How the minimum criteria of the responsible travel standard was met...
The nature of en expedition at sea means that we have no set itinerary and can never say where or when we will arrive at a community. The only timings and locations we can any fairly strong measure of certainty about are the start and finish points. As we make our way along a coast, we stop every second or third day and look to buy fresh supplies. This involves the purchase of food, drinks and other consumables. By it’s nature, this means we are spending our money at local shops, local markets and often with the fisherman who have just brought in the catch. We encourage the use of local markets over chain stores, whilst also recognising that every business is valuable as a source of income and economic activity. The skipper or mate will always visit the local tourist office if our stay is for a day or two (often it is just overnight) and they will bring back details of local attractions and businesses to the crew.
We often also need to buy spares for the boat or employ a local tradesmen to help us carry out maintenance and repairs. This again is a really powerful source of funds to local workmen and companies. As most of this expenditure goes directly to the locals rather than to large multi-nationals, it means that it stays in the community and directly benefits them.
The particular issue of coastal locations
Many coastal areas are experiencing particular pressure from a change in lifestyles and economic realities. They are very attractive places both for tourists and for holiday home owners, meaning that the local population are often squeezed out to accommodate the influx. Previously they may also have been very reliant on the fishing industry which now has real problems of its own. The combination of these factors has put many of our stop overs under huge economic pressure. Our use of marinas and berthing fees, our purchase of food and supplies and our use of the local tradesmen and companies all produce very real benefits along the way and we’re delighted that that’s the case.
We send everything out electronically, except for one printed brochure. Print uses masses of energy and chemicals. It also consumes large amounts of water, paper, aluminium and plastics. All trip information, booking confirmations, terms and conditions, trip notes and even feedback forms are handled electronically.
We recognise that travel to and from the expedition will probably produce about 200 kilograms of CO2. Considering it’s just for a holiday, it’s not great. However, not only can our clients easily contribute to a project that completely offsets that emission, they can also help developing communities at the same time. We have teamed up with The Carbon Neutral Company to offer our clients a really easy way to offset the CO2 and make a difference.
On an expedition, we’ll visit towns and cities and also be anchoring in pristine bays, deserted coves and visiting areas rich in wildlife. When we visit anywhere, it’s critical that we leave no environmental impact. That means a rigorous policy of no littering, no burnt ground after camp fires and no removal of any plants or objects. Today marine debris in the oceans is one of the major threats to the marine environment so no metal, plastic or glass will ever be thrown overboard, no matter how far out to sea we are and food waste will only be thrown overboard if we are more than 6nm offshore. The environment when we arrive should be in exactly the same condition as when we leave.
On expedition, we form a very tight group, which is a huge part of the experience. However, as a result it can be all too easy to arrive in a new place after a time at sea and forget to show proper respect for an area’s cultures and customs. We would never suggest hiding our own culture or lifestyle, because it is just as important and valuable as any other. We have chosen to visit someone else’s home, however, so we try to absorb and understand the local way of life.
As we’re on a sailing expedition, we can never be quite sure where we will stop until an hour or two before. However, in your expedition manual we provide clients with background information on the area as a whole, including it’s history and culture. We also encourage them to read up about the area on your own, by providing them with links to great internet resources. On board, they’ll find Lonely Planet guides which are also a brilliant way of reading up on specific areas once we know our day’s itinerary.
Clients will find that the locals are often just as fascinated about them as they are about them. It’s not often a yacht the size of Hummingbird, painted as she is, arrives in town! They love to hear about the expedition we are on; where we’ve been to and where we’re headed. Clients will find the locals are usually delighted that we have chosen to stop at their town. We’ll often invite them onboard and show them round the boat. This sharing of our culture and activities with them is what it’s all about and we really encourage it.