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June 22, 2017

4 Conservation Lessons Learned From Living On a Sailboat


When I think back to my Italian years it’s still hard to believe that I spent about 65% of my time sailing around the Mediterranean – from Naples to Sicily, to Ibiza and back. The longest amount of time I spent on-board was about two weeks straight; for three days I didn’t leave the yacht. Well, maybe for a quick swim or two ūüėČ It was a terrible lifestyle. Kidding kidding, I was a real lucky duck and miss it loads!

Being on board taught me a lot about conservation – the normal things you do like washing dishes, showering, or turning on the light all take on a new meaning when you get on board. It’s like a silent game where the goal is to conserve resources, and everyone is in because if you aren’t playing the game you look like a real jerk. I made a list of a few foundational things that have been forever instilled in my mind for those that are either looking to take a boat trip, as well as just to share for those interested, since boat life rules.

Here are four lessons I learned about conservation while experiencing life on-board:

  1. Meal prep and clean up: We had an Sicilian chef on board so there was really never much food left on our plates ūüėČ BUT if there was we’d first toss any bits into the sea (the fish would gobble it up). ¬†Then we’d take our items to be cleaned to the kitchen galley and soap up our plates and cutlery using a tiny bit of water (only to wet the sponge) – and with NO water running make sure all our items had a “dry wash”. Once everything was sufficiently soapy, only then would we turn the water back on to clear off the soap (using minimal water of course). It’s important to fully rinse and dry any silverware as well,¬†or you may get little rust spots. When it came to the cooking,¬†depending on what was for lunch we’d use salt water in place of fresh water – for example when cooking a pasta or¬†panzanella¬†(a classic Southern Italian dish that requires you to moisten the bread portion of the dish). And guess what? ¬†It was always GLORIOUS.¬†We also used glass often, to limit plastic use.
  2. Grooming and showering: One of my¬†favorite things to do after the last swim of the day was to take an outdoor shower. Who doesn’t love an outdoor shower? There was a little water hose at the back of the yacht, where we kept shampoo and body wash. After we were done with our swims we’d scurry over to the “shower”, and just like we’d soap up the dishes, we’d do a “dry wash”. But really, you still have a little water on your skin and your hair is still wet from the sea so lathering is not a problem. Then, you just open the water hose a tiny bit, and VIOL√Ä – clean. For teeth-brushing, we always kept a cup of water nearby in our cabins and/or bathrooms, so we’d just use a bit if water to rinse with – leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth can easily waste gallons of water. For all other things clean, I adore the little makeup remover towelettes – they work wonders for more than your face ūüėČ AND since makeup is minimal on board, I would typically rip one in half for a longer supply.
  3. Laundry and maximizing your wardrobe: Luckily, being on a boat you’re really not¬†wearing much all that often. I was always in a bathing suit, or a cover up. To wash bathing suits, it’s easy breezy: I’d leave it on when I did my “last swim of the day shower”, then pin it up on the side of the yacht to dry using clothes pins. ¬†After a night out I’d let my dress/top air out overnight, and if it still required a clean only then would I add it to the laundry pile.
  4. Power and¬†electricity: We tried to use the generator ¬†as little as possible – turning on the generator meant use of power, and we automatically were always trying to conserve it. ¬†In retrospect, we were rockstars about operating the boat without it – the only time we would use the generator was to get the ice maker going, or switch on the tv (but now we can stream entertainment via Netflix, so that’s another tactic on how to conserve), and of course getting the A/C working as well as to churn up hot water for a shower (which we rarely did, since we were such big fans of our fake outdoor shower). Generators also have this funny way of constantly breaking, so more times than not were we left to our our devices, and everyone survived just fine. Just remember, as long as the wine is chilled and the beer is cold you will be A-OK.

I’d recommend anyone looking to take a sailing trip do a cabin charter, where you can rent a cabin on a sailboat which costs much less then chartering the entire yacht – and is a great way to make the most use of the boat space. ¬†The company I co-founded when I lived in Italy is called IntersailClub, and while I am no longer heavily involved, we always had the best itineraries and Captains all over the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and more!

I encourage you to please contact me if this type of holiday feels right for you, for more info or news on specials. My years sailing were some off the best years of my life! <3



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