A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew
A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew
Purpose

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

The release of new groundbreaking guidelines aim to assist superyacht crew in making the best decisions on board.

By Dominique Afacan | 2 April 2024

Reading around sustainability in the superyachting industry often leads to positive articles about progress made in alternative energy sources and transitions, but there is another fruitful opportunity for eco-improvement – and it lies onboard. 

New Environmental Crew Guidelines by Water Revolution Foundation have just been drawn up, written for and by crew offering inspiration and information for eco-friendlier behaviour on board superyachts. The guidelines were initiated by MB92 and created by Danella Hopkins, former chief stew on Black Pearl, one of the most eco-friendly sailing yachts in the world. 

“We had a lot of good practices on Black Pearl,” says Hopkins, “but there’s never been enough time to write these things down in a comprehensive way – until now. I saw the guidelines as an opportunity to finally concentrate on creating something that could be shared with the entire fleet, enabling everyone to make a difference.” 

Many industry titans have already pledged their support, along with management companies, brokerages and crew networks. Two yachts, Black Pearl and Savannah have also come onboard as ambassadors within the fleet. It seems there has been a thirst for this kind of support to help crew adopt better practices in their daily routines. 

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

Danella Hopkins (right)

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

Danella Hopkins (right)

A starting point for change 

“I think the project ended up bigger than everyone expected,” says Hopkins. “It was like going down a rabbit hole of information. As soon as we got into it, we found more and more ground that we needed to cover.” The team have labelled this launch as ‘version one’ signalling that there is room for evolution and improvement as feedback is received from everyone involved. 

“We’ve got the guidelines to a good place where they are very comprehensive and structured in a way that should work for each department. Hopefully now that they are out we can get some feedback on how they could be improved and become more user friendly. We want them to become that tool in the industry that everybody has contributed to and will want to use as the standard.”

On launch day, there were over 100 downloads of the guidelines – a strong start by all accounts. And the general consensus has been that they are a valuable resource. Already – crew are reaching out, asking how to be ambassadors. “People see the value but they realise it’s not going to be easy,” says Hopkins. “Some crew and yachts will of course be more motivated than others. Ultimately, we just want to give people the right tools and empower them.” 

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

Crew of Black Pearl

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

Crew of Black Pearl

Small steps lead to big change 

The guidelines cover all bases – from recruitment and pre-departure procedures to water management, laundry and deck crew. And while adopting all 24 best practices at once might be unrealistic, they certainly offer a concrete starting point for crew to build on. “We don’t expect everyone to do it all in one go,” agrees Hopkins. “Crew can figure out the best way to implement it on their specific yacht and think about what might be best for them to address first.”

Hopkins points to some low-hanging fruit by way of example. “One of the first things for me when I was on Black Pearl was recruitment. Because it was an eco-minded project, I wanted to recruit people who were proactively seeking sustainable practices from a boat. I ended up with a team who were all very motivated as a result.”

Other best practices involve things like provisioning and packaging. “You still see provisions being delivered in polystyrene boxes. It shouldn’t be acceptable,” says Hopkins. “There are other provisioners out there, such as Ocean Pantry, who are making a real effort and also supporting their local communities throughout the whole process. We need to share knowledge about this sort of thing.” 

Many superyachts also carry medical supplies on board and Hopkins received valuable input around sustainable practices here for the guidelines from the nurse on board Black Pearl. “The medical side of things can be really challenging with the amount of single use plastics,” says Hopkins. “On Black Pearl we would use supplies that were going out of date for training purposes, or find charitable organisations and animal shelters that were able to accept these.”

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

Crew of Black Pearl

A helping hand for a more eco-aware crew

Crew of Black Pearl

And once again, packaging was an issue. “All the medical supplies were at one point  delivered in Ziplocs, but because everyone wanted to reduce plastics, they started to repackage these bundles using recycled paper. Our supplier, Medaire, really embraced this change as this also improved the packing process and items are now sitting more secure in their boxes during transit.” Hopkins says it is always worth asking suppliers to make changes. “The more you challenge your suppliers and increase the demand for more eco-friendly options the more they will start listening.” 

The guidelines also encourage crew to think about the ways in which they use chemical products. “In the interior in particular, we’ve found that crew are often cleaning things without considering the correct use of treatments and techniques to protect it in the way that they should,” says Hopkins. “So they over clean and sometimes wear away the surface finish, rather than asking themselves what they could be doing to ensure the longevity and the lifespan of what it is they are cleaning.”

There is certainly plenty of information for crew to get their teeth stuck into – and doubtlessly the wheels are officially in motion for a more environmentally sound fleet. “We don’t expect magic overnight, it’s going to take time, but we’ve got to start somewhere.” And the Environmental Crew Guidelines look to be that perfect place.

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