Our long time friends at Sailors For The Sea continue their mission to ‘clean up sailing’, and their latest push is for racers to get rid of disposal water bottles for good. Southern California native and Melges 32 floater/crew glue Leslie Baehr sends in this report from Team INTAC at Key West. It’s great advice for the right cause – be sure to see how SFTS can help make your club or event greener at their site.
Few things trouble a boat’s Minister of the Interior as much as plastic water bottles. There is the inconvenient task of purchasing and transporting an entire isle of water bottle 24-pack cases. Then there is the daily burden of hauling just over 30 lbs of water out to your boat. There is also my personal favorite water bottle related activity: the between-race hunt for bottles carelessly thrown down below during races. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is the issue of what to do with the water bottles when you are finished.
Everyday our 8-person Melges 32 team races, I pack four bottles per person. That is 32 bottles a day. With at least 50 racing days scheduled in a year, that is 1,600 water bottles. While we make every effort to recycle those bottles, often facilities are not available or the bottles end up mixed in with the rest of the boat’s trash.
As an alternative to this mess, our team followed suit with the Melges 20 fleet, which took the initiative to green the fleet’s liquids. We purchased a different color 21 oz stainless steel water bottle for each team member, placing them in a bottle caddy (~ $10) to keep them all together and keep them from becoming missiles down below. In general, it was easier to move around the plastic caddy and required less space than the large bag of disposable water bottles that it replaced.
Our process is to fill the bottles on the dock in the morning from either a large container or a dock hose fitted with a filter. Once racing, it is very easy to pass the caddy full of bottles up on deck and let everyone get their personally colored bottle. Some of the big guys get two and if any need to be refilled, we pass up the spare gallon jug and top them off. Though prepping the bottles for the day was a concern at first, it ended up taking less time and effort to fill eight empty bottles than packing the 30 lbs of water we would usually bring from our hotel. We found that one set of filled water bottles and one extra gallon jug was sufficient for the day. It is important to make sure that the gallon jug has either a secure top or is placed in such a way as to avoid rolling around. We chose the latter option and did not have a problem.
An individual reusable stainless steel water bottle can run from $15-$25. They are both environmentally and practically superior to other options as they are durable, safe and recyclable. Aluminum bottles are also an option, but may be non-recyclable and less safe depending on their lining. Reusable plastic water bottles are the cheapest option (around $8-$10 per bottle), but tend not to hold up as well in the heat and are less widely recyclable once you are through with them. In the end, it was faster, easier and more environmentally conscientious to use the bottles.
Save money, save the sea, and give your crew something special.