Exploring the yachting world and possibilities on environmental impact
Yachts Environment


This post is also available in: Ελληνικά (Greek)

Every day we are becoming a little bit more conscious of our choices and their impact on our nature. Today we prefer solar and wind power for electricity, ensure that we’ve turned off electrical devices, we take time to divide our garbage, recycle and so on. We are holding ourselves and those around us responsible for using sparingly our resources. In this ethos, tourism in all its formats, but especially airplanes and cruise ships, has received a seriously negative coverage in the media, equalising travelling with these means to offences against humanity.

Various perspectives of an electric ferry, carrying passengers and cars for short distances between mainland and islands
Electric ferry, two way entrance for ease at berthing

Yet at the same time we all crave for recreation, by the end of our working day we look forward to some quality time with our beloved ones. We spend a whole year planning that marvellous escape into a new place, logging for the leisure time with our family, our significant other or friends. When there is a challenge at work we try to focus on those happy experiences from our past vacation or imagine the times ahead. These happy moments of the past or future are what keep us motivated through the troughs of our daily lives.

Yachts fall into the category of pure pleasure items, like the movies, theatres or theme parks. They are made for family get togethers, explorations with friends, experiencing nature a bit further from home. I’ve been working for yachts most of my professional life and I love their uniqueness, the combination of elegance and engineering, the need of innovation in shapes and materials and the result of unparalleled beauty. I often compare them with old palaces that were build in past centuries, possibly even ancient times, for the pleasure or as a show of magnitude for the leaders of that time and now serve as museums or cultural centres, gathering attention and praise.

They are financed by the superrich, who wish quality time and are willing to invest a lot for something extra-ordinary that will also amaze their peers. They are also the ones that lead lobbying for the transformation of the society to more environmentally friendly one. So they need to be true to their convictions, as the whole world is watching and shouts if any inconsistencies are noted.

A general arrangement of a catamaran passenger vessel.
General arrangement for an electric catamaran for passengers transport

Realistically though what are the choices presently available for a superyacht to be environmentally friendly? What are the available materials and practices pertinent in the industry? Which are the parameters that one should take into account while planning to design a yacht? Which are the features that will limit the waste of resources during building/ operation and should considered during the engineering phase? Which methods should be preferred during construction to restrict scrap, energy and pollution? At last how can the yacht be operated more efficiently, protecting the pristine waters and sensitive surroundings?

Definitely the various regulatory organisations have started introducing a legal framework to that effect, but they can do so within the existing technological realm. A very common example is the present repulse to diesel engines and the inclination to abolish them, a noble cause indeed, yet an effective alternative must be first introduced to stand in their place and then push them aside. Indeed many favour LNG in this aspect, as the CO2 emission are a lot lower than diesel, yet during the transfer of LNG through piping and during in the burning cycle of the engine, there is considerable amount of methane released, which is 30times more detrimental than CO2 in the greenhouse effect. So we definitely ought to have a more broad approach in our evaluation. It is my intention with this blog to investigate the possible options throughout the various phases of design, build and operation of the yachts. I intend to do so approaching from multiple perspectives each options, in order to have a better understanding of their value.

In the following weeks I will go through the various stages, various aspects defining yacht building, from the materials being used, design features and production practices, going through the mainstream options and interesting, novice ideas put forward in the recent years.