Sustainability and sailing

I attended a cruising conference organised by Irish Sailing this past weekend. It turned out to be excellent. The lineup of speakers included:

Paul Scannell and Mary Healy who cruised round Ireland (very carefully!) in a 41-year-old
inland waterways vessel

Kylie McMillan and her experience of a man overboard at night
and the importance of having a plan and training

Coastguard explaining the ins and outs of a helicopter lift

Norman Kean on the future of diesel for leisure craft

Damian Foxall on sustainability and the changes Volvo Ocean Race made

Niall Hatch of Bird Watch Ireland on the lives of coastal birds and identifying

· Vera Quinlan's vlog on preparing to sail the Atlantic circuit as a citizen science project
with children under 12 years old

Toni O'Leary of Union Chandlery on battery management on-board

I am delighted to say that I learned quite a lot. I learned the most from well-known sailor Damian Foxall who was the sustainability officer for the VOR Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing. They undertook an analysis and tracking program, along with education and implementation of a strategic plan for reducing environmentally unfriendly practices. The final report of the initiative is quite enlightening especially for circumnavigators.  By refusing, reducing, reusing, recycling and offsetting, we can significantly improve the footprint we leave behind. It opened my mind to some new ideas. Time to put them into practice.

Tied in with this topic, Niall Hatch's talk on coastal bird watching and identification was fascinating. He covered a lot of mileage in a short time, including the effects of plastic pollution of the oceans on birds. We're doing well in some areas of conservation, poorly in others, and climate change is causing some species to move away and others to move in. But plastics are the scourge to tackle. So here we go. 


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