Sailing respecting the nature

Do any of you want to sail through a dirty and polluted sea?

One of the beauties of heading out to sea is immersing yourself in nature and separating yourself from the daily grind. However, daily marine traffic is growing and the sea, unfortunately, is the final destination for a lot of industrial discharge from rural areas and cities. The environmental impact caused by boating is often underestimated, but boats are responsible for marine pollution in at each point in their lifecycle: from production, to their use, even at demolition. Therefore we should all try our hardest during our trips to limit our environmental impact. Because sailing while respecting nature is possible!

Here is some advice to sail in a green way:

1- Choose an eco-friendly boat: Obviously using a sail boat is better than using a motor boat, but there are also some more innovative solutions available that will allow you to reduce your environmental impact. In fact, there are some boats that are able to be powered using 100% renewable energy, like the energy of the sun.  It is also possible to use hybrid boats, that thanks to the wind and photovoltaic panels can collect energy and only use the motor when their is no alternative. If you own a motor boat, make sure to take good care and have a regular maintenance check of the motor to keep it working efficiently and where possible use a low emission and low consumption motor. When considering the environmental impact of the boat it is also important to take into consideration the choice of the materials, paying attention to the whole life cycle of the product, from the production phase until the demolition phase. It’s important, to choose ecological materials that are easily biodegradable or reusable, rather than highly polluting materials like fiberglass.

MS Turanor PlanetSolar

MS Turanor PlanetSolar: the solar energy catamaran that completed its round the world journey in 584 days in 2012

2- Cleaning while respecting nature: When you clean your boat you should try to avoid using soap and detergent that use aggressive chemical products, that can damage the marine environment, instead use ecological, neutral and delicate soaps that don’t pollute the environment and will leave the beauty of the coast and the marine flora and fauna in tact. This includes personal hygiene which should also respect nature with the use of biological soap and minimising the use of freshwater, for example by reusing and purifying grey water. It is also recommended to do as much cleaning as possible on dry land, including using the toilet, the shower and cleaning  dishes.

cleaning boat

3- Protection of the sea bed: when you cast anchor, be careful not to damage the sea bed. A good example of this is the protected marine area of Tavolara (Sardinia), where in collaboration with Confindustria they have launched an app that allows you to see on your smartphone the digital underwater cartography, to help the boat owner during the anchoring procedure. The Donia App is a good example of a way to protect the sea bed and safeguarding the Posidonia. Damaging this has knock on effects for the rest of the marine ecosystem, because the Posidonia stops the beaches from erosion, produces oxygen, controls the temperature and is home to many animals. The app is available both for Android and iOS.

sea bottom

4- Be careful when refuelling: During refuelling it is important to make sure that fuel doesn’t end up in the sea. To avoid spilling fuel make sure that your boat is as close to the pump as possible with the tank on the right side and choose a petrol pump with an automatic stop when the tank is full. If there is a small leak act quickly and use absorbent materials to soak up the fuel. If there is a bigger leak you should immediately let the operators of the pump know and failing that the port authority or the other security forces of the sea (by channel 16 VHF or free call the number 1530 in Italy).


5- Correct management of the rubbish: Try to reduce the amount or waste you produce as much as possible and to sort out recycling on board. It’s important to not throw non-biodegradable rubbish in the sea, but instead to dispose of it in specific port collection points. It is strictly forbidden to throw any kind of waste (biodegradable or not, solid or liquid) on beaches, marinas or ports. For the removal of harmful waste (used oil, batteries and filters) you’ll need to find specific ports ecological disposal points. Draining liquid waste can be done in specific tanks for black water or in the open sea if you are more than three miles from the coast. It’s recommended to use the minimum amount possible of ecological loo paper, both to avoid pollution and also so as not to damage the maceration device of the toilets.


barca bottiglie plastica

The hull of the boat designed by David de Rothschild with plastic bottles tied together

6- Occasional efficiency check of the motor: You should pay particular attention to the maintenance and care of your boat, because a careful and accurate maintenance will make a boat safe both for the crew and for the environment. An occasional check of the motor lets you avoid leaks and excessive consumption of fuel and oil.  We recommend the use of ecological varnish for the anti-vegetation treatment of the hull.


7- Reduction of consumption: It’s a good rule to reduce the consumption of freshwater and electrical energy and this can be done using simple a few devices. You can use a consumption control system like a regulator on your taps or low energy lighting devices and appliances.  We recommend installing a drinkable water tank which will reduce the use of plastic bottles on board, the installation of a desalinisation device for the sea water or of a purification system to recycle grey water and wherever possible change your halogen lights with the low energy led lighting.

boat light

8- Respect the rules: There are some simple rules to protect the marine environment and to preserve its beauty so that sailing is a joy for everyone. It’s important for example to use a nautical map during your trip so you can see where protected marine areas are and you can respect the rules and limits of these areas. When you are travelling close to the coast it is good form to not go too quickly, so you keep the noise and waves production to a reasonable level.  You should reduce your speed when you catch sight of cetacean (large marine mammals like whales and dolphins), keeping at least 50 metres away from them and avoiding abrupt changes in direction. The rules for respecting nature are the same for recreational and sport activity, like underwater diving, the use of water-motors or fishing.