The reduced use of plastic water bottles on charter yachts is the sole focus of this year’s Caribbean Yacht Brokers Association’s (CYBA) four-year-old environmentally friendly Going Green to Save the Blue campaign.
“Plastic water bottles have all but disappeared aboard yachts in the BVI, but there is not as much awareness in other areas and especially on larger yachts and motor yachts,” said Trish Cronan, president of Ocean Getaways Yacht Charters in Ft. Denaud, Fla., who is co-chairwoman of CYBA’s Going Green to Save the Blue Committee with Sherry Yates of Yates Yachts in Steamboat Springs, Colo. “Cutting down or cutting out use of plastic water bottles in favor of the yacht’s own water can be easier to do than other eco-friendly practices, and it’s a single, simple message.”
Data obtained from surveys shows that, depending on size, crewed yachts use 400-700 water bottles weekly. Multiply this by an average 20 weeks of charter, and it adds up to 8,000-14,000 plastic water bottles generated by each yacht annually.
Multiply this by the more than 450 crewed yachts in the Caribbean, and the result is a mountain of plastic. Cronan has made this point in talks with yachts and brokers by standing in front of a mound of bottles representing just one week’s plastic. A crucial point is that most Caribbean islands have limited landfill space and limited or nonexistent recycling programs.
Consequently, much of this plastic winds up in the ocean.
To underscore this message, the 2015 CYBA Save the Blue Award was based solely on brokers and charter yachts signing an online Environmental Pledge. The pledge calls for a promise to educate brokers and guests about the quality of onboard drinking water, request crew drink yacht-made water, provide guests with reusable or recyclable water bottles, purchase large containers of water versus individual bottles (if a yacht can’t produce quality water onboard) and to, whenever possible, purchase products in packaging other than single use plastic.
As of Nov. 8, 101 charter yachts and 55 CYBA brokers had signed the pledge and qualified for the Save the Blue Award.
“I’ve signed the pledge because I think it’s important to keep plastics out of the ocean,” said June Montagne, broker for YachtZoo in Ft. Lauderdale and a member of CYBA as well as similar associations in Florida, the United States and the Mediterranean.
“All of us in this business have a passion for the ocean and want to protect it,” she said. “One of the things I do is advise my clients on the preference sheets that there is an option of yacht-made water as well as bottled water.”
In place of CYBA’s Most Eco-Friendly Yacht Award, the organization is sponsoring a Designer Water Contest at the USVI, BVI and Antigua charter yacht shows. The idea is to highlight the great taste of yacht-produced water, show the creativity of yacht chefs, and demonstrate easy ways to eliminate plastic.
Half of the 50 yachts entered in the Virgin Islands show signed the pledge, and 10 entered the contest. The crew aboard the 50-foot Beneteau S/Y Antillean won the prize on taste, presentation and creativity by adding sliced fresh ginger, cucumbers and lemongrass to its water, along with several carved fruits.
“Some of our clients say they can’t do without bottled water, and we have it onboard for them, but once we are under way and they sample the flavored waters we offer, they start drinking these instead,” said Antillean Chef Amber Duncan, who is owner-operator with Capt. Matthias Bitterwolf. “So far, we’ve only gone through one case of water in three weeks of charter.”
The 193-foot expedition vessel M/Y Seawolf serves filtered yacht-made water with flavorings such as fresh lemon and cucumber to its guests, Montagne said.
It’s not just charter clients who can make a dent in plastic water bottle use. Cronan said the captain of a 10-crew Perini Navi noted that the owner saved $9,000 a year in bottled water purchases because the crew drank yacht-made water.
“Each year, we think about taking the Going Green campaign over to the Med, but we just haven’t had the time yet,” Cronan said. “MYBA supports us by helping to get the word out on social media. Recycling efforts in Europe might not make this program as critical, but I think it would make great sense in other locations similar to the Caribbean, such as the Maldives and Seychelles.”
Carol Bareuther is a freelance writer in St. Thomas. Comments on this story are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.