This paper is written in recognition of the contributions that Maarten Bavinck has made to the field of maritime studies and for the inspiration that he has been for many. It is hard to separate Maarten’s academic and institution-building contributions from his personal qualities, particularly his interest in human relationships. Maarten’s aptitude for building bridges between people, ideas, and institutions has allowed him to connect people in larger knowledge generation and action projects and forge new conceptual bridges. In addition to reflecting shortly on Maarten's key role in establishing the Centre for Maritime Research (MARE) as a institutional anchor in maritime studies, this paper reviews on some of his important and original contributions to four academic domains: legal pluralism, interactive governance, the study of fisheries conflicts, and the environment-development interface. Common threads across these domains include his long-term commitment to meticulous fieldwork in South Asia that grounds his work so firmly, his focus on achieving a more socially just use of marine and coastal resources, and his pragmatic approach that has led to original connections across distinct conceptual and institutional fields.