At sea, as in all areas of life, green isn’t simply a color, it’s a way of life. The pressure is on to reduce our carbon footprint and strive for eco-friendliness at all times and a vacation is no excuse to let it slip.
The great news is that opting for a bareboat charter is possibly one of the most eco-friendly options for a vacation. Add to that the freedom and exhilaration of two weeks or more cruising around the waters of your choice and at your own leisurely pace and what more can you ask for from your vacation?
Sailing may be the ultimate green vacation but there are still measures you can take to minimize your impact on the environment.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Consider a yacht with natural ventilation rather than an air conditioned option. Avoid running the generators through the night, it will only create high amounts of pollution. Opening up side hatches helps to allow fresh air to flow through and after all, that’s the whole point of sailing isn’t it – the invigorating sea air?
Wherever possible avoid disposing of your garbage on islands; a dearth of recycling facilities means that garbage will normally end up in landfill and exacerbate the problem. Think before you set off. Don’t buy bulk bottles of water, go for the bigger gallon jugs and wherever possible use a water filter to eliminate the use of plastic water bottles altogether. Take your own reusable shopping bags and avoid plastic plates and cups, they may make life easier but they are detrimental to the environment you’re trying to protect.
Never ever, in any circumstances dispose of your garbage overboard. Aside from being illegal it is life threatening to the fish and other marine life. This applies to your cigarette butts too. Do NOT throw them overboard (or bury them on beaches for that matter), it does matter.
Likewise with your garbage bags, dispose of them appropriately and legally. OK, some islands will charge a fee for garbage disposal but before you baulk at paying it, think of the environment. It’s really not all about you.
You may be a bit of an adrenalin junkie when it comes to wakeboarding and water skiing but think before you load up your skis. Activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, diving and windsurfing are all great fun and much more environmentally friendly – and they avoid noise pollution too.
Respect Your Surroundings
The breathtaking natural beauty of your surroundings is often delicate and fragile and pollution can affect the natural balance for years to come. Do your utmost to leave it as you found it which means not forgetting to take you trash with you and taking care while snorkeling around the coral reefs. Remember not to handle or feed marine creatures while you dive or disturb the reef life. Keep your flippers away from the reef and use waterproof sun block. And it might sound obvious but don’t stand on the corals.
Use salt water to clean dishes and to cook with. If you’re considering a yacht rental you’ll find that most have only a limited supply of fresh water on board so while it may sound dubious it is actually quite safe – and environmentally friendly. Taking quick showers is also another way of conserving water. Remember to turn the water supply off while you’re not using it, even while you brush your teeth. It all adds up to a greener environment.
Opt for an Eco-Tour
Eco-tours offer that extra element to your vacation. Whether it’s snorkeling in the Bahamas, whale watching in Mexico or bird watching in the Seychelles the choice is yours. Revel in new and educational experiences safe in the knowledge that you’re doing your bit for the environment at the same time.
Going green on your sailing vacation is relatively painless with a few simple changes to your habits and respecting your surroundings. The natural charm of the ocean with its teeming marine life and colorful corals has beguiled sailors for many years. If we all play our part it will be there for generations to enjoy.
Author Kate Smedley seeks out easy ways for you to make your bareboat charter eco-friendly.