Chartering a boat this summer doesn’t need to be harmful to the environment. The privilege of being out on the water in nature’s fold comes with the responsibility of treating her well. From plastic bags to petrol in the water, there are hazards that boating can bring to the natural world. Here are some easy tips to make sure your boat’s footprint is as green as possible and you understand the Sailing Code of Environmental Behaviour.
The Three ‘R’s
Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. This well-known mantra is still just as valid onboard. Reducing, first of all, the amount of plastic packaging we take on board with us; Re-using said packaging for other purposes, like refilling water bottles, and; when it has to be thrown out finding a recycling station. This might have to wait until you get to a bigger harbour with recycling facilities. Never throw anything overboard. Even the smallest piece of plastic or one cigarette butt is harmful to the oceans and sea life. You might have to stow your rubbish for a while until you find a suitable spot.
Boat activities on and around the water can lead to water pollution which is harmful to sea life and to us. A reputable yacht charter company will keep the engine well-maintained to prevent oil and fuel leaks. Use an oil absorbent pad in the bilge and under the engine to catch drips. Check these pads often and dispose of them as hazardous waste at a marina.
For oil changes, use an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill-proof container. Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to prevent oil from spilling into the bilge.
Fill fuel tanks slowly and use rags to catch any spills. Be careful not to overflow the fuel tank. Its best to leave the tank 10% empty to allow for expansion as it warms.
Try to use environmentally friendly cleaning and maintenance products on the boat. Especially avoid those containing bleach or chlorine which are known to damage the flora and fauna.
Antifouling scrapings can be collected and disposed of appropriately on shore.
Not many people think of this one, but the soaps, shampoos and sunscreens that we use have chemicals in them that can be harmful to the marine environment. These products come off our hair and skin as we swim and the chemicals are released into the water. It’s a good thing to become informed and use eco-friendly grooming products.
Clean it up
While sailing, if you spot garbage in the sea or on land, then organize a cleanup! Get the whole crew involved, kids too, and make it fun. Strive to leave the place cleaner than when you arrived. The most pristine places are often rubbish traps, but every effort no matter how small makes a difference.
Make sure the charter you book uses as much energy as possible from renewable sources. Many Boats for charter these days are outfitted with wind and solar power that keeps you greener. Make sure to stipulate this preference when you book your charter boat.
Respecting Habitats and Wildlife
Take care to navigate around wildlife on and in the water - keep your distance!
Launch and recover craft from appropriate sites to avoid damaging sensitive habitats and take care when anchoring to avoid damaging the reef or seabed. Limit shell collecting and never take something that is alive out of the sea, as this also affects the sensitive eco-system of our seas. Reduce your speed if you are causing an excessive wake as it will disturb birds’ nests, erode the shoreline and kill vegetation.
Find out if the areas you sail in are protected, and why. Be sure to check any local codes of conduct that may be in place.
Manage sewage wastes properly. Raw sewage is hazardous both for the environment and for people in the water. Use toilets on shore whenever possible. Never discharge sewage within 3 miles of the shore or in sensitive habitats and use harbour pump-out stations and marina facilities if available.
By following these few simple rules of conduct when chartering a boat, we can ensure our sailing holiday has no negative impact on the environment. So gear up and go green this summer sailing season!
By Merryn Wainwright