“I understand that the owner and the guests may expect a certain type of water on board,” starts Brown. “But for the crew it is unnecessary.” Working for a water treatment specialist and having crewed on superyachts such as Princess Mariana, Brown is all too aware of the problems and the issues. “We do sterilisation systems for yachts that allow you to produce water as if it was bottled,” he continues. “If you’re not buying all that water, you’re not wasting thousands of water bottles and dumping them wherever you go.”
The problem is threefold: bottled water is expensive, bad for the environment and time consuming.
“Lets say that each person on an average charter requires two litres of drinking water per day. The majority of yachts will charter with 10 to 12 guests and, depending on the vessel size, up to 15 crew. So there are 25 people drinking two litres of water a day for a one-month charter. That’s 1,550 litres, which translates into 3,100 water bottles if each bottle is 500ml,” all of which must be loaded, stored and disposed of – often in remote areas – explains Captain Sheppard. Not to mention the carbon footprint.
- Theresa Manwaring, chief stewardess
In light of the MLC, which require yachts to have effective sterilisation systems, Brown adds “it is easy to implement additional systems that can provide drinking water.”. These systems come in many forms; ionisation and UV treatment are two popular options and both have the potential to offset the cost of initial investment in the space of a year or two.
“I know for me personally as the chief stew, I always seem to be provisioning for crew and guest water. We go through so much of it, have little storage space on our yacht and it take us a long time to haul it on board and put it away,” comments Manwaring. “The water bottle issue has always been one of those things that you notice yet most times choose to not think about, or look the other way, when it comes to cost and the amount of plastic trash produced.”
The general consensus, as with many environmental and monetary issues in the superyacht industry, appears to be one of awareness and inactivity. The responsibility for change lies with the key decision makers on board; owners and their captains need to discuss feasible solutions that have the potential to ease the burden of provisioning, reduce the negative impact of plastics on the environment and save money in the process – but successful implementation requires a proactive and understanding crew.