Expedition Denmark 2018

Sailing, researching and explaining the plastic soup!


Wednesday August 1, 2018, we set sail for Denmark on the fourth and fifth By the Ocean we Unite sailing expedition for cleaner oceans. Together with scientists, filmmakers and impactmakers from around the globe we conducted scientific research, increased global awareness and activated people, organizations and governments to work on solutions for our global plastic problem.

Leg 1: Rotterdam (the Netherlands) – Copenhagen (Denmark) (August 1 – August 10)

Leg 2: Copenhagen (Denmark) – Rotterdam (the Netherlands) (August 13 – August 22)

”My invitation to you: join these guys on one of their expeditions, it’s an awesome experience!” – Anoûl Hendriks, DJ @ Talpa Radio (538 Hitzone)

”This trip has been impressive in so many ways, the By the Ocean we Unite crew has been very inspiring with their views and gave the expedition members a lot to think about” – Fabio Bartali, expedition member @ 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” – Nadim Bou-Rached, expedition member @ Expedition Up to Norway 2016

National Geographic series ”Plastic Sailors”

  •  Plastic Sailors

Dutch filmmaker and social entrepeneur Hanna Verboom joined us on the expedition. She and cameraman Niels Gross (Matemade) made a series of 5 videos about the people and life on board.

I didn’t expect the Baltic Sea to be this polluted. Tiny pieces of plastic everywhere.

Expedition Denmark 2018
Main goals
  • sparking the love for the beautiful waters of this planet
  • conducting scientific research into plastics in our waters (in collaboration with a variety of institutes)
  • increasing international awareness on the saturation of our waters with (small) plastic particles and what we can do about it (the research is a means to do so)
  • exchanging knowledge
  • taking people with us in a fun and active way to grow the movement of Ocean Ambassadors
  • creating public engagement to instigate change
The ship

Sailing ship ”Fantastiko” (see pictures below) is a beautiful 26-meter long two-master ketch. It is perfectly suited for sea sailing expeditions! We have used the ship for all our major expeditions.

The vessel was built at a specialized shipyard, Chinook in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The construction, from 2002 till 2012, was carried out as a Youth Care project of the province of North-Holland. Two hundred youngsters build the ship together with dozens of experts. The Fantastiko received a Register Holland quality label. The fully equipped ship offers room for 15 persons.

By the Ocean we Unite charters sea sailing ship ”Fantastiko” including professional crew for every expedition. Click here for more information on floating hotel Fantastiko.

”I want as many people as possible to enjoy the endless possibilities of this ship. My mission is for people to be able to fully relax and enjoy when we’re out on the water. Maybe they can even discover new sides of themselves. It gives so much energy and inspiration to for example be sailing at open sea in the middle of the night and watch the stars while drinking a cup of coffee, or watch a dolphin that suddenly swims along with the ship.” – Captain Huub Veeneman

He knew..

wedding dresses UKAll of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.” – John F. Kennedy

Media coverage

videos by: Guido van Olffen

Our documentary – please share! 🙂
Program on land

Rotterdam (The Netherlands) – Wednesday August 1

Sail out: 1pm – join the first nautical miles on the rive maas, call Karl at 0031-6-18632023

Skagen (Denmark) – Sunday August 5

Ship open to visitors

Beach Cleanup

Public lecture


Roskilde (Denmark) – Tuesday August 7 

Ship open to visitors

Visit to lab Roskilde University

Public lecture


Copenhagen (Denmark) – Monday August 13

Public lecture and network event @ UN City

Ship open to visitors


Marstal (Denmark) – Thursday August 16

Beach Cleanup

Kiel (Germany) – Friday & Saturday August 17 & 18

Public lecture

Visit to lab GEOMAR

Texel (the Netherlands) – Tuesday August 21

Visit to lab NIOZ

Rotterdam (the Netherlands) – Wednesday August 22

Arrival @ harbor: 10am (planned)

Program on board

Our experienced and enthusiastic crew ran an extensive program on sailing, the marine environment and of course, plastic. Participants could immerse themselves in lectures, discussions, workshop. They were also invited to actively help conducting our research.

How to join in the future

WE WERE FULLY BOOKED! Any questions? Want to be put on the mailing list for future expeditions? Get in touch with Karl Beerenfenger (project manager & expedition leader): +31 (0)6-18632023 or karl@bytheoceanweunite.org

Meet the crew
  • Sigrid Burg
    Sigrid Burg MATE

    Sailing means a lot to me. Away from the endless stimuli I love to explore our fascinating, beautiful, scary, endless oceans. It makes me feel grand and futile at the same time. At sea we must forget about our continuing effort to make our world feasible. Here we are subject to natures law, forced to go back into survival mode. The best way to feel alive! Ever since I sailed the (Ant)arctic seas I have come to the conclusion that whatever you do to be an asset to a better environment makes a difference. However small that contribution. I am proud to be part of this team, to make a contribution, together. By sharing our stories, others will create their own. And from there we will make a huge difference.”

    Joining leg 2

  • Ramon Mur
    Ramon Mur MATE

    This is my first expedition! The plastic problem came to my knowledge during a course at school and ever since I’ve been following the topic. I invite you to join my watch, so we can get to know each other, learn from each other and of course have a lot of fun. Let’s stop the flow of plastics together!

    Joining leg 1

  • Meike Rijksen

    ”Hi there! During the second leg of this expedition, I’ll make sure your bellies are filled with delicious food. Really looking forward to this trip! Besides making smoothies and whipping up pasta’s, I’m also a biologist working as a plastics campaigner for Greenpeace. So joining this amazing journey sort of feels like meant to be :-). See you soon!”

    Joining leg 2

  • Roos Swart
    Roos Swart Scientific research coordinator

    ”Are you always wondering about marine life? So am I! After having had the most interesting conversations on our Mini Expeditions this past year, I will finally participate in a Major Expedition! I hope you are as excited as I am and look forward to sharing ocean stories and contributing to research, awareness and action around plastic pollution.

    Joining leg 2

  • Noortje Schrauwen
    Noortje Schrauwen Catering/hospitality
    After many ‘Mini Expeditions’ this will be my first major expedition! As an anthropologist I’m very interested in the social aspects and behavioral change and first and foremost very much looking forward to cater for everyone’s needs on board the ship 🙂 Please be welcome in ‘my’ kitchen 🙂

    Joining leg 1

  • Karl Beerenfenger
    Karl Beerenfenger Expedition Leader

    The fourth By the Ocean we Unite North Sea expedition and it’s going to be an exciting one (ok, they all were :)). With the EU now also targeting plastic pollution these are the times to immerse our passengers and followers in the beauty of our waters and the challenge that stands before us; plastic pollution.”

    Joining leg 1 & 2

    Joined all Major Expeditions so far


  • Nanne van Hoytema
    Nanne van Hoytema Scientific Research Coordinator

    Having been part of all major expeditions so far, I can’t wait for our upcoming voyage around Denmark. Seeing a group of strangers come together on board and giving them the tools to understand and take action against plastic pollution makes each of these expeditions a great experience. Sailing around Denmark will allow us to complete our sampling of North Sea waters and will be our first foray into the Baltic Sea. The Skagerrak is known for high levels of beach litter, so we are eager to sample those waters and compare them against our North Sea data so far.”

    Joining leg 1

    Joined all Major Expeditions so far

  • Wieteke
    Wieteke Mate

    ”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. 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.”

    Joining leg 1 & 2

    Joined all Major Expeditions so far

  • Huub Veeneman
    Huub Veeneman Skipper

    In 2015, I met Thomas. What a motivating and young visionary 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.

    Joining leg 1 & 2

    Joined all Major Expeditions so far

News updates
Plastic Change co-organizer Expedition Denmark 2018!
Plastic Change co-organizer Expedition Denmark 2018!

Danish-based NGO Plastic Change is stepping on board Expedition Denmark 2018 as co-organizer. As a figure of speech as well as literally. 🙂

We have sometimes called them the Danish By the Ocean we Unite – better would be to call us the Dutch Plastic Change – as they have been working to reduce plastic pollution among others by sailing the world’s seas and oceans. Plastic Change was founded in April 2014 by marine biologist and sailor Henrik Beha Pedersen – at the same time as our Thomas was preparing for his Atlantic crossing where he would meet with the plastic bottle in the middle of the ocean, leading him to start our foundation two years later.

We are happy and proud to co-organize the program in Denmark with the experienced team of Plastic Change. Their extensive network and knowledge makes for the perfect partner to reach out to as many people as possible. From Skagen till Aeroe they will have one of their crew members on board, to support the expedition.


Atlantic solo rowing record holder Kiko Matthews joins the expedition
Atlantic solo rowing record holder Kiko Matthews joins the expedition

In recent years she survived two tumors both which caused a life-threatening illness, called Cushing’s Disease, after which – in March this year – she became the fastest woman to row solo across the Atlantic. It took her only 49 days to row from Gran Canaria to Barbados. Now she has set her mind on fighting plastic pollution, and her participation in Expedition Denmark 2018 is a harbinger for what she has planned in the UK in 2019.

Kiko, now that she is slowly gaining fame, is setting up an extensive campaign around plastic pollution in the UK. Next year she’ll be cycling 6700 km along the shoreline, involving schools and local organisations as well as famous ambassadors for every leg.

Kiko: ”This is such an incredible opportunity for combining my love of the ocean, education, adventure and the environment. What BTOWU are doing is awesome and it’s an amazing link for me, between my ocean row, and my next big challenge involving ocean plastics – this is literally my dream adventure!”

Awesome art-project by Dace Sietina
Awesome art-project by Dace Sietina

Dace Sietina is a Latvian/Dutch cartoonist, photographer, illustrator and stop-motion animator. For her newest project, ”Greenland Chronicles”, she steps on board the Fantastiko as a participant in Expedition Denmark 2018. With the project/action Dace wants inspire people to start seeing their own environment differently and that way learn to honor their surroundings. She believes that we, as humanity, can collectively achieve a lot by taking small individual steps. It might sound idealistic, but she thinks it’s feasible in reality.

Dace: ”August 1, 2018, I will set foot on a sailing boat for the very first time in my life. Between the scientists, ocean enthusiasts and filmmakers, I as an artist am part of the crew. I’m doing this completely uninhibited, purely as an artist: open-minded and unprejudiced. During the expedition I will make a graphic novel with as title ”Underway to Greenland”. This story will share our experiences, findings and happenings on the journey.

When we arrive in Copenhagen I’ll depart for Greenland, to execute manuscript ”Greenland Chronicles”. This project fixates the constant flow of changes happening at this very moment. Also the impact on native cultural heritage is documented in this book.

For the graphic novel ”Underway to Greenland” and for the ”Greenland Chronicles” I will develop a mobile laboratory to process the plastics we into ink and etching plates. This is the first time this is done.

The preparations are in full swing, and I’m very looking forward to joining the expedition. The last large obstacle in this groundbreaking project was getting my very first swimming diploma, which I succeeded in just recently after having lived with fear if water for years and years. I am ready. :)”

Meet our guest researchers
Meet our guest researchers

Every expedition we bring guest researchers to help coordinate the research into plastic pollution. Meet Lisett Kretschmann from Germany and Katie Stevens from the USA, who will accompany us with their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Lisett Kretschmann, joining leg 1: ”I am a true nature lover and hooked to the ocean, fascinated by my work as a chemical engineer on research ships. Monitoring at sea is essential to observe invisible pollutants of our oceans. It is important that people are made aware of these pollutants. Besides plastic you will also find a lot of paraffin wax caused by washing out the residue from the tanks of cargo ships. So far it is not possible to correlate this paraffin wax with its source. In addition to investigating the plastic waste, I am therefore collecting samples to develop a fingerprint method for paraffin wax similar to what is already possible with heavy fuel oil. That is why I am all the more excited to be a part of this great expedition team.”

Katie Stevens, joining leg 2: ”In school I studied biology and environmental science, and since then have become interested in ocean plastic. Over the past few years, I’ve read and researched a lot about the detrimental impact plastic pollution can have on the environment. I’m working to reduce my own plastic usage, but want to have a positive impact that is bigger than myself! I am so excited to join the expedition, to help with plastic research and learn more so I can help others take action against plastic pollution. I love to travel and to sail as well, so I can’t wait to explore these countries by sea!”

Interested in joining a future expedition as a (marine) biologist? To cover the costs we ask half the price of the regular participation fee and you’ll be able to learn how to sail, conduct research into plastics at sea and have once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Send an email to our research coordinator Dr. Nanne van Hoytema: nanne@bytheoceanweunite.org

Incredible photos by Jasper Doest
Incredible photos by Jasper Doest

Last year we had the honor to be joined by one of Holland’s finest nature conservation photographers: Jasper Doest. This inspiring man has won several international prices, emerges in photo competition juries worldwide and, more important even, he is just a very nice (and fun!) guy.

Jasper made an impressive series of photos during Expedition Scotland 2017, displaying the beauty, mystic and challenges of the waters of this planet. The conditions were in his favor, as you can see by the pictures: the sea was like a mirror, the clouds gave a mysterious effect and Scotland offers stunning landscapes. Unfortunately he also caught our catches on camera: myriad tiny plastic particles everywhere in the water and more visible plastics accumulating on beaches.

Haven’t seen the photos yet? Check out this link:


The upper left album! 🙂

By the way: ever looking for a karaoke-artist? Call Jasper. We haven’t seen anyone more talented than him. 🙂

Pay-It-Forward-Fund participants
Pay-It-Forward-Fund participants

When we started out our founder Thomas had a dream: creating a sailing platform for global change regarding our usage of plastic. Even though we lacked funds we wanted to share part of the participation fees for our sailing expeditions with other startups. That’s how he came up with the Pay-It-Forward-Fund (PIFF).

We invite startups working to reduce plastic pollution to join the PIFF, after which we ask them for all the details about the project. On board one of our crew members will lead a one-hour (or longer) discussion about the project. After the expedition the participants decide which startup(s) they want to support.

It’s not all about finance, the setting (on board the Fantastiko at open sea) is perfect for in-depth ideas.

Through our previous three expeditions we’ve backed other projects with a total amount of €4,050.-, plus numerous ideas and relevant contacts.

Organizations sponsored so far: Seaweed farm IJmond, The Great Bubble Barrier, Bahamas Plastic Movement, Eco Bali, Straw by Straw

For Expedition Denmark 2018 the participants in the fund are:

Cleanforgood Foundation

Want to participate in future expeditions’ PIFF? Send an email to karl@bytheoceanweunite.org

Expedition fully booked - join next year's mailing list!
Expedition fully booked - join next year's mailing list!

Wow! All spots are filled. We’ve got a full ship both ways. The crew consists of 4 sailing crew, 1 expedition leader, 1 chef-cook, 2 researchers, 1 filmmaker, 2 impactmakers and 5 very enthusiastic participants.

Want to be a participant in next year’s expedition? Send an email to karl@bytheoceanweunite.org and have your name and email address put on the mailing list!

Hanna Verboom joins part of the expedition
Hanna Verboom joins part of the expedition

Dutch social entrepreneur and filmmaker Hanna Verboom joins the expedition from Copenhagen till Kiel.

Earlier this year Hanna Verboom made an interview series with National Geographic about plastic pollution and she was closely involved in the #stopmetplastic campaign. ‘’The conversations about plastic pollution made a big impression on me. We are addicted to disposable plastic and we often do not understand the effect of this. A great deal of research is needed so that we can properly assess the consequences for people and the environment. Expeditions such as these play an important role in this’’, says Verboom, who participates as a filmmaker.

Hanna (and cameraman Niels Gross from Matemade) will make daily videos about life on board for National Geographic.

Science during Expedition Denmark 2018
Science during Expedition Denmark 2018

On every expedition we contribute to scientific research into plastics at sea, and on land. Our data is shared with a variety of institutes, in order for them to use it to change policy. At the same time the science component is a very direct way for us to show the general public what’s happening in our waters – a means for awareness. Seeing with your eyes (and feeling!) the saturation of the seas with (tiny) plastic particles, while enjoying their rugged beauty, we think is an effective combination to initiate behavioral change.

The data we collect on this expedition will be used for the following research:

– The trawlshare programme of the 5 Gyres institute, a global initiative to gather marine plastics concentration data
– Research by scientists of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research into the microbial biofilm which forms around marine plastics
– An investigation of paraffin pollution in the eastern North Sea
– An ongoing citizen science project on microplastics in beach sands at Leiden University

During the expedition we will visit and collaborate with three research institutes in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands:

– Roskilde University (Denmark) where we’ll meet with Kristian Syberg and his team
– GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany), where we’ll meet with Dr. Töste Tanhua
– NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research), where we’ll meet with Erik Zettler, Linda Amaral-Zettler and their team

Check out the data we’ve collected on our expeditions so far:

Marine Software system OCTOPUS on board the Fantastiko
Marine Software system OCTOPUS on board the Fantastiko

The ABB Ability™ Marine Advisory System – OCTOPUS is a unique product portfolio for performance management in marine operations. It reduces fuel consumption and emissions, and increases availability and safety on a single vessel, or on a whole fleet of vessels.

ABB provided us with the system. Our team, the planned and sailed route and the weather conditions can be now followed live via the website, as well as the results of our research, which will be entered into a dashboard. How cool!

Danish Andrea Elisabeth Rudolph on board Expedition Denmark
Danish Andrea Elisabeth Rudolph on board Expedition Denmark

Danish Andrea Elisabeth Rudolph joins the expedition from Skagen to Roskilde. She’ll be embarking together with Henrik Beha Pedersen, founder of Plastic Change.

Henrik about Andrea: ”I tested her blood for 54 toxic substances years ago. She was the youngest participant of eight celebs (TV host she was at that time) and she was pregnant and she carried most chemicals! Andrea went mad and started campaigning with Plastic Change and changed her career; she founded “Rudolph Care” making eco-beauty products including a great sun screen/cream. Now Andrea want the beauty sector to take responsibility for their packaging/wrapping.. Great story and she’s a true activist :)”

Newsfeed Denmark 2018

An Ocean of Opportunities

Tuesday March 7th 2017 we organized the first edition of ‘An Ocean of Opportunities’, together with the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Jessie Kroon, co-founder of the first Dutch zero [...]

Bahamas Plastic Movement

Maaike de Waele (student Water Management) & Tiffany de Jong went to the Bahamas to raise awareness on plastic pollution for their minor International Cooperation and Sustainable Development. [...]

Main partners By the Ocean we Unite
Supporting partners Expedition Denmark 2018

Want to be become an expedition partner? Call or send an email to Karl Beerenfenger (project manager): +31 (0)6-18632023 / karl@bytheoceanweunite.org 

Supplying partners
Scientific research

We will assist research projects from a range of institutes and universities. We will use a manta trawl to sample free floating sea surface plastics to determine their abundance per sea surface area and we will collect sediment samples from a range of beaches for measurements of plastics along the high tide line.

Since conducting scientific research at sea is usually costly and time consuming, and we are sailing the sea anyway, we will open the ship to any research program that needs samples.

Could we help you out with your research by collecting samples? Please get in touch with Dr. Nanne van Hoytema (research coordinator): info@bytheoceanweunite.org

  • The Ocean Cleanup (the Netherlands)
  • 5 Gyres (United States)
  • Leiden University (the Netherlands)
  • NIOZ (Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) (the Netherlands)
  • Roskilde University (Denmark)
  • GEOMAR – Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (Germany)
Other collaborations

For this expedition we collaborate with several people and organizations from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and other countries to share knowledge and increase our impact.

  • Plastic Change (Denmark)
  • UN Environment (UNEP/DTU partnership) (Denmark)
  • West Coast Maritime Week (Denmark)
  • Skagen Grå Fyr (Denmark)
  • Danish Nature Agency
  • Roskilde Sailing Club (Denmark)
  • Viking Ship Museum Roskilde (Denmark)
  • Saga Shipping (Denmark)
Research partners
Expedition partners
Communication partners
Selection of media coverage (previous expeditions)
Pay-It-Forward-Fund (PIFF)

The powerful energy of giving

Plastic pollution is a global problem which we believe we can only solve by working together and helping where possible. Therefore we created the PIFF: Pay-It-Forward-Fund. It works as following: startups working on reducing plastic pollution can get in touch with us to explain their concept – sometimes we pick organizations we come across ourselves. During the expedition we’ll discuss ideas with the expedition members. All ideas, network and suggestions are forwarded to the organization after the expedition. Also we take part of the participation fee and put it in a fund, of which the expedition members themselves eventually decide which organization(s) they will support financially. Expedition members may also suggest projects themselves, or organize a project together, as long as its main goal is reducing plastic pollution.

10% of the expedition fee is put in the fund. Expedition members of Expedition Denmark 2018 (leg 1 and leg 2) hadt till the end October 2018 to make a decision. Here are the results:

Natr €0,-
Cleanforgood €382,-
Seavents €955,-
Setsink €38,-

Call or send an email to Karl Beerenfenger (project manager): +31 (0)6-18632023 / karl@bytheoceanweunite.org if you want to participate with your organization or project in future expeditions!

PIFF so far: through our previous three expeditions we’ve backed other projects with a total amount of €4,050.-, plus numerous ideas and relevant contacts

Organizations sponsored so far: Seaweed farm IJmond, The Great Bubble Barrier, Bahamas Plastic Movement, Eco Bali, Straw by Straw, Natr, Cleanforgood Foundation, Seavents, Setsink

  • Natr
  • Cleanforgood Foundation
  • Setsink
  • Seavents
PIFF participants
Facts about the expedition!
Nautical Miles (both legs)
Nautical Miles (all expeditions)
Beds on board
+- 20
Whales and dolphins so far
Largest catch (visible pieces of plastic per km2 surface water)
Surface samples microplastic
Surface samples containing microplastics