Emily Penn is the incredible Co-Founder and Mission Director of eXXpedition, a series of all-women voyages to 'make the unseen seen'.
Emily has spent the last 8 years leading global expeditions – taking everyday individuals to the most remote parts of the planet, to connect with the challenges facing our ocean, primarily focusing on ocean plastics.
Her latest all-woman voyage has just begun, Round the World - over 2 years, 30 voyages, with 300 women.
We had the pleasure to talk to Emily just days before she set sail -
Tell us about your connection with the sea?
I've always been drawn to the beach - from my childhood obsession with shell collecting on Cornish holidays, to now my obsession with picking up plastic! I spent my teenage years racing small sailing dinghies. Then, at the first opportunity after leaving University, I set off across the Atlantic ocean by boat, because I thought taking a plane to a new job in Australia would mean I’d miss the magical bits in between. And I was right! I fell in love with the ocean and that journey changed my life. My focus has been around ocean protection, specifically plastic pollution, ever since.
Where’s your favourite place to embrace the sea and why?
From the bow of a boat. Looking down to watch the ultramarine rush under the boat, the white bow wake leaping to the side and, at night, the phosphorescence dancing off the waves. If you're lucky dolphins appear, weaving back and forth, leading the way.
What’s your fondest sea memory?
Sailing across the equatorial Pacific islands - hopping from one reef to the next, catching fresh fish for dinner, diving on corals the size of buses, watching the frigate birds soar above our heads and the endless sunsets, moon rises and everything in between!
What sparked your passion for tackling micro-plastics in the sea?
I jumped off the bow of the boat into seemingly clear blue water but when I surfaced I was completely surrounded by fragments of plastic. At the time, I was 800 miles from land and it didn't make any sense – where had they come from, what impact were they having and how could we do something about it? That was 12 years ago, and I've worked every day since to try and solve the problem.
You, the sea and the future…what do you envisage the sea will be like in 2050?
There's a forecast that shows if we carry on the same as we are today, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Eeek! But it's in our power to not let that happen. There is incredible awareness on the plastics issue right now, so let's turn that awareness into action. The ocean is resilient and has an amazing ability to recover, if we give it a chance to do so. So, I'm optimistic.
How can ‘everyday sea lovers’ make a difference?
Eliminate single-use plastic from your life! Everyday we use plastic, a material that lasts forever, for something designed to be used once and then thrown away. Let's reduce that single-use plastic and inspire those around us to do the same.
Which of our latest collection would be your ultimate sea companion?
The Turquoise Herringbone Wool Blanket. I feel the cold easily and so wool is the only answer. This is the perfect blanket to cosy up under at night above or below deck. But most of all this colour is the one that takes my breath away when I sail into a lagoon surrounded by sea green.
On the 8th October the crew set off on their maiden voyage from Plymouth to Azores on the first leg of their Round the World expedition. Follow Emily and the crew's journey on their website, where you can track the boat or via social media with daily updates -