Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Talking trash

Now in decent weather for a few days, it is time to think of something
else than leaks and mechanical failures. We have been a week at sea and
getting near the time when the trash can in the galley will be full.
When I started taking care of Papy Jovial, I had logged approx 135,000
nautical miles on sailboat, including 5 atlantic ocean crossings and I
had had time to realize that on long passages, the most difficult issues
to tackle are not weather or navigation skills, but managing trash and
water consumption.
Basically, the trash falls into 4 main categories, from a sailboat point
of view. First, food items, second bio degradable items such as carton,
paper, etc, third glass and metal which are not collapsible, and then
all others which are mostly plastic material.
While in port, you deal with the trash exactly the same way you will do
at home and dispose of it in the refuse bins provided by the marina, and
sometime at anchorages.
As soon as you get out of port and confined waters, you can safely throw
food items over the side. Marine life may thank you for that. In the
same time, you begin to sort out the rest of the trash into
biodegradable into one trash bag, glass and metal into a box and plastic
in the regular trash can.
Once you are out of the continental shelf, then it is time to drop over
the side biodegradable items and also glass and metal. However, make
sure you break of fill up with sea water the glass containers to make
sure they sink. For metal cans, we punch holes in them, also to make
sure they sink. At that time, you are in the ocean over thousands of
feet of water and I don't believe throwing glass and metal to the bottom
of the sea is harmful to the environment.
Plastic however have to remain on board. Whenever you drop a plastic
item in the trash bin of the galley, make sure to rinse it and clean it
with sea water so that there is nothing left on it that could ferment
and rot.
Once the trash can is full, I then vacuum pack it using a FoodSaver
machine. It comes with rolls of very strong plastic material 11 inch
wide. I cut bags approximately 2 feet long, seal one end, fill it up
with the plastic items compressed by hand, vacuum pack it and double
seal it. You can then store it safely wherever you want, even in your
clothes, as it won't stain them and won't have a bad smell. We fill up
approximately one of those bags in one week and we store them in the bilge.
I am very happy with that procedure. I looked at other alternatives such
as trash compactor, but I think that this is the most effective, the
least expensive and the safest way of doing it.
So, when we arrive in Rodriguez, all we will have will be 2 tiny little
plastic parcels, our trash for 2 weeks. We were able to drop 2 bags in
the Cocos.

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