10 Tips for Eco-Friendly Sailing

Plastic Free July is a global movement aimed at reducing single-use plastics around the world. Here are some other ways you can be more sustainable and environmentally-friendly when sailing.

23rd Jul 2019

With thousands of people taking yacht charters in the Mediterranean and Caribbean every year, it is more important than ever to be aware of how to travel and sail sustainably.

We were inspired to write these tips for sustainable sailing after following Plastic Free July. It is a global movement encouraging people to reduce their use of single-use plastics and be more mindful of how their actions affect the environment.

1. Sail! Don't use the engine if you can avoid it

Do what your boat was designed for and if the prevailing conditions are suitable, hoist the mainsail and unfurl the jib.

Sail, don't motor
Use the power of the wind

Nothing beats the quiet stillness of travelling by the power of the wind only, with no engine noise. And a bonus – it is the most environmentally-friendly way to travel!

As always we recommend to do whatever you feel comfortable with considering your level of knowledge and experience, taking into account the wind conditions.

2. Dispose of waste appropriately

According to the RYA’s Green Blue, over 50,000 marine mammals die every year from becoming tangled in or eating marine litter. 

Dispose of waste appropriately
Be responsible with waste disposal

Play your part in reducing this by picking up any litter you see on beaches or elsewhere, and make sure you dispose of your own waste responsibly.

Each marina and port on your yacht charter should have a waste disposal point for you to use.

3. Take reusable cups and bottles

One of the easiest things to do in our guide is to take reusable coffee cups and water bottles with you on charter.

A reusable cup
Switch to a reusable coffee cup

A coffee cup is perfect for when you want a hot drink in the departure lounge before your outbound and inbound flights. 

We like this cup from Ecoffee. Made from bamboo – one of the world’s most sustainable crops – it comes in 100 different designs and colours. 

A water bottle is useful for when you want to go ashore for a day of sightseeing and avoid buying bottled water.

4. Offset your carbon footprint

Air travel creates 12% of transport-related carbon emissions, according to the European Commission

Offset the carbon from your jourmey

You can join a carbon offsetting scheme which would mean you are supporting projects around the world that reduce carbon emissions – for example, tree planting projects. The easiest thing to do is to make use of your airline’s carbon offsetting scheme, but there are other options available.

Carbon Footprint has a comprehensive guide if you’d like to learn more about offsetting carbon emissions.

5. Use an eco-friendly sunscreen

Several of our destinations are home to stunning coral reefs ideal for snorkelling and diving, including the British Virgin Islands, the Seychelles, Thailand and the Maldives

A good book will help while away the time at anchor

Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world and using eco-friendly sunscreen is an easy way to be more environmentally friendly when on a yacht charter. Standard sunscreens often use ingredients which can be harmful to coral reefs and marine life.

Dive Magazine has got a good guide to eco-friendly sunscreens in this blog post.

6. Buy local - not from supermarkets

We always recommend to shop locally when on a LateSail yacht charter, rather than from supermarket chains. 

A good book will help while away the time at anchor

A lot of the bigger ports and marinas will have a shop on site where you can buy your provisions, for example ACI Marina in Split or Alimos Marina Kalamaki in Athens.

It’s so much nicer to prepare a meal using fresh, local ingredients. If you’re heading to Greece, we have some food inspiration for you

7. Be careful where and how you drop the anchor

Anchoring badly and without being mindful can damage plants and other marine life on the seafloor. 

Be aware of where you anchor

Charity organisation Sailors for the Sea has a comprehensive guide on how to anchor safely, including these points:

  • Anchor in water deep enough to avoid grounding your vessel with tide change.
  • If possible, anchor in sand or mud and avoid sensitive ecosystems.
  • If anchoring ashore, carefully place the anchor to minimize coastal damage. Avoid sand dunes and don’t tie your rope to a tree, they both protect inland areas from the destructive forces of wind and waves

8. Row, don’t use the outboard

Modern four-stroke outboard engines are more environmentally friendly than their older two-stroke counterparts.

Go old fashioned and use the oars

But there’s an even more sustainable way to get ashore – use the oars and row. It might take you a bit longer but you can make it fun and even get the kids involved.

9. Go slow and take in the view

On your yacht charter it might be appealing to go full speed ahead under engine to your next destination, but there are lots of benefits to taking it slow.

Slow down and relax

Not only does it make you more mindful of your surroundings, reducing engine power by as little as 10% from full throttle will save 20% in fuel costs, according to Sailors for the Sea.

10. Respect the rules about emptying holding tanks

Each country has different rules about this so make sure you check with the operator when you check in. Each country has different rules about this so make sure you check with the operator when you check in. 

Make use of the marina's facilties

Depending on where you moor up for the night you may be able to use the pump station facilities at the marina or port.

But it goes without saying that holding tanks should not be emptied near beaches, where people are swimming or where there is an abundance of marine life.

For more information

To find out more about being sustainable on a yacht charter or boat, go to these websites:

Plastic Free July

The RYA’s Green Blue (UK)

Sailors for the Sea (US)

Get in touch

If you want to know more about chartering a yacht in the Mediterranean, Caribbean or any other destination, speak to one of our experts who will be happy to share their knowledge with you.

Use our price comparison tool to search for charters by date or destination, request a quote or contact our team on 01227 479 900.

Don't see what you're looking for?

The Latesail team are all experienced sailors who can help you find the perfect charter. Get in touch and we are happy to provide a personal service. Call us on: 01227 479 900

Don’t See What You Want?

With so much choice available, why not get one of our charter experts to help?

Simply fill out the details below and we will get in touch.


    We send weekly emails with sailing guides and our pick of the best yacht charter offers. Don't worry - we won't spam you.
  • Hidden
  • Hidden
Arrange a Callback