For the longest time, the crew on private and charter yachts have been trying to implement ways to become more environmentally friendly. Obviously there are many things to consider from garbage disposal, used oil and holding tanks, to fuel consumption. But how exactly does one deal with these issues when cruising in faraway places, for instance Grenadines, where locals may not have the facilities to handle your recycled waste.
Separating plastics from biodegradable is great as long as where you take them is doing the same thing. The problem is, local governments in many of the islands where yacht crews travel don’t have the funds to build waste treatment facilities and recycling centers. Preparing your boat so that you don’t have to produce waste in the first place, is the best way to keep matters in your own hands.
I recently learned of a charter catamaran operating in the British Virgin Islands that has won a prestigious award for their efforts to “save the blue.” The yacht Nemo which is in Select Yacht’s charter fleet has been built to operate with the least possible effect on the environment. The yacht has Photovoltaic solar panels, a wind generator, and a 7-stage filter drinking water system with mineral infusion so there is NO NEED to buy plastic bottles any more. Nemo crew carbonates that water for guests who want it sparkling. As many of you may know, the amount of water bottles used by eight people during a one week trip in the Caribbean is staggering and amounts to a huge percentage of the waste produced. The owners of Nemo offer personalized aluminum containers to their guests so they can either use the water produced by the boat’s watermaker or top up from large re-usable water bottle containers. This is how it is done in Turkey where 20 gallons of water costs a staggering $3, and that’s delivered!
Other “save the blue” initiatives Nemo established:
• Installed an eco-dishwasher on board that only uses 3 gallons of water each cleaning cycle
• Clients are encouraged to open their hatches at night to avoid using A/C
• Uses biodegradable cleaning products and cleaning cloths for cleaning boat interior
• Natural biodegradable cosmetic products on board
• Cockpit cushions made from nontoxic materials and dyes
This all highlights their focus on Charter Yacht Broker Association’s “Go Green to Save the Blue” campaign. CYBA has been encouraging yachts to consider these changes for some time now and slowly but surely, more and more yacht owners and crews are coming around to the idea. One thing is for sure. If you are thinking about buying a boat and want to be as considerate as you can towards Mother Earth, it would be advisable to search out yachts that are already committed to it and take a vacation on one.
There are other issues that are far more detrimental to the sea than garbage and plastic: disposal of black and grey water. Where I operate my own boat in Turkey, initiatives to stop yachts and ships from discharging into the sea have now become law, and huge fines are levied on anyone not in compliance. Turkey has introduced a system in which a credit-style card is swiped each and every time a yacht’s holding tanks is emptied. If you have not used the system as frequently as the number of transit logs (like a cruising permit) you have purchased by the end of the season, you are fined. This is a very important step in improving the local waters and contributing to the overall health of the waters on our beautiful planet, and one which I hope becomes more recognized worldwide.
Another very important new rule in Turkey is the requirement to have a 400 liter bilge tank in the event oils, fuel or chemicals are spilled in the bilges. Yachts can no longer operate commercially without this facility.
Please remember to be responsible towards the environment when buying, renting or using a boat. Try to consider the amount of plastic you can do without, and dispose of trash in a place where you know it will be processed correctly. Support CYBA’s “GOING GREEN TO SAVE THE BLUE” campaign and learn about other ways and things you can do to help.
FIVE EASY STEPS TO GOING GREEN AS A CHARTER YACHT BROKER
1. Revise Preference Sheets to offer charter guests the choice of drinking the yacht’s water rather than bottled water (if the yacht provides it).
2. Educate your charter guests about the importance of reducing plastic water bottle waste before they get to the provisioning list stage. You can do this through a “going green” section of your website, blog and social media, a handout that you e-mail them, a tagline in your emails, etc. (We will be providing you with some written material to help get you started).
3. Go paperless when possible including using e-brochures instead of hard copies; transmitting contracts and forms by e-mail; when you print use recycled paper and print on both sides.
4. Adopt a recycling policy for your office to recycle all paper brochures, bottles, cans, etc. as well as batteries, print cartridges, cell phones, etc.
5. Support yachts which take green seriously
Capt. Warren East