Windseeker, 30 August 2018
Sailing is inherently a “green” activity. Although, like most of the other things we do on this planet, sailing does contribute to the environmental pollution, we do a lot on board to stop it. And hopefully good habits learned on board transfer to everybody’s lives on land as well.
First, and quite obviously, we use the power of wind in order to move from one place to another. Motoring is often necessary, but our main source of power are sails. Everyone remembers that time they’ve heard the motor stop and started truly sailing for the first time! The calm, the peacefulness. The sounds of rigging working in the wind. Understanding the power of the elements, and feeling one with nature. Pods of dolphins coming up to play around the vessel. Visiting pristine beaches, where no cruise ship would ever fit. What’s not to love?!
There are some less obvious environmental advantages to sailing as well. If you’ve ever been on a Tall Ship, chances are you’ve followed the 1-minute-shower rule, in order to conserve the limited amount of water on board. When you first heard the rule, you were incredulous. One minute?! And not even everyday?! Then you’ve learned that it’s really not that difficult. The sense of accomplishment after learning to shower in under one minute cannot possibly be explained to your landlubber friends!
So what happens if people don’t follow this rule? A lot of Tall Ships have desalination pumps, but these don’t work as fast as you would have wanted. If there is not enough fresh water on board, you will not be allowed to shower at all, sometimes for several days. Conserving water on a sailing vessel isn’t just a noble concept, it’s simply a necessity!
What about trash? Sailing across the Atlantic over 3 weeks with 70 people on board will produce tremendous amounts of it! Separating the trash is a must, both for storage and hygiene. If you fold your clean cardboard together nicely, you can put a lot of it below deck. Same with washed plastic. Only the truly dirty trash goes to the bins, reducing the need for trash storage places and the risk of unwanted creatures settling in.
Downsizing is yet another necessity on a sailing vessel. There simply isn’t enough space for redundant objects. You learn to limit your belongings to a minimum and you quickly find out that you really don’t need all that much stuff in your life.
While sailing you have very direct contact with your surroundings. You can see (and sometimes touch) the ocean, you can smell the breeze, observe the wildlife. This certainly puts things into perspective. Getting in touch with the nature makes you feel protective of it. This feeling doesn’t go away when you step off board. Most sailors will bring their new eco-friendly habits home with them, and think twice before creating more pollution than is strictly necessary.