The health of our oceans is very much in the news these days. Sailors, as frequent return visitors to favourite locations, are often the first to notice changes in ecosystems because they spend so much time observing them. Crewed and bareboat charter sailing make for an eco-friendly holiday, and there are ways that those who love spending time on the ocean can do even more to help save it.

    • Observe the basics. Whether you’re a novice or experienced sailor, learn about the current conditions of the area you’ll be in, including the health of reefs or other ecosystems, fishing restrictions, and garbage and recycling accommodations at harbours. Many harbours in the Caribbean are employing resource-wise cleaning and waste systems to ensure the long-term health of their paradise. On a bareboat charter, you won’t have to deal with a lot of cleaning or maintenance yourself, but it can’t hurt to know the local conditions and what’s being done to maintain or improve them.
    • Provision well, dispose smartly. You have many alternatives for environmentally responsible products, and their importance is magnified when you are living on the ocean even for a short amount of time. For instance, vinegar and baking soda are just as effective as commercial cleaning products. Before you leave, pack your own lightweight reusable bags, and – above all – minimise the plastic you bring on board. Try the “principle of halves” in items like shampoo and dish soap: buy half of what you think you need and when it’s half empty, fill it with water.
    • Minimise generator use. One of the joys of a sailing holiday is the very fact of being on your own schedule, on the water in a beautiful environment. In other words, you don’t have to go anywhere. So on a calm day, resist the urge to motor just to get somewhere. Also, if your boat has air-con, be judicious in your use of it.
    • Go onshore for toilet use and bilge disposal. On a bareboat charter, you have the advantage of being able to get to marinas pretty easily. Take advantage of that proximity to facilities and don’t dump in the ocean. As the water in many harbours can attest, seemingly small amounts of contaminants like drops of oil and fuel can build up over time, so if you fuel up, don’t fill the tank to the brim and use an absorbent pad to catch all stray drips.