Sustainable Practices for the Smaller Motor and Sailing Yacht Owner

Today's yachts are being built with sustainability in mind with more efficient engines, lighter hulls that are made with more easily recyclable materials, coated with less toxic paints and interiors made with recycled or sustainably sourced fabrics and woods.  

However you don’t need to buy a whole new boat to take  steps in the right direction.. Whether you're the captain of your own 30ft sailing yacht or a 70 metre superyacht, being more considerate to the environment  can sometimes seem a bit daunting but there are a number of simple changes you can make on board.

1. Recycle 
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s a term that’s been around for decades and it sounds and is relatively simple. Simply start by considering how you can reduce your consumption on board. If possible fit a water filtration system, not only useful for longer voyages but it will also save on plastic bottles and the waste that comes with it. A funky refillable bottle is way more luxurious than a plastic one any way.

Also ensure you are separating your rubbish to make it easier to recycle when you come into the marina. An old complaint was that marinas often didn’t have recycling facilities but this is fast changing. Marinas are increasingly providing recycling facilities and are becoming more aware of their own impact. Signing up to programmes such as Cleaner Marina, The Clean Marina Programme and Blue Flag. You can see a list of marinas that have signed up to Blue Flag here

2. Move away from polluting antifoul paints 
Conflictingly, a clean hull is one way of being more sustainable. It’s well known that a clean hull reduces drag and thus improves efficiency and saves fuel. However many of the antifoul coatings out there contain microplastics, copper or silicone which can leach into the water over time or when being removed before reapplication and have been shown to cause ill effects to sea life. 

Try alternatives such as wrapping which won’t leach and can be recycled at the end of it’s life or ultrasonic anti-fouling systems. These systems use ultrasound to keep fouling off your boat inside and out and claim not to interfere with mammals in the ocean that rely on sonar. With less time needed for reapplying coatings, ultrasonic anti fouling systems could even save you money too. 

3. Reduce your energy consumption on board

Just as in point one, consider ways you can reduce your energy consumption on board. Replace lights for energy saving LED lights and consider what appliances can be replaced as they near their shelf life for more energy efficient versions such as laptops, freezers, fans etc. .

Also consider which systems can be switched off altogether when alongside. Consider your cruising speed, 40 knots is always fun but do you need to be doing it on every occasion.

To help with reducing your reliance on fossil fuels and shore power for your energy, consider fitting solar panels to your boat where you can to provide your power, there are many affordable solar solutions these days. If it even just allows you to power your laptop and lights overnight, it will reduce your energy consumption and save you money.

4. In fact, many sustainable practices can save you money. Boat maintenance 

 Improved boat maintenance in several areas will have a significant impact on efficiency. Ensure you inspect the bilge regularly to reduce the risk of oil and other toxins draining into the ocean. 

When cleaning the boat, consider what you’re using, whatever it is will inevitably run off into the ocean, impacting aquatic life. It’s also worth noting here that a lot of the chemicals that negatively impact aquatic life are also not great for humans too.   

5. Marinas

Keep your boat and visit Marinas that are doing their bit, have appropriate facilities such  as pump out stations, waste and recycling stations, safe refueling facilities. Is your Marina using renewable energy as a source of power and are there advanced mooring systems in place to protect marine life and seagrasses. These are all things to consider when choosing a marina. More information on what to look out for can be found on