Life Aboard the Orion

Edwin Butter is a HSE certified commercial diver and a pilot. He has traveled around the world for the past 15 years now and experienced wildlife in different regions from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Marjo Boertien is a business consultant and has sailed and lived on a boat for the past four years, and experienced the outdoors by hiking, kayaking, biking and rafting. Marjo & Edwin are now on a journey around the world and along the way are collecting data for ASC’s microplastics and humpback whale  projects. We recently sat down w/ Marjo to hear more about their journey.

Orion under full sail.

ASC: Tell us a bit more about your journey and the route you plan to take.

M&E: A sailing trip around the world is about as exciting and adventurous as it gets! It is actually not a journey but a way of life. We simply chose to live in a small apartment that floats, and has an enormous backyard: the world! Of course we do have a certain route that we would like to follow, but as it turns out at the moment, that can change overnight. For example: our plan was to sail from the south coast of UK to Spain and then, down the west coast of Portugal and from Lisboa, head for the Canary Islands. Currently we are in the south of Portugal on the border of Spain on a beautiful river called Guadiana, because a guy we met told us it was not to be missed. So instead of heading further south, we took a detour east, and it has been well worth it.

ASC: What motivated you to plan such a monumental voyage – and how long do you guess you’ll be at it for?

M&E: Edwin has been living on a boat (off and on) for the past two decades, has circumnavigated twice, which says a lot about his motivation… Marjo has always wanted to travel, never thought of sailing though, and meeting Edwin and his lifestyle 5 years ago was enough to motivate her….We will be at it as long as we enjoy it. Which we hope will be for a long time.

Marjo & Edwin, proud supporters of ASC.

ASC: How long have you been sailing? Has the sea always been a part of your lives?

M&E: Edwin has been sailing for some 30 years now, Marjo has been part of it for 5 years. The sea has played a part in Edwin’s life also by his diving activities, both as a commercial diver and as a sport diver. He has also spent a lot of time picking up anything about marine biology.
ASC: What are you most looking forward to about your trip around the world?

M&E: That is a hard question to answer! Being on our way is already enough, there are so many things happening along the way that are inspiring, challenging, beautiful, nice, etc. etc.
ASC: Have you always had an interest in science and conservation?

M&E: Yes, certainly. For Edwin it has always been a part of his diving and sailing career. Marjo has hiked, biked and canoed a lot, which got her interested in conservation. But it is more than that. What is becoming more and more obvious is that everything is interrelated and that humans have a tremendous effect on life on the planet. Needless to say that that effect has not been positive in the past decades. Living on a sailing boat makes that more visible. Furthermore it is our wish to contribute to raising more awareness among people how they can contribute to a healthier planet.

First dolphins around the boat.

ASC: What role do you see ASC playing in this experience? What about our projects excites you? 

M&E: When we started preparing our journey we wanted to give it more meaning than ‘just’ traveling around the world, we wanted to give back something positive to the sea that gives us the ultimate possibility to travel around freely. Rather than inventing a new movement we looked for ways how we could support great initiatives that deserve a boost, and that would match our passions and activities. ‘Support the supporters’  so to say. No wonder your organization showed up! What we think is great is the way you create a circle: by involving more and more people in collecting data, you automatically create more knowledge and thus more awareness.That is exactly what we aim to achieve in our diving and teaching activities.
ASC: What do you think your biggest challenge will be?

M&E: So far the biggest challenge is not to get stuck too long in one place, because there are always many reasons to stay, and just one to go: because there is more to discover and experience.

Common dolphins around the bow.

ASC: Do you miss land at all when you are at sea?

M&E: Yes and no. Of course after days at sea it is nice to feel soil under your feet again, and of course it is nice when cooking, going to the toilet, moving around can be done in an environment that is not moving ALL the time. Then again, there is nothing like sunsets at sea, stars all around you from horizon to horizon and traveling on waves and winds surrounded by marine wildlife. But one of the funniest things to discover was that at sea I really long for ‘earthy’ foods like carrots and potatoes.
ASC: Can you tell us what a day on the yacht looks like?

M&E: There is no such thing as an ordinary day on a yacht. First of all it depends on where you are. Let me give you some examples: At anchor, you are on your own island, with a dinghy as a connection to shore. Going ashore needs organising and planning with the whole crew. It involves anchor watches to make shore that you stay in a safe place. In a marina, that is obviously a lot easier, you just tie your ropes to some clamps, hop on land and that’s it.

A boat is like a child, she needs constant TLC. Of course you can plan maintenance, but then again, anything can break down at any given moment given the effects of sun, salt and sand.

Being at sea, sailing is another different ballgame. Actually, at least a couple of ballgames. First of all, the weather is the dominant factor on what a day looks like. How much wind is there and from which direction? What is the state of the sea? Nice and fluent or choppy? Where are we? Tropics of arctics? All these things have their effect on a day.

Most of all there is no such thing as day and night, other than that either the sun of the moon shines. Meaning that everything you do in your daily life goes on 24 hours a day, like cooking, taking a shower, sleeping, baking bread, checking equipment, navigation and so on.


Marjo checking course and position.

ASC: Who are your role models? Did any of the early explorers inspire you?

M&E: Shackleton is, just like Jacques Cousteau. Paul Watson from Sea Shepherd for his focus and determination. Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle is very inspiring. But most of all we are inspired by fellow travelers that live an intense and simple life, accepting all circumstances and taking every possibility as the greatest present and enjoying every single moment.

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