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Hitchhiking on Sailboats is the New Green Initiative


It is evident that the green movement is in full swing of late as more and more people are embracing environmentally friendly practices in their personal lives. Even businesses are getting in on the action with more and more corporations introducing and implementing environmental initiatives in their day to day operations. Indeed, with awareness comes responsibility, and the main message that all environmental activists share is a simple one: it starts with the individual.

Personal initiative

Such is the message that intrepid traveler Charlotte Jones has taken to heart in one of her most exciting adventures to date. Charlotte, a staunch nature lover and environmental activist, had already adopted green practices to her daily life. She had been growing her own food and patronizing organic and sustainable products for a while now. She had even given up her car, choosing to use public transport to get around. She also participates in green campaigns.

In 2008, wanting to visit her grandparents in her mother’s native Bermuda, she started considering the potentially damaging impact of air travel on the environment. Although the aviation industry is adamant that airplanes only account for between 1.5 and 2 percent of CO2 emissions globally, this is actually just the tip of the iceberg. This does not take into account other outputs like water vapor, soot, and nitrous oxide. Taking these into account, air travel actually accounts for between 13 and 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United Kingdom alone.

“I was trying to live as sustainably as possible in every other way—I wasn’t driving and was growing my own food it was a pleasure. But not being able to fly was difficult because of my grandparents living in a completely inaccessible place,” Charlotte explained.

Slow travel

Indeed, Charlotte was right to think that there is cause for concern. She then made the research on alternative travel options, which was how she discovered that hitchhiking on sailboats was actually a feasible idea. In a nutshell, this allows people to travel with ships from port to port as volunteer crew members.

The first time she Charlotte did it in 2008, she managed to sail from the UK to Bermuda on five different boats. The entire journey took seven months. There were brief stops in Portugal and the Canary Islands, as well as a crossing down the African coast which took four weeks before making the turn onwards to the British Virgin Islands.

In her most recent trip last year, however, the British Virgin Islands was still recovering from a recent hurricane. Unfortunately, there was not a lot of sailing to and from the area. The plan was to get off and look for another boat but this time she had to fly the last bit because of the damage from the hurricanes. There wasn’t enough of sailing going on.

To many, it does seem like sailing across the Atlantic is a tall order—especially when one is hitchhiking on strange boats with no set schedule. Hitchhiking on sailboats is truly not for everyone, to say the least. However, Charlotte is of the opinion that if you really want adventure, you do not need much experience because you learn as you go along.

“Once you get to know some of the routes that the yachts go, you find boats going to wherever you want to go. There are tricky sides—you don’t always necessarily get on with everyone but you learn a lot along the way. It sounds a bit cheesy but it does give you lots of faith in humanity—the number of people I put my life into their hands,” Charlotte shared.

A growing movement

Charlotte is not the only one who has chosen to sail instead of flying to destinations for environmental reasons. As a matter of fact, it is already a growing movement among the environmentally conscious. One such organization that is set to “radically changing the way people travel” is VoyageVert. As a sustainable alternative to flight, the organization plans to offer transatlantic sailing via ferry with the use of a cutting-edge catamaran that is powered by wind and renewable energy sources by 2020.

Indeed, slow travel for the sake of the environment is a growing revolution. With people becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and showing genuine care for the earth’s welfare, it is an idea that is bound to take off.


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