Captain Matthew James Manninen Jr. & Chef Jennica Ojander
Matthew is from Birmingham, Michigan, a midwestern town rich in history and steeped in family values, 20 miles outside of Detroit. His family enjoyed boating on Lake Loraine and he was already learning the ropes at the age of five. As a child he was involved in lots of sports; skiing, fishing, hunting, canoeing, rock climbing, American football, soccer, baseball, and basketball. He even held the State record for hurdles in the 8th grade. Having the energy to master all sorts of challenges is something Matthew naturally excels at.
As an adult, Matthew added to his already impressive list of talents with a variety of jobs, each of which required specialized skills. He was a whitewater raft guide for 6 years in Colorado, a waiter at The Grub Steak restaurant in Estes Park, Colorado, a professional bartender at multiple bars in Austin, Texas, a professional musician for 15 years in Colorado and Austin, owned a record label and recording studio called Stardust Drive in Austin, Texas and was involved in real estate development. All successful accomplishments, which he left behind to follow his dream and sail to the Caribbean.
Guests aboard SAMORU are in excellent hands. Captain Matthew has been chartering in the Exuma Cays for eight years and knows all the best spots. He is certified as an MCA Master of Yachts 200t/500t OOW, Bahamian Class A License, STCW 95, Security Awareness with Designated Duties, ENG1, PADI Open Water and VHF Radio Operator. He says his favorite place on earth to sail is the Bahamas, especially the Exumas, “because it has the clearest water in the world and every shade of Blue. I fell in love with the Bahamas eight years ago and it’s my home. To this day I’m still mesmerised by its beauty, charmed by the friendliness of the locals and in awe of all the Exuma blue. Charter with Matthew and discover living by his motto: Another Best Day Ever!
Jennica grew up in the little town of Salem, south of Stockholm, Sweden. She was the youngest of three girls, highly intelligent and always a bit restless. She wanted to see the world, and she had a plan. She says, “I worked almost day and night at my job with Autistic children to save up enough money to go backpacking. I started in India by myself at the age of 20. I was only going for six months, but ended up staying for two years in the Himalayas, Rajasthan and Goa. Then I moved to Australia. I started working as a cowgirl on a ranch, since I had experience with horses, but ended up working in restaurants.”
In fact, Jennica had more than experience with horses. Back in Salem she had spent most of her time at the stables and was an accomplished show jumper. However, she discovered even more than she loved horses, she loved cooking for people. She started taking cooking classes all over the world and even had a job as a chef in India. Guests aboard Samoru will have a rare culinary opportunity to sample a truly international menu. Among her most popular dishes, “smorgastarta”, Jennica explains, “is a lunch that introduces guests to Swedish culture. It’s a big sandwich cake, decorated with beautiful colors and delicious meats and cheeses. People always want seconds.”
Jennica and Captain Matthew get enthusiastic reviews from their guests. They plan wonderful activities; fishing, snorkeling, sailing, shore excursions and fabulous food. The last night of the charter they host a bonfire on the beach, with ribs on the fire and smores for deserts. Jennica says, “This is something that our guests always rave about, since they didn’t expect it. It allows families to really connect with each other. We eat good food, play some live music, and talk about the highlights of the trip.” Just “Another Best Day Ever”!
Join the Captain and Chef for the experience of a lifetime!
Matthew and Jennica at one of the many caves to be explored in Exuma.