To some, the concept of an eco-friendly super yacht sounds like an oxymoron. To those skeptics, we say, “Just google green and super yacht, and sift through the 3 million results. You’ll be impressed.”
As technological innovations abound in the super yacht industry, for every new build, there’s probably 100 older, and by older we mean 5 years or more, charter yachts that are challenged to go green with the hulls that they have. For them, the changes are incremental – treating their fuel, using paints that reduce AC consumption, and tweaking systems so that they burn less energy. Nothing radical, just a few simple steps at a time.”
Our President, Trish Cronan has written articles on the issue and spearheads the Going Green to Save the Blue initiative of the Charter Yacht Brokers Association International (CYBA). Kim Kavin of Yachting Magazine recently referred to the CYBA team as the Green Keepers. This is CYBA’s 6th year of fostering the greening of the charter yacht industry worldwide by honoring yachts that adopt onboard green practices.
Trish comments, “The cynics say that we should just have our clients charter sailing yachts. No nasty emissions in their wake. Hmmm, somewhat accurate but carbon emissions are only part of the pollution problem equation. And, true confession – our livelihoods are dependent upon booking those go-fast, diesel guzzling super yachts. I am not about to ditch this lucrative and satisfying career that I have enjoyed for nearly 30 years. I am sure my colleagues would agree. We’ve had to look for a way to marry our commitment to the health and beauty of our oceans with our livelihood. Many captains and crews share the same dilemma or cognitive dissonance”.
So is it all about us and our ocean hugging ways? Are charter clients asking for eco-friendly charter yachts? Do they care? The groundswell is just beginning as the eco-tourism industry blossoms. The seasoned charter guest is more savvy about the environmental impact than the first timers. Once aboard, some clients start to think out loud about the lack of recycling, the volume of trash, the plastic on some of the windward beaches, and the absence of fresh, sustainable seafood in many of the waters. They are stunned that there are no pump out facilities in some of the most pristine waters of the world. A small, yet growing number, of charter clients are examining their own travel footprint.
At Ocean Getaways, we specialize in booking corporate incentive programs on yachts and work with numerous Fortune 500 corporations. Five years ago when Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became a buzzword, one of our best automotive clients sent an e-mail that announced new criteria for selecting travel suppliers. They attached a 7-page questionnaire to determine our degree of green-ness. We were daunted by the criteria. Buying locally, for example. Easy if you’re in the south coast of France and can stroll to the boulangerie. But in St. Thomas where the vegetables departed their soil 1500 miles away, local was not an option. In 2008, we were daunted and did a creative jitterbug to keep their business. Today we’re down to a foxtrot. We are hopeful. Times are changing.
In 2012, Freedom, a 120’ Broward, won the CYBA Most Eco-friendly Motor Yacht award at the BVI Charter Show. They purchase the majority of their produce from their home island of St. Croix which has the first and only USDA organic farm in the Virgin Islands. On nearby Tortola, well-known BVI artist, Aragorn Dick-Read, planted and sowed the Good Moon Farm and supplies a bounty of fresh greens, vegetables, herbs, and fruits which are picked on the day of delivery. He’s formed a Local Producers Network to access other local products – meats, seafood, flowers, baked goods, and liquors. Straight from the farm to the transom.
Let’s get back to that pesky fuel issue. Rina is one of the oldest marine classification societies in the world, and their “Green Plus” award for new builds is one of the most rigorous in the industry. They grant this notation to yachts that have cruised far beyond the parameters required by international environmental regulations including marked reductions in fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Exuma, the 164’ Perrini Navi earned the certificate in 2010 and is a shining example of thinking outside the box with hull design and onboard systems resulting in fuel consumption that is substantially less than comparably sized yachts. In 2016, the quest for building super yachts with zero emissions is on… just go back to that Google search.
Captain Clive Willenbrock of the 54 meter Amels, Spirit, stated, “Regular cleaning of the underwater hull reduces fuel consumption radically. The boat is set up to use 2 smaller generators that turn on the second only when required via an intelligent management system. We are not burning fuel to produce unused electricity.” Spirit won CYBA’s Most Eco-friendly Motor Yacht award at the 2012 Antigua Yacht Show for their green practices – reducing plastic waste, using energy efficient lights, using biodegradable cleaning products and sundries, applying eco-friendly bottom paints, buying electric and rechargeable Seabobs, and providing eco-friendly sunscreens.
Although we applaud the breakthroughs in yacht design, our criteria for winning our CYBA Save the Blue award are more about practice than design. We are not scientists, marine architects, or regulators. At best, we can be called thought provokers. Nudging captains and crews to take pause and do a bit of introspection. Do they have an onboard environmental policy? Do they even want one? What is one thing they could implement right now? We want to show them that they do not have to captain an Exuma to make a difference.
One of the questions we asked was “What do you do to contribute to local environmental efforts?” The responses were impressive. Spirit’s crew cleaned three beaches in the San Blas islands. Freedom’s crew dive the local moorings to pick up bottom debris and were instrumental in starting the St. Croix Lion Fish derby. They hunt the invasive lionfish on their days off and bring it to local restaurants. Our CYBA Most Eco-friendly Sailing Yacht in Antigua winner, Flow, is partnering with the Coral Restoration Foundation to plant reef farms in the BVI.
The type of yacht you choose for your luxe yacht charter vacation will define your onboard experience. At Ocean Getaways, we’re seasoned experts in listening to your expectations and guiding you to the type of yacht that’s the perfect fit for you, your family and friends.
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