Protecting the oceans - Playing our part with Sailors for the Sea

Tuesday, 8th June 2021

Discover Oyster

With concern for the environment growing every day, it is clear that our oceans are in danger. As sailors, we have all seen for ourselves the threats posed by plastic, pollution, oil spills, the depletion of marine life and marine habitat destruction. It is such a huge problem it can be hard to know where to start trying to make a difference as individuals. That’s where Sailors for the Sea come in.

Oceans Day Protecting the oceans Oyster Yachts x Sailors for the Sea

Over the last three years, Oyster has worked with the organisation to make our events more ocean-friendly. As the world’s leading ocean conservation organisation, Sailors for the Sea engages, educates, and activates the sailing and boating community toward restoring ocean health. Their solution-led programmes unite a core constituency of nearly 12 million sailors and boaters, whose support is helping to save the world’s oceans. If you are looking for a way to make a difference, start here.

Co-founded in 2004 by David Rockefeller Jr. and Dr. David Treadway, two avid sailors who recognised the importance of educating and activating this constituency of ocean enthusiasts. In 2018, the organisation joined forces with Oceana, the largest international advocacy organisation dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Together, they are creating a global network of active, engaged ocean champions within the sailing and boating community who are taking action to save our oceans.

Since 2018, we have worked with Sailors for the Sea to run cleaner regattas. Following Gold certification of our 2019 Palma Regatta, we are applying the principles to the Oyster World Rally 2022-23 to make sure it has the minimal impact on the places we visit en route. “Over the last several years, Oyster Yachts has put sustainability at the forefront of their regattas and world rally. We have enjoyed working with the Oyster team to find ways they can make a positive impact for our oceans and instil a lasting sense of stewardship with the sailors and the communities they will be visiting,” said Shelley Brown, Sailors for the Sea Director. 

Three key programmes for change

Sailors for the Sea’s activities are designed to engage three key audiences – individual sailors, regatta organisers and the next generation. 

Green Boating

Green Boaters take action to address pressing ocean health issues. Sign up and Sailors for the Sea will keep you up to date with the latest information and resources on sustainable boating practices. They also highlight opportunities to act on critical issues to combat plastic pollution, prevent habitat destruction, source responsible seafood and limit overfishing.

Clean Regattas

This is the world’s leading sustainability certification for water-based events. Clean Regattas offers sailors, race organisers and marina managers the resources and framework to improve their environmental footprint. It is making a significant impact on protecting and restoring ocean health in local communities – since 2006, over 2,600 events have hosted Clean Regattas, reaching over 715,000 sailors and attendees in over 40 countries. The Clean Regattas Toolkit is a free, self-assessment tool that outlines 20 Best Practices that to help make meaningful changes at these events.

KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans)

KELPs are free downloadable activities that educate young sailors and school children about marine science. These hands-on lesson plans address important ocean issues including overfishing, plastic pollution, and climate change. Mia and Leila Eccles (aged 11 and 9) are setting off on the Oyster World Rally in 2022-23 and have already completed the lesson plan ‘The Deadliest Catch’. “The seas are very important to our everyday life,” they told us. “And if we don’t look after them the world will not be the same as we know it today.”

Oyster x Sailors for the Sea

Recently, we have been working together to make the next Oyster World Rally 2022-23 as low impact on the environment as possible. We’ve invited all the yachts taking part to join the Green Boating community and the event will be certified as a Clean Regatta, coordinated at each stopover by the Oyster team. Before this, in 2018, we earned Bronze Clean Regatta certification for our Palma and Antigua Regattas. And in 2019, the Palma Regatta was certified Gold.

Steps to Gold Certification

For the 2019 Palma Regatta, we took the following steps to achieve Gold certification:

- We pre-warned participants to think about plastic-free hydration on the racecourse and to bring reusable bottles and containers.

- Sponsor, Dolphin Sails, provided a giant Cleanwave drinking water fountain on the dock so participants could easily fill their re-useable containers and avoid single-use plastic bottles during the regatta.

- All evening catered events were free of single use plastic thanks to the co-operation of the caterers. Not a plastic fork or straw in sight!

- Recycled and reusable products replaced throwaway plastic packaging. This included re-useable skipper’s wallets, compostable name tags, compostable lunch packaging and re-useable cups for the dock party.

- BMW Proa Premium Palma sponsored electric cars which were available for participants and staff to help reduce fuel consumption ashore.

- Reducing food waste – local Palma charity Yachting Gives Back collected extra breakfasts and lunches every day. They then delivered this fresh food in time for dinner at a local homeless shelter.

- Donations to Save The Med were made via entry forms. Save the Med is a local marine conservation group making positive waves in their efforts to protect our oceans.

- Our regatta hosts, Real Club Nautico de Palma, also helped the regatta achieve Gold Status thanks to its work with organisation Sea Bin who help keep their surrounding water free of oils and plastics. Ongoing, the club runs educational programs alongside their sailing courses that teach children about protecting the future of the sea.

Our sustainable goals

We aim to make all Oyster Regattas even greener over the next few years, as well as following the Green Boating Goals on the Oyster World Rally. For our Regattas in 2021, we will continue to take the same steps as we did in 2019 and look for ways to make the event even greener. We will be working with some new organisations over the coming months – watch this space.

Oyster World Rally 2022-2023

We have identified specific Green Boating Goals and tailored them for the Oyster World Rally. They are designed to make sailing around the world more environmentally friendly and manageable for the crews. Printed copies of these goals will be given to each yacht to display in the galley.

Our Oyster World Rally Green Boating Goals:

 

1. Thoughtfully provision and manage your waste

In remote areas, waste disposal infrastructure can be limited. By provisioning your boat with less throwaway items you can reduce the amount of waste produced.

  • Avoid single-use, throwaway plastic. Use bamboo utensils, silicone storage bags, glass jars, canvas bags and other reusables to replace disposable items.
  • Use a water filtration system onboard with mineral tablets instead of plastic water bottles.
  • Buy products in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging and if possible, remove packaging before bringing the items on board.
  • Think of creative ways to upcycle and reuse throwaway items.

2. Reduce your impact on the environment

Yachting allows us to experience the most beautiful ecosystems and wildlife in the world, from coral reefs and seagrass meadows to seabirds and whales. To avoid causing harm, always be aware of your surroundings.

  • Look out for sensitive habitats when choosing a spot to anchor. Choose places where you can either see the bottom or in deep water to avoid damaging seagrass beds and coral reefs.
  • Do not disturb local wildlife – stay at least 300 feet away. If you encounter a whale while sailing, drop your sails and avoid a head on approach. Document and share the wildlife you see on your journey.
  • Minimize your carbon footprint by limiting generator use, keep the shades closed mid-day to keep the cabin cool, and use renewable energy (solar panels or wind generators).

3. Be careful what you put into the ocean

Pollutants, like soaps, sewage, fuel or sunscreen, can end up in the ocean. However, there are ways to minimise what goes in the water or make sure that it is less likely to harm the environment.

  • Check to see your destination has pump out facilities. If not, use your Y-valve and only pump waste overboard while in deep water, away from beaches and anchorages. Be aware of local discharging regulations.
  • Purchase eco-friendly cleaners or consider making your own from simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.
  • Protect your skin with reef-friendly sunscreen by avoiding products with oxybenzone or octinoxate, which can cause coral bleaching.

Sail green every day

Of course, you do not need to be setting off to circumnavigate the world to take care of the ocean. All the hints, tips and goals in this article can be used to make your weekend or holiday cruising greener and less likely to damage the environment. You can find more details about Sailors for the Sea here.

Find out more about our Palma Regatta 2021 >