Posts tagged ‘virgin islands’

June 25, 2011

"Ode to the Credit Card Captains"

As you may know, my parents have been off on a sailing adventure in the BVI’s for the past two weeks. They came home with great tans, good stories, and a renewed ability to cope with their crazy busy lives in the States. (Honestly I’m just glad they came back, I was pretty sure I’d get a phone call telling me to sell the house and all their belongings and forward the proceeds to their new expatriate lifestyle in the Carribbean.)

Sail charters in the BVI’s are fairly common, but not all the potential captains are particularly well screened for competency. Case in point, the “Credit Card Captains” in this jaw-dropping little video. Whew. Of course I’m far more concerned about the damage done to the harbor by the anchorage, dragging of mooring balls, and all the rest – but my Dad assures me most of the harbor where this scene unfolded is sand and rubble rock bottom, so they probably didn’t damage too much seagrass bed and coral reef in the process.

June 17, 2011

Sailing Dilemmas in the BVI

Things my family is doing without me, probably! Photo: S. Lardizabal

My parents, sister, and brother in law are.. as I type.. bathing in glorious Virgin Island sun and bright blue saltwater as I sit here laboring away Stateside in the name of work.  Talk about unfair!  Dad and Mom are experienced sailors and chartered a sailboat for a two-week self-guided tour of the Islands’ offerings.  Two weeks in a boat!  Alone!

It was all very romantic until my Mom realized she would need to cook, clean, and perhaps do a load of laundry in a bucket on a self-sufficient vacation.  This didn’t phase her; it was purchasing the proper cooking and cleaning supplies that sent her for a bit of a loop.

Now I say “proper” because if you’re on a boat in the Caribbean you need to remember that there isn’t a whole lot of processing of the wastewater coming off your vessel.  A lot of it is indirectly rinsed into the nearby ocean, including any soaps, oils, or other residues carried along for the ride.  When you’re moored up to a permanent anchor over a coral reef, this potential effluent is all the more troubling, particularly when you have a marine science nerd in the family who rants about perchlorate, dioxins, SLS, parabens, formaldehyde donators, and so on.  (And to be fair, my Mom studied marine bio at UMiami and Dad is a Merchant Marine Academy grad.  They’re both highly aware and motivated to conserve all things salty.)

Luckily, there’s been a bit of a revolution with “clean” and “green” products lately.  I was able to help them navigate enough of the available choices between a few supermarkets and mass retailers to come up with some suitable more-reef-friendly alternatives including castile based soaps (like Dr. Bronners), hand soaps with plant-based-bacteria-inhibitors (like CleanWell), and a few other things.

Ah, but I can hear you.. what about back on land? Yep, it’s still important and being mindful of downstream effects is one of the reasons I’ve been slowly converting our household cleaning products, laundry products, cosmetics, and personal care products over the last few years.

If you’re likewise interested in learning what to avoid and what’s a good choice, mosey over to Environmental Working Group.  I know, I keep bringing them up, but EWG is the source on a lot of this info.  And when you’re ready to graduate to choosing organic foods (because pesticides and fertilizers rinse down the fields to the watershed too!) they’re also a great source for that.  Heck, you can even just check to see what sort of weebeasties are floating around in your tap water already while you’re at it!

Finally, if you’re a regular at the marina, Ocean Conservancy has a guide on their website with tips for mindful and conservation-minded boater.