Jun 15, 2021

Over the past few weeks on our social media we have been posting some helpful tips and ideas for you to put into practice whilst sailing, which are intended to help the environment and our impact on it whilst sailing. We thought we’d share them here for you as well! 

Now we all know that it is a privilege to be able to take a leisurely sail and enjoy the beautiful environment, landscape and wildlife – particularly now after the past year we have had! However, it does come at a price. It is also our responsibility to care for the sea, and to ensure that future generations can also enjoy it in the same way.

Firstly, you can make some quick and easy changes around the food you eat and how you dispose of waste whilst on a long-term sail. One of the easiest things you can do is to make an effort to eat fresh, local food whilst travelling, and also remember to provision regularly. This cuts down on emissions, as the food is not transported long distances to a supermarket, helps to support the people in the countries you choose to visit, and is the most fresh and tasty option – a win-win!

In addition, choose areas on board the boat where you will store rubbish and recycling – make a conscious habit of sorting and disposing waste correctly, both when under sail and at your destination. Plastic never disappears and never biodegrades, it simply divides into smaller and smaller parts, eventually becoming so small they cannot be seen or removed – this causes animals to ingest them and become unwell so it is so important to store all your rubbish whilst at sea.

Next up, antifouling – there are many benefits of this, and many feel the benefits do outweigh the negative effects. However, there are some steps you can take to minimise the environmental damage that is caused.

To protect the hull of the boat, antifouling paint is often toxic – this is because organisms that attach to the boat mustn’t be transported to other areas around the world, as they may have a negative invasive impact on the environment. Additionally, copper included in the paint is toxic to wildlife and will slowly peel off whilst the vessel is in the water as well. There are now some paints available in the market which do not include copper, but there are also a few tips below that you can follow, to minimise the damage caused when antifouling.

  • Speak to your boatyard and enquire about a washdown facility, to collect any residues.
  • Get some advice on the right type of antifouling to do, depending on your location and the usage of the vessel.
  • Collect any scrapings and paint particles immediately, and ensure they are disposed of responsibly.

Aside from antifouling paint, lots of different things can pollute the water around you and negatively impact the environment, including fuel, untreated water, cleaning solutions, and even sunscreen.

We all are aware of the impact Global Warming has had one the world and the sailing community, and this is only going to become more apparent over the coming years. As sea levels rise and the weather becomes more unpredictable, think about how to help help.

  • Whether you are looking to buy a new vessel altogether, or just replacing some boat kit, always think about the emissions and carbon impact early on. Ask the manufacturer for their advice and thoughts on this.
  • Investigate whether you can make the change to using solar or wind-based energy.
  • Consider whether you could, in the future, start using an electric or biodiesel engine – if you haven’t already!

In addition to the environmental effects of global warming, there are other issues too that people are less aware of. For example, the insurance market in the past has seen a huge number of losses from extreme weather incidents. This in turn caused insurers to limit their exposure and raise their premiums, to account for the unexpected influx of claims, which can be frustrating for boat owners. These storms can also have absolutely devastating impact on the local marinas and communities nearby.

Finally, our last point is about the wildlife you might encounter at sea. It is always incredible to see animals in their natural habitat – for example, you might see dolphins, whales or a huge variety of different birds around the UK. However, the actions of humans and the resulting effects on animals and marine life is having a big impact on the future of these animals. In order to help our marine wildlife thrive, try to research where you are going thoroughly! This is by far the most important suggestion. The more you know about the area you are travelling to and the potential wildlife you will see, the better prepared you can be on how to minimise any disturbance you are causing to the local fauna.

It is also important to ensure you are calm, quiet and don’t make any unpredictable, sudden movements or noises. Animals will always feel calmer if you do not make any quick actions, and you should always let the animal go at its own pace. It is also a good idea to keep a slow consistent course with your vessel, in order to avoid collisions. In addition, sensible use of the boat, good boat handling and regular maintenance can all have an impact too, helping to reduce your wash, be more fuel efficient and reduce impact on the environment.