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An environmentally aware sailing guide - GETTING READY FOR SAILING


All yachtsmen like anchoring in a nice bay with crystal clear water and a beach free of litter and not overcrowded with people.  We are attracted to picturesque islands, and deserted bays and coves. Most of us sail out every year in search of serenity and relaxation in virgin nature.

This environmentally aware sailing guide is a product of our wish to provide guidance to all yachtsmen wishing to actively take part in protecting the Adriatic so we can all continue enjoying its beauty.


Every  seafarer knows the importance of being prepared for sailing. Good preparation is a guarantee for a pleasant stay on board a sailing boat. Your environmentally aware stay in nature should start with your preparation for sailing.

The best practice in environmentally aware sailing is not to bring on board any litter that may end up in the sea.

Use linen bags for luggage and provisions

By packing your clothes and personal items in linen bags you have already made the first step. You have avoided using angular and hard suitcases ill-suited for fitting into boat cabinets and storage spaces. Linen bags are easily stored in car boots or car top luggage carriers because they are much lighter than suitcases.

When you have stored all your luggage (clothes, personal hygiene items, provisions) in boat cabinets, you can use the linen bags for any shopping you do while sailing. This way you will not have to take plastic carrier bags in shops.

Also, it is common knowledge that vegetables and fruit stay fresh longer if packed in linen bags rather than in plastic bags. Linen bags allow for better air flow.


Linen bags of course also last longer than plastic and can easily be washed if they get dirty (using environmentally friendly washing powder if possible).

People take countless plastic bags from shops every day. Some of these bags end up in the sea. You will spot them floating on the water’s surface when you go sailing. Above all, they are dangerous for sea animals.

Tens of thousands of sea animals die every year due to plastic bags in the sea and on the seashore, as animals often mistake them for food, thinking that they are jellyfish, for example.

The dangers are inestimable for humans and animals, especially for future generations. Plastic bags totally dissolve in daylight into smaller, poisonous petro-polymers that slowly settle on the seabed and seashore, and the microscopic poisonous particles enter the food chain. Someone took the trouble to calculate that by using a linen bag for a week one can save 6 plastic bags, which means 24 in a month, 288 in a year and 22,176 in an average human life span.

Buy organic vegetables or vegetables from ''your neighbour’s garden''

It is best to get vegetables without packaging. Vegetable packaging used in shops is either Styrofoam or plastic bags and these are very harmful if they end up in the sea.
Buy vegetables without packaging and put them in linen bags before the journey to make sure they stay fresh longer. For the sake of your own health and for the benefit of the planet that you live on, try using organic vegetables in your diet.

It is better to buy larger quantities of vegetables, as it works out cheaper and they are not packaged. If you cannot get unpackaged vegetables, try to get vegetables packaged in materials that can be recycled or reused. If you have to buy vegetables in plastic packaging, unpack them before the journey and put them in linen bags. Bin the packaging in the appropriate bins on the shore before you sail out.

Avoid buying food in excessive packaging

All provisions are best purchased in larger packaging, i.e. as little packaging as possible. Basically, all packaging is litter. Of course, paper packaging is a lesser evil than plastic.

The best way for you to be environmentally aware in your sailing, and at the same time to save, is to plan what you are going to cook on board. This will enable you to take the provisions you need and to buy them without plastic packaging. When you leave the boat, make sure you take with you all the provisions that you have not used. In case you did not know, all chartered boats are cleaned and all the provisions are thrown out before the new crew boards the yacht.

Do not buy water and drinks in plastic bottles

 Plastic bottles are extremely dangerous and harmful when they are discarded into the natural environment. What can you do to avoid sailing out with a bunch of plastic bottles? It is simple: use glass. Not so long ago, water and liquids were transported in glass bottles set in wickerwork, so-called demijohns, of 5, 10 or 20 litres. It is true that glass bottles are heavier to transport, but they are not harmful. In Croatia, tap water is good for drinking and decanters should be filled with it. On board a sailing boat, decanters that are not used can be stored under the salon seat.

If you are not able to or cannot be bothered to use glass decanters, then at least make sure you reuse 5-litre plastic bottles. Different water containers can also be used, such as those used for camping.

You probably think that you are doing a good deed for the environment when you recycle plastic bottles. However, please consider the fact that most recycled plastic is turned into plastic bags, and just a small proportion is reused to make new bottles.

According to certain sources, using old plastic bottles is harmful for the health! The habit of reusing empty plastic bottles for water or juice is doubly harmful. The first harm comes from the bacteria growing in the bottle. If a bottle is reused over and over again, the bacteria reproduce and enter the body. Another reason is the fact that a polymer used in bottle production – polyethylene terephthalate– releases toxins over time. The one called DEHA is particularly harmful and carcinogenic. That is why plastic bottles should be used once only and should be recycled afterwards.

Use cotton towels instead of paper towels

Buy recycled and biodegradable toilet paper. The best option is to use cotton towels instead of paper towels, cotton handkerchiefs instead of paper ones, and kitchen towels instead of paper napkins. These are rules for anti-consumerism and environmentally friendly thinking. Do not buy things for single use – look for items that can be used many times.

When on board a sailing boat, try not to throw toilet paper into the water directly or into the black water tank. Take some large paper bags or buy some at the shop to use for toilet paper. When they are filled, dispose of them in the waste container.

Recycled paper is made using many harmful chemicals that should not go into the sea.

Get environmentally friendly personal hygiene products, washing-up liquids and disinfectants

It is fortunate that in the past couple of years it is possible to purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products in Croatia. Specialised shops offer environmentally friendly toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and detergents. If you have chartered a boat, it is recommended you leave environmentally friendly products when you leave the boat in the hope that they will be used by the people who board the boat after you.


Also, pay attention to how often you use these products while sailing. Eventually, all of them end up in the sea.

Most detergents are used for washing dishes. If you are in a ''clean'' spot, you can wash the dishes in seawater, which the fish will enjoy. If you use seawater to wash your dishes, you do not really need detergents, as seawater is a disinfectant. You can use environmentally friendly dish-washing detergent on greasy frying pans or similar.

If you are spending a lot of time sailing or are even living on board a sailing boat, you could probably write a guide yourself. However, have you considered washing your clothes with environmentally friendly products, for example with Sapindus Mukorossi soapnuts, which have natural soap in their shell that melts when it comes into contact with water?

Ask laundry services in marinas to start using alternative detergents. Explain to them that in the long-term they will be able to save not only on the use of detergents, but will also use less water, power and even time spent on ironing, as linen does not get as crumpled in soft water. In addition, we are convinced that they would also like to produce less pollution for seawater, which is a very strong argument to use.

Use environmentally friendly sun protection products

As far as we know, there has been no research into how commercial sun protection products affect the marine ecosystem. There are however indications that commercial sun protection products contain, for example, OMC (octyl methoxycinnamate), which is considered as being potentially toxic. There are also theories that sun protection creams can be carcinogenic because they contain sun-block and prevent the skin from developing a natural reaction to the sun.

You can make a very effective lotion to protect yourself from getting sunburnt yourself. Here is what you need to make 250 ml of sun protection lotion: 


You can also add some calendula and thistle oil and essential oil of your choice for fragrance. However, make sure you do not use oils that affect pigmentation. Do not use cantarion oil, as it leaves stains on your skin.

If you are sunbathing in an area where there are mosquitoes, add some lavender oil to repel them.

This lotion will not protect you from ultraviolet rays, but will make your skin more resistant to them. You need to apply it more often than commercial sun protection products.  

No matter what product you decide to use, you should make sure not to be overexposed to the sun when it is at its most intense (between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.)