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Hampshire Sailing School uses Atlantic crossing for fruit preserving experiment

by Xan Phillips 20 Nov 2018 09:31 UTC 25 November 2018
(L to R) Skipper Ricky Chalmers, Bruce Sayers Watch Leader, First Mate Kirstie Rowe © Xan Phillips

As part of its commitment to running an environmentally friendly business, a Hampshire sailing school not only 'greening' their yachts but also experimenting with a new plastic bag that could keep a ship's fruit fresher on longer voyages - a problem that has plagued sailors for centuries.

"Every sailor has seen the terrible rise in waste on our seas and oceans," said First Class Sailing's principal Charlie Tulloch, "and although we might be practicing green habits on land, we need to take that attitude out to sea."

Based in Southampton, First Class Sailing teaches RYA sailing courses to the level of Ocean Yachtmaster and also crews yachts in races such as the Rolex Fastnet, Round the Island and the Atlantic-crossing ARC Rally.

The school is joining forces with Jeannette Jones, a Solent based representative of Wikaniko, whose 'EcoWarehouse' supplies environmentally friendly alternatives to standard products.

One product they think could have a positive impact on long-distance sailing is a reusable 'keep fresher' bag that helps preserve fruit and vegetables.

"Wikaniko supply 'Fresh Food for Longer' bags that are made in such a way the plastic absorbs the natural gasses fruit emit, the gasses that make them ripen quickly," said Jeannette Jones.

"They work wonders in the fridge, but we haven't heard of anyone trying these bags on long sea journeys. We'll be very interested in the results."

For Charlie Tulloch this is also an exciting prospect, especially for voyages such as the annual ARC Rally, a 14 to 20-day race that crosses the Atlantic from the Canaries to the Caribbean starting this Sunday 25th November.

"Rotting fruit is an age-old problem and many sailors experience 'fruit binges' because a particular group of items has almost gone off and they all need to be eaten on the same day."

He's instructed skipper Ricky Chalmers to organise the 12 strong ARC Rally crew to record daily the rate of degradation between the fruit and veg in the bags and those in the hold. The results will be published on their website at the end of December.

"If we can keep the fruit fresher, for longer, then we'll not only have happy sailors but reduce waste while using a sustainable solution," Charlie added, "Plus there'll be less chance of scurvy - ahrrrrr!"

For First Class Sailings' Solent based yachts it will be washing-up liquid, hand wash, reusable bottles and plastic carrier bags made from starch that form the first 'green wave'.

"With washing water going straight into the ocean," said Jeannette, "the crew needed a product that avoids petrochemicals and phosphates: our washing up liquid is also biodegradable."

"Performing just as well as standard products our hand wash kills 99.9% of harmful bacteria such as E Coli, Salmonella and MRSA. It is also kind to sea life and hands."

"The starch bags will replace the 15 carrier bags that each crew uses to transport food to the yachts for their courses."

Other areas that this project will be looking at is an alternative to bleach for the heads and recycled scourers in the galley.

With over a million households in the UK owning a boat there is great potential for this type of green approach to be very effective on the environment.

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