Supporting our oceans


Bouwe Bekking

Professional sailor, eight time participant of the Volvo Ocean Race, captain of team Brunel


Bouwe’s Facebook page

“Plastic is killing our oceans. If we don’t take action it will have a huge negative impact on all life on our planet! Do something about it, a great begin is to start looking at your own behavior regarding the usage of plastic…”

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“Especially the sailing community shall be leading into creating  awareness how bad the situation is with our oceans. We see with our own eyes when we are on the water how much plastic there is. From my first round the world race in 1985  to my last one, it was there night and day. There are now hardly any areas anymore where you don’t see plastic in the water daily.  Therefore we sailors should do everything in our power to create awareness. But we should lead also by example: for example a very simple thing, banning your own usage of plastic bags and plastic bottles.  Be active as well with the clean up, when I see a piece of plastic I pick it up and throw it in a rubbish bin.”

Anoûl Hendriks

Radio DJ at SLAM!


Anoûl’s Twitter account

“Sailing with the team of By the Ocean we Unite on their first expedition my eyes were opened to worldwide plastic pollution. My first contribution: nowadays in our radio studio we drink everything from paper mugs, instead of plastic. We can’t live without coffee at the radio, but we sure can without plastic. I support this great team in their battle against plastic pollution!”

Jan Terlouw

Writer, environmentalist, former politician

“We have created an enormous plastic soup in three oceans and we have over-fished many species of fish. I support the mission of By the Ocean we Unite: preventing plastic pollution. Together we strive for a future with healthy oceans on an earth worth living in.”

Eddy Zoëy

Musician, television- and radiomaker


Eddy’s website

“It cannot be true that our use of unnecessary plastics comes so naturally, in and around our products. Why does a cucumber wrapped in plastic, cost more than one that isn’t? Why do mangoes need 2 layers of plastics when presented in the supermarkets; 1 harder plastic cup, and a cellophane wrapping? And even if that…”

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“would be because of the ripening process, couldn’t supermarkets unwrap them for us? Why are we the ones who have to take off the rubbish? There has to be a way in which we can reduce our plastic use earlier in the process. If we could, we would save earth in so many ways. Until that day is near we need people like the volunteers of By the Ocean we Unite! This amazing group of people is needed to spread awareness about plastic pollution, and the need to reduce our plastic use. They feel the same way I do: let’s all keep our trash to a minimum!”

Ziggy Alberts

Independent musician


Ziggy’s website

Check out Ziggy’s video message about our documentary: By the Ocean we Unite – An Awareness Journey into Plastic Pollution

Kiko Matthews

Fastest female to row solo unsupported across the Atlantic


Kiko’s website

”Our oceans, like the rest of our environment, is crucial for life. Marine life is just the tip of the iceberg. Whole ecosystems are being affected by our shocking behaviour and I believe education and engaging in those environments is the way forward. It was such a great experience both..”

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educationally and as a relaxing holiday with purpose and believe that BTOWU has really hit the nail on the head with what they are doing. Here’s to international relations in helping build a much needed community around the topic.”

Kiko joined our Expedition Denmark 2018 in preparation for her own plastic campaign in the UK in 2019:

Jan Beijer

Zwerfafvalraper en klimaatactivist



“I’m worried about the climate because it’s my future and I don’t want to live on a plastic island. That’s why I like to help By The Ocean We Unite to make the world a bit better together. I often go to climate protests, I always pick up plastic from the street and when I’m on the water with the water scouts I always do my best to fish plastic out of the..”

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“water, my whole boat always helps. I also try to use as little plastic as possible and together with my father and brother I have a company that sells luffa’s, a vegetable scouring sponge. I also have a great love for sea creatures of which I would hate to see them die out because of over fishing and plastic in the sea.”

Permanent sailing crew

 Huub Veeneman

Captain of the Fantastiko

“In 2013 I bought an amazing ship: the sea sailing-expedition-ship ‘Fantastiko’. This big vessel has been build in a youth-project by the Dutch government, the province of North-Holland. Hundreds of young people and professionals created this beautiful ship to prepare it for inspiring sailing expeditions. I quit my job and started sailing on the sea with people, my big dream. In 2015, I met Thomas. What a motivating and young visionary..”

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“..who creates, with his great team, new ideas about saving and contributing to our planet Earth. I am impressed by how this organization is communicating with people and their vision for new possibilities for the world.

Therefore, me, my ship and my crew are happy to contribute to the goals and the inspiring sailing expeditions of By The Ocean We Unite.”

Anna Hagemann & Aart Puper

Captains of the Lauwerszee & Store Baelt (Dutch Wadden Sea)

”Since 2012 we are the proud owners of the sailing passenger ship “Lauwerszee”. We offer sailing trips to the Dutch islands over the Unesco World Heritage waters the Waddenzee. The Waddenzee is an important habitat for many fish, birds, shells and seals. The shallow and relatively warm water of the Waddenzee offers a rich diversity of sea life..”

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..and is of great ecological value.

In 2016 we came in contact with By the Ocean we Unite. Their story was a real eye opener:

The fact that 88 % of the surface of the ocean is polluted with miniscule pieces of plastic and causes many sea life to die; And the fact that the amount of plastic ending up in our oceans keeps growing, knowing that the plastic will never disappear out of the ecosystem, makes it into one of the biggest environmental problems of our times.

We are very happy we can contribute to awareness of this problem by offering sailing expeditions in cooperation with by the ocean we unite, showing the beauty of the Waddenzee and creating awareness of the problem that is threatening our sea life.”


Mate on Fantastiko, Lauwerszee and Store Baelt

“Sailing is my love, my life. I really love to be on the water, on the move, on my way to somewhere over there. It doesn’t really matter where that place might be. Up to Norway 2016 has been the first expedition I joined for By the Ocean we Unite. I loved the atmosphere aboard. Lovely happy people with a mission. They have a goal which they are trying to achieve in a positive manner…”

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“They made me be aware of the problem about plastic. Eversince the trip I feel like I can make a difference. Together we can do.”

Expedition members

Pieter Ghysels

Expedition Scotland (2017)

”We’ve been with BTOWU since the beginning. We know the difficulty of getting those
wheels in motion. Seeing the organization grow and gain momentum is very inspiring. It’s
our pleasure to be working together and we fully support the positive energy they spread. After having joined the expedition as mate I started Atlasail; all about getting people on the water. We believe sailing is a darn nice way to spend your days. Atlasail is a platform that brings the ships and sailors together..”

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”..There are a lot of beautiful sailing ships making a lot of beautiful trips. A sailing boat is the perfect combination of technique and nature, but would it be without the people… There is where Atlasail comes in.””

Fosca Poltronieri

Expedition Denmark (2018)

”The adventure of a lifetime! Sailing from Copenhagen to Rotterdam with the BTOWU team was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. When I booked the trip, I was looking for adventure, one that not only fed my need for adrenaline but one which could also welcome my 80 year old Italian grandmother (aka Nonna). I had to find the best of the best. Nonna has always loved adventure, and she had always wanted to sail the north seas so naturally when i asked her if she..”

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”..wanted to join, she didn’t hesitate to say ‘oh Fosca, yes of course but your cousin Sofia must come to help, I’m a little wobbly lately!’. The BTOWU team really made the trip for us. We cannot thank you enough. For me, life is really about spending time in nature and the human connection. Karl’s attentive care and organisation was outstanding, Meike’s vegetarian/vegetarian/gluten free/lactose free delicious meals surprised us every day. Our Captain Huub always made sure we felt safe. Roos’s friendly smile and expertise in explaining all there is to know about researching the plastic soup. Sigrid who literally taught us the ropes of sailing and Wieteke who brought the real Dutch sailing spirit on board. Niels and Hanna from Cinetree filming for National Geographic brought an extra flare of magic while bringing things back to reality, reminding us of how important the mission really was. And our fellow sailors who have now become friends for life. In short, I could really write a book about the trip. But to you the reader, if you are looking for a life changing adventure, one which brings real meaning to time while encompassing moments of laughter, learning,  dance, fun, quiet and nature. Look no further. Nonna had perhaps her last earthly adventure thanks to BTOWU, there was not reason for her to say no. Let the bravery of the seas invite you, the urgency of plastic encourage you, and may the winds always be in your favor!”

Fop Leder

Expedition Denmark (2018)

”What started as a sailing trip to Copenhagen organized by BTOWU became a voyage of awareness and commitment inspired by a great team of young people from various backgrounds and nationalities. Having sailed the oceans for the past 50 years I have seen international shipping as a forerunner to minimize pollution by garbage, oil and exhaust management. Nevertheless I have seen the Oceans and Ports more and more polluted by plastic garbage of..”

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”..all kinds. Our day to day life became saturated with plastic products which is not going away any time soon! What we can do and must do is a responsible use, collection, disposal and recycling of plastics. Don’t be a Prisoner or Tourist but an Explorer and Participant!

Arjan Brouwer

Expedition The Channel (2017)

”I am very honoured to have participated in part of the Sailing Expedition The Channel 2017, from Dover to Brighton. Plastic pollution is one of the biggest threats to our planet and we are only just discovering to what extent tiny plastic particles are threatening our daily lives by just drinking water or eating fish. The research conducted by BTOWU is a great way to collect more data and input..”

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” convince even the most skeptical or ignorant that we urgently need to change the way we produce, use and dispose of all kinds of plastics we just use for convenience. I would love to be a full member of a future expedition, not only to support the BTOWU mission but also because the team are an amazing bunch of people who love to sail, sing and dance!” – Arjan Brouwer, Crew Member, Clipper Round the World 17-18, team Visit Seattle

Estrella Brand

Expedition Up to Norway (2016) (mate & photographer)

”The only place I really get to feel alive is when I am on the water. Don’t you know that feeling; that when you are standing at the waterfront, on the beach, every worry in the world just seems to disappear?
Our oceans are powerful and they connect everything. Our oceans are the lungs of this world. Without it we wouldn’t exist. Not only because of the..”

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”..biological systems, but also because we found purpose in our oceans.
Through sailing expedition, colonization and trading we learned about different cultures and nature and created the modern world! Sailing with By The Ocean We Unite is a great adventure with amazing people who still believe in purpose. Our oceans represent life itself. Let’s unite to turn the tides, the oceans are yours too.”

Nadim Bou-Rached

Expedition Up to Norway (2016)

“By the Ocean we Unite has given me an unforgettable journey “Up to Norway”; a beautiful sailing experience combined with contributing for cleaner/plastic free oceans. The trip was very well organized with valuable information upfront, a balanced program during the trip and good attention afterwards. I have got to know a lot of beautiful minds and I am far more aware about our plastic consumption and how to reduce it!”

 Rob Koetsier

Expedition Up to Norway (2016)

“Hi, my name is Rob Koetsier, I am forester at Staatsbosbeheer in the Netherlands (I take care of nature reserves) and I was one of the four expedition member of the first By the Ocean we Unite trip to Norway. Through my work I am confronted daily with a serious problem: litter. Litter that for the largest part consists of plastic. Most of it is being left behind heedlessly in our nature reserves. On an annual base we’re talking huge volumes…”

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“Part of it is being cleaned by workers, but part of it also ends up in our oceans. I wanted so see with my own eyes what effect that has. And then I figured, what better way than to find that out sailing across our North Sea? That’s why I decided to join the first expedition of By the Ocean we Unite. During the trip we collected and analysed surface water samples. I found it shocking how many tiny plastic particles you can filter from the water of our North Sea, which looks pretty clean at first sight. Everyone should be made aware of this. By the Ocean we Unite increases this awareness and I fully supported that. Let’s all try to make this world, our land and our oceans a bit cleaner, because this pollution is unnecessary.”

Fabio Bartali

Expedition Up to Norway (2016)

This trip has been impressive in so many ways, the BTOWU crew has been very inspiring with their views and gave the expedition members a lot to think about. I already knew there is a lot of plastic waste, but during our trip up to Norway it became clear to me that it’s a lot worse than we all think. Minute particles of plastic are everywhere and end up in places where you least expect it. There are things you can do about plastic pollution, there’s..”

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”..still a long journey ahead but with By the Ocean we Unite at the helm we’re heading in the right direction!”

Patricia Villarrubia

Expedition Up to Norway (2016)

During expedition Up to Norway, and the experiences that followed it up, I’ve learned how much we underestimate the power of individual acts. “Up to Norway” is a clear example of how we ALL can improve, create and implement solutions, just by sharing information and applying small changes in our daily life. From the knowledge of senior researchers at Bergen University to the spontaneous acts driven by..”

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”..passion of primary school kids, we can all learn from each other and do something. Improving the health of our marine ecosystems is in our hands, here and now. I was impressed by the response of the BTOWU crew and the expedition members; never mind our previous backgrounds (university teacher, a radio DJ, an environmental scientist, sailor or filmmaker) we all came together open minded to talk, share and work in one of the major environmental and social problems we have to face nowadays”