Garbage and Hygiene

Ship: Pelican of London
Date: 09.01.2024
Nautical position: 17°00.7’N 048°55.8’W
Etmal: 115 nm
Total: 4259 nm

Pelican of London unter Segeln

Having 47 people on board (who would believe it) leads to a tremendous amount of rubbish. Disposal and correct storage are of great importance for life on board. Space is one of the various precious resources. Especially for long crossings like the current Atlantic crossing, dealing with our resources keeps the vessel and the routine functioning while being away from the shore.

Disposal of Garbage

Minimizing the amount of garbage to the absolute bare minimum is the first goal in dealing with disposal. Not only is space on board limited, but also getting the garbage ashore comes with certain conditions depending on the area. Cape Verde, for example, has specific restrictions when dealing with garbage disposal from tall ships. When using their service to dispose of garbage, they charge 10 euros for every bag. Having the minimum amount of garbage isn’t only due to space reasons but also caused by financial considerations.

For getting the garbage ashore, the term used on the Pelican is the garbage run. With nearby garbage disposal areas, it is either brought on land by foot or with the rib. To ensure recycling, the garbage gets separated into food waste, tins and cans, hard plastic, and everything else. Unfortunately, recycling isn’t as common as it should be, and due to the lack of diverse bins, it gets disposed of in the same bin, not considering the content.


Depending on the area, certain types of garbage are allowed to be disposed of in the sea. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, short the Marine Pollution Regulations (MARPOL regs), regulates the rules for what ships can and cannot discharge at sea. There are regulations dealing with oil, sewage, garbage, and air pollution.

Food waste, which can pass through a net with mesh no larger than 25 mm, can be disposed of outside of special areas and Arctic waters when being 3 or more nautical miles away. Within special areas and Arctic waters, it is permitted to dispose of it while being 12 or more nautical miles away from shore (in our case, this includes water from cleaning).

Garbage special areas are parts of the world where the impact of throwing waste overboard would be higher than in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by land and with a delicate balance of marine life that we need to preserve, which is why disposal is minimized. Examples of these areas are the Mediterranean Sea area, Baltic Sea area, Red Sea area, Gulfs area, and the Antarctic area.

Next to food waste, goods such as cargo residues not contained and contained in washwater, cleaning agents and additives contained in cargo hold washwater, cleaning agents and additives in deck and external surfaces washwater can be disposed of in specific parts of the sea.

Garbage Storage

To ensure that the garbage is stored properly, while keeping the space needed to a minimum, the correct way of disposal is essential. Milk packages have to be opened until they’re flat; garbage like plastic packages needs to be compacted, and tins are getting crushed. From a total of 15 bags, we achieved to store the same quantity of garbage into 10 bags, only because of the correct way of storing it (even though we had to open every single bag and deep dive our hands in it).

Hygiene on Board

For dealing with the bags, a certain amount of hygiene should be offered. Food waste is only allowed in the food waste bin, and every package and bottle has to be washed out, so that there are no leftovers in it. You can imagine that after two weeks on the Atlantic and with the bags being in the sun all day, food leftovers can easily turn into something that isn’t welcomed on board.

To maintain a high level of hygiene, eating in the lower accommodation is forbidden, despite the fact that we already have little pests on board (for example, the cockroaches in cabin 10). You see how important it is to keep everything clean? Not only do we do heads and showers every day, but we also sweep and mop the green mile and the galley, vacuum the mess room, and do point-of-contact cleaning. In addition to this, we clean the deck, the cabins, the saloon, the wheelhouse, and the coms room every Sunday during happy hour.

Not only are we trying to prevent parasites, but also keeping everyone healthy and stopping diseases from spreading. So please, dear parents, don’t believe your child when they say they can’t clean properly; they can or they have learned it until they’re back (same with the laundry).

P.S. von Marie

Hello, wir haben jetzt den 10. Tag der Atlantiküberquerung und wahrscheinlich sind es jetzt noch fünf weitere. Wale und Schildkröten sind oftmals das einzige Highlight des Tages, da jeder Tag den gleichen Ablauf hat und man allmählich das Zeitgefühl verliert. Ich glaube, alle freuen sich, bald mal wieder an Land zu kommen.

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