Want to reduce your yacht’s carbon footprint? We pick out four eco-friendly upgrades to consider


1. Ditch the teak

Teak is no longer universally popular. The price has gone up dramatically, supply is dwindling, and the ethics of the supply chain are difficult to trace. Artificial teak, despite a loyal following, is a plastic product with much less aesthetic appeal than the gently ageing hue of wood. But there is a new alternative in the form of engineered timber decking.

Lignia (pictured above) is made of radiata pine softwood engineered through resin infusion to appear and function similar to a hardwood. The appearance is very similar to teak, as is the cost, though shipwrights report it can be slightly harder to work with.

Price: Depends on installation, but around the same cost as teak, with a 20-year plus lifespan.

Ease of installation: 6/10

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2. Go electric

eco-friendly-yacht-upgrades-torqeedo-electric-outboardFor those starting with an electric outboard, the benefits begin with an engine that breaks down into component parts of a manageable weight that are easy to get on and off the tender by hand. Easily changeable batteries also mean it’s simple to leave one battery on charge while the other is in use.

Replacing an inboard engine with an electric model is more complex, but there are some unexpected advantages; through hull fittings are not needed, motors are around a fifth of the size of a diesel engine and installation eliminates the need for a large prop shaft. Wiring is also surprisingly uncomplicated.

Prices: Torqeedo Travel 1003-CS Outboard (3hp equivalent) – £1,699; Ocean VoltSail Drive 15 System (30-45hp equivalent) – £32,842 + VAT and installation.

Ease of installation: 7/10

3. Power management

Generating green power is pointless if the batteries storing it are not efficient. Making a plan of how much power you realistically use should be the first step in any power refit plan. Sophisticated battery monitoring means it’s now easy to record what uses what.

There’s no universal answer as to which boat battery is ‘best.’ As a general rule, smaller yachts with lower draw tend to fit Absorbed Glass Matt batteries, while those with high draw appliances increasingly use lithium-based technology. Instant hot water taps, microwaves and even some new generation air conditioning systems can all be run with a lithium boat battery.

Prices: Victron Energy BMG-712 Smart Battery Monitor with Bluetooth Connection – £185; Victron Lithium Super Pack battery 12.8V 100Ah – £1,160.

Ease of installation: 9/10

eco-friendly-yacht-upgrades-watt-sea-hydrogenerator4. Add a water turbine

Solar power has improved dramatically in recent years, but it still takes time to pack charge back into your yacht while under way. If you need a solution for fast charging while on passage, a water turbine is fast becoming the go-to technology, sacrificing a small amount of boat speed for a lot of amps.

Hydrogenerators are popular on the offshore racing circuit as the sacrifice in speed is negligible for most designs. Modern units from Watt & Sea (pictured right) can now be easily engaged and recovered. Mounted on the transom, or permanently installed at the build stage, turbines can be optimised for the conditions and speed of the hull by altering the prop pitch.

Watt & Sea builds versions for cruisers and racers that work at up to 30 knots hull speed.

Price: Watt & Sea Cruising 300 Generator – £3,504 (inc VAT.)

Ease of installation: 9/10

Reduce your power consumption

Here are 3 easy fixes that will instantly reduce your consumption on-board:

  • Swap incandescent bulbs for LEDs, both above and below deck. Halogen bulbs heat up the interior as well as being a big drain on battery power.
  • Keep freezers and fridges full. Bring them down to temperature on the dock while still on shore power. Use bags of ice or frozen water bottles to fill gaps.
  • Turn off your inverter when not in use. Using it to boost battery output from 12/24V to 220V can sap your batteries very quickly.

First published in the April 2020 edition of Yachting World.