What is clean sailing and why is it important?

All in all, sailing is sustainable by default, in many ways. As sailors, our main “fuel” is indeed the wind, which is an entirely renewable energy source. This makes it the perfect way to travel and see the world if you’re rightfully concerned about clean sailing. Although, it’s clear that we still have ample opportunity to clean up our sailing act in more ways.

The Importance of Clean Sailing

There is a need for us to recognise the great responsibility we have in preserving all the ecosystems and maritime living creatures. No matter where it is that we live, the oceans will always have an influence on all of us in some way or another. We are dependent on the oceans as they provide us with the different resources we need to survive, literally; air, food, temperature regulation, water, etc.

Oceans are what make life on earth possible and that’s why we need to protect them.

We are required to take the responsibility to safeguard the environment and make changes to our behaviour for the better. Since sailors love and make use of the seas, we should step out there and preserve what is indeed our second home.

What it means to be a Clean Sailor

Let us all be Clean Sailors!

There are several ways in which our sailing impacts the seas we sail. Just consider the soap and cleaning products typically used on-board, along with the antifouling on the boats’ bottoms, as well as the manner in which we use the engine…

Whatever it is that we use on our boats inevitably ends up in our waters, with cognisance of our impact especially important during events such as the Oyster World Rally. That’s when we can make the most difference…

Take into account, for example, the cleaning products deployed on-board. These often contain chemicals and a selection of other unnatural ingredients. Should these products not be biodegradable or eco-friendly, the chemicals they contain usually end up in the sea, washed off the decks, or drained-out as part of bilge water — if it’s not kept in a holding tank to be pumped out in a marina.

The accumulation of such chemicals, particularly in marinas and anchorages where the waters are more sheltered, along with less tides and currents having an impact in diluting them, inevitably lead to acidification and toxification, along with a decrease in the amount of natural nutrition available to life below the water’s surface. This then has a direct effect on the surroundings, from the natural food chain all the way to how healthy our seagrasses and even our coral can grow.

Making the switch from traditional cleaning products to using eco-friendly, sea-friendly products, can result in a big difference. These biodegradable products, made from more natural ingredients, are safer for the oceans, waters and for life within them.

So, the next time you make a purchase of dish soap, boat cleaner or any other cleaning agent, take a moment to think twice about which of these are fully biodegradable and environmentally safe!

Another important aspect of sailing that isn’t quite so eco-friendly, is the combination of paint and antifouling used on boats. Traditionally, these will contain very heavy chemicals; zinc and copper, present to ensure the hull of the boat doesn’t get damaged by algae or other biological organisms.

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