A growing number of global citizens have been turning their backs to the skies and setting their sights on the sea instead for more eco-conscious travel. This shift in how we prefer to travel has by no means come by surprise.
Over the past two years of international travel restrictions, we’ve been able to witness in real-time the stark negative effects that air travel can hold on the environment, simply by removing air travel as a factor to be more eco-conscious.
Through global COVID-19 lockdowns, densely populated cities across the world with what we perceived to be chronic air pollution experienced clearing skies for the first time in years if not decades for some. Speaking more locally now, many cities also reported cleaner air quality due to a lack of commuters on roadways.
With all the overwhelming evidence that some of the planet’s most unfortunate environments can be quickly rectified by some eco-conscious alternatives, it was only a matter of time for the age-old art of sailing to swiftly re-enter the zeitgeist.
But what propelled this hobby of yesteryear to becoming the most unequivocally eco-conscious form of international travel in the modern world? Like camping instead of hotels. We’ll be exploring the answer to this question below.
Superior Eco-Conscious Tech and Design
Names like Fountaine Pajot yachts are amongst some of the most popular modern vessels available to avid sailors today, and there’s one key selling point to these particular vessels that may appeal to world travellers more than most: their active and passive fuel efficiency.
Let’s have a look at the passive design elements behind these yachts first. The updated and innovative multihull design of Fountaine Pajot yachts allow these powered vessels to drastically reduce the amount of drag that’s naturally generated by boats when gliding across the surface of the ocean and be more eco-conscious.
As sailing voyages that hug the coastline of landmasses effectively entail navigating waters with a higher total surface area, drag caused by your ship’s hull or hulls can actually greatly reduce the overall fuel efficiency of your vessel. The engineers at Fountaine Pajot saw this common issue amongst their older generation of powered yachts and took their traditional hull design right back to the drawing board. Their new design allows the next generation of Fountaine Pajot yachts to effectively be the most ideal powered yachts for both coastal voyages as well as open sea journeys.
Alongside revisiting the design of modern yachts, many yacht manufacturers are taking efforts to continuously update the engine capacity and motor capabilities, or the active fuel efficiency of their yachts, as well. The balance between fuel consumption and mileage in boats takes into account a variety of factors, including but not limited to vessel size in comparison to engine size. As the new generation of Fountaine Pajot yachts is fitted with twin engines, with one engine occupying one hull, these modern yachts allow travellers to experience an extended travel range when compared against a standard motored monohull vessel.
Utilizing Wind and/or Solar Energy
Alongside opting for an eco-conscious powered vessel, modern sailors also have the option to select a traditional wind-powered monohull yacht or even a vessel that’s fitted with solar panels to harvest solar energy. With no obstacles like trees or skyscrapers to contend with when it comes to solar orientation, there is an abundance of natural sunlight to take advantage of when you’re sailing on the open ocean, so it makes sense for all modern yachts to be fitted with solar energy harvesting capabilities.
And sailing with solar power doesn’t even limit your solar energy being spent on fuelling your vessel alone. Solar energy can be used to power on-board amenities as well, such as your kitchen fittings, lighting, and any appliances with AC adaptors. Harvested solar energy can be used to power sustainable water filtration or sewage disposal systems, further decreasing the overall carbon footprint of your international sailing adventure.
Promoting Mindful Consumption
Speaking of water filtration and waste disposal systems, there’s one particular element of sailing for travel that holds a far greater impact than we may expect it to: the scarcity of options to responsibly dispose of travel waste. International travel of any form naturally culminates in the production of a substantial amount of waste, ranging from plastic packaging of in-flight foods and other materials, to waste produced in the cleaning of commercial airplanes.
With ocean travel, however, you’re essentially forced to keep all of your produced waste on-board with you until the end of your voyage. This reality forces many seafarers to reassess their own waste and break it down into what can easily be eliminated. This makes people make more eco-conscious choices.
Waste products like single-use plastics are generally amongst the first to go, as there’s nothing more sobering than being out in the open water and seeing long lost fragments of plastic waste glistening up at you instead of the glittering scales of fish that you’d initially mistaken them to be.
Alongside single-use plastics, things like glass bottles are also quick to be disposed of, as they are largely hazardous to keep once they’ve been used (because they can’t safely be squashed down like aluminium cans), and they absolutely cannot be thrown overboard.
It doesn’t take very long before travelling parties decide to reassess their own consumption habits and find new ways that they can minimise their waste production during ocean voyages, both out of respect for themselves as well as their wider surroundings.
Respecting the Journey
And that brings us to our last point: respect. Sailing is undoubtedly a slower way to travel, but it can often be much richer for that element alone too. Whilst flying can rapidly get you from one destination to the next, sailing prompts travellers to enjoy the journey along the way too. The vast, blue space that exists between all of Earth’s vibrant continents boasts its own unique experiences, which modern sailors have come to consider an essential aspect of any voyage.
Respecting the journey is highly aligned with the idea of living slowly, maintaining an awareness of the impact that your behaviours hold on the world around you, and most importantly, taking steps to address those impacts. Any novice sailors will soon find that diving into this evergreen form of travel intrinsically involves altering your relationship with the natural world.
So take a leaf out of Greta Thunberg’s book and try sailing to your next holiday destination. You may just find that you’ll never want to be a jet setter again!