetter, he willed himself to accomplish his dreams. As an opportunity thinker, Don CheChe thinks in solutions and his fantasies have no limits. By gradually honing his skills and knowledge about the sea, boats and entrepreneurship combined with what he was taught by his grandmother, that is to save Ang 1,- for every Ang 10,- he earned, has made him become an owner of multiple boats. Nowadays, what stands out is that Captain CheChe Simons now shares his life long passion for the sea with his guests on his boat Angèle with this motto: “Any fantasy near or @ sea”. There are no limits from sun set, sun rise along the coast, moonlight trips, mostly in groups. Don CheChe offers those. His optimism and independent mindset, he always does it “his” way, makes him in our eyes a role model of perseverance and uniqueness in our society. We deeply respect and love Don CheChe and we consider him a worthy representative of the business sector and one of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao.