Sunday, 20 September 2009


Garbage, basura, call it what you will but it's a never ending problem on board a sailing boat.

Over the years we've had our fair share of learning experiences! Worst has to be the hordes of squirming white maggots that proved impossible to eradicate. We carried the little buggers for a couple of weeks before we were able to jettison them in a proper refuse area. Yuck.

I wouldn't say that I am a rampant ecologically driven human being but I do have respect for my planet and in particular the oceans that we live on. The sight of otherwise pristine islands desecrated by floating plastic bags and those immortal water bottles is a sad sight.

I learnt the hard way that refuse stowage on the boat is a serious issue. Apart from smell, health hazard there is also the space issue to be addressed!

So when we go shopping now I remove all extraneous packaging right there at the checkout, makes eyebrows raise I can tell you. Let them have the disposal problem, after all there is far too much packaging on most products anyway. I buy refills of things like washing up liquid, our current squeezy bottle at the sink has been with us since Trinidad. Refills of fabric conditioner, liquid soap etc.

If we are offshore, in deep water, cans are jettisoned overboard along with all bio-degradable crap. We open the ends fully to ensure they will sink. The very few bottles, we don't drink alcohol on passages, are carefully filled with seawater and also go overboard.

All plastic wrappings are carefully washed, prevents maggots developing, compacted and stored until landfall where we make sure they are dumped in a 'proper' refuse facility. Beware the lads who for five bucks take away the trash only to dump it over the nearest hedge.

I never resent the charges that countries make for this service.

It's much harder when you are cruising as we are at the moment, inshore. NOTHING, apart from food scraps goes over the side.Mind you it pays to be careful on this one too. We were in Panama when after an excellent Sunday lunch shared with friends the hostess threw the remains of the leg of lamb overboard. A mighty splash and snapping of jaws left her shaking from a rather too close call with a large crocodile!

Cans are washed and crushed to save space and we store the trash in a cold box below decks. Liberally sprayed every few days with Lysol we can usually keep going for 2-3 weeks until it is full.

One of the items on my wanted list is a can-crusher. I reckon it will cut our volume by half. Another thing for the next child to bring out with them!

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