to provide our guests with a great sustainable holiday;
during which they can explore the natural world around our shores with the minimum intervention, disruption and pollution,
and they can learn from heritage and the cultures we experience,
in a way that supports the social and economic wellbeing of the communities we visit,
using only a fair share of the world's carbon budget,
and hopefully in the process of helping them learn something about themselves and their path to happiness.
This responsible travel policy (RTP) sets out some of the specific ways in which Snark Limited’s business practices have developed to support our philosophy and mission and what further steps we are pursuing to improve our performance and increase our positive impacts. It seeks to advise those we are involved with, directly and indirectly, of our commitment to these standards and what we in turn expect from them.
In the policy we have differentiated between individual and corporate responsibility. The former lies with the individuals within our team, our passengers and our associates. The latter with Snark Limited as an entity. We are however a very small entity, and the boundaries are perforce blurred.
This is the first iteration of the policy and will no doubt evolve and develop as we apply the thinking behind it to our ongoing operations.
Consultation & input
The RTP has been prepared with the input and/or having regard to the guidance and policies of;
the team at Snark Limited
local community action groups
various UK harbours environmental guidelines
RYA Green Blue Initiative
The responsibility for protecting our culture, society and the environment lies with the individual and we cannot rely on ‘others’ to sort this out for us. Without actively engaging we cannot make any beneficial changes however small.
we can choose through our work and leisure activities to ‘tread lightly’ on the earth
as humans, we can respect and protect the environment of other species with whom we share this earth and who’s wellbeing we can affect so negatively.
we can advocate for positive change in the behaviour of individuals, governments and corporations through our daily interactions and in the media.
as voters in a democracy, we should use our power to ensure we are represented by those who share our views and to hold our representatives to account,
as consumers, we have the power to support and encourage companies who take a responsible approach to social and environmental issues, while eschewing those that don’t.
as individuals, we can lead by example and demonstrate the benefits of beneficial ways of doing things,
were we believe change needs a nudge we can agitate, maybe just a regular e-mail reminder to our MP that things are not as they could be, some modest act of civil disobedience or if we believe passionately enough maybe a significant newsworthy act.
We encourage our passengers to consider these opportunities to make an impact through our web site, blogs and other social media postings. We welcome discussion and debate amongst our passengers on all matters but always with a context of respect and courtesy.
Passengers are encouraged to return a post event questionnaire to us. This asks their opinions on the experience they had, the quality of the accommodation and the hospitality, how we are doing against our environmental and social goals and any complaints or suggestions they think would improve our offer or in relation to this policy.
At present Snark operates solely within the United Kingdom. The social and political situation of which is well reported and debated in the mainstream and social media. We are based in Dartmouth, South Devon. Although superficially a wealthy place its veneer of affluence hides a significant level of deprivation, mental health issues and social injustice.
Mental illness and suicide have been a particular problem over recent years as traditional marine and agricultural industries have declined and evolved. We support local initiatives that provide an informed listening ear with whom those effected can share their anxieties.
Snark Limited does not generally give money to specific charities from company revenue, preferring direct involvement. The exception to this is the RNLI which although a charity is our and our passengers’ de facto emergency service.
We actively engage with the local commercial sector through the DHNA commercial users group, a consultee of the Dart Harbour authority.
We are establishing an independent charterers group on the Dart to provide a platform for advocacy, knowledge sharing and marketing initiatives. The putative membership ranges from SUP and kayak hire company through fishing trip operators to traditional vessel operators such as ourselves. The first initiative the group undertook was lobbying local councillors to ensure that river-based businesses benefitted from discretionary Covid support grants from the local authority. This proved a lifeline to a number of locally run businesses. We hope to progress the development of the association later in 2022.
Snark provided a discounted place on its cruises for a trainee crew member to gain hands-on experience of boat operation. Discussions to provide more structured training placements for the newly established marine service course at the South Devon Community College are ongoing.
Procurement & provisioning
We prioritise local businesses, local growers, fishermen, materials suppliers, and makers in our procurement policy. Our base is at a yard run by local boatbuilders who also provide technical services for our operation. Our primary food suppliers are the locally based Riverford and a local fish merchant supplying locally caught ‘wild’ fish.
When we are cruising, we endeavour to source directly from local growers and suppliers or where this is not practical from independent shops in preference to national supermarket chains. By doing this we help maintain the viability and diversity of the small coastal communities we operate from and visit. This also contributes to local employment and the stability of these waning communities.
We seek to do business with other organisations that share our ethics and change these were we perceive a significant divergence.
We live on the water and in close contact with nature. From the way the weather and temperatures are changing, we believe we can feel the beginnings of the predicted climatic disruption. Because of this we are deeply committed to radically changing both our and others' behaviour to help mitigate against the impending environmental catastrophe.
We are bound by the international conventions on the prevention of pollution at sea. This means we have systems in place to avoid the discharge of spilt or waste oils into the sea. We can control the location where human soil is discharged and if necessary, arrange for the wastewater storage tanks to be pumped out for treatment ashore.
We strive to purchase from suppliers who limit or recycle their packaging and who use recycled and recyclable packaging materials. Where this is impractical, we seek to ensure that our waste is recycled either by separating it at source or ensuring there is post-collection sorting. We are particularly conscious of the problems of oceanic plastic pollution and do not dispose of any non-biodegradable waste overboard and endeavour to avoid single-use plastics wherever practical.
Snark is well insulated to ensure we can maintain comfort below without excessive energy use. However, we are limited in fuel choices and so use smokeless fuel and recovered wood fuel for heating in the winter. Hot water is generated from the stove's back boiler or from the combined heat and power unit which runs on diesel. Our next step is to improve our shore-based power supply to allow us to source from renewable suppliers and to operate water source heat pumps for heating.
The boat has a heat reclaim system on its permanent ventilation system to limit heat waste while controlling humidity and so limiting condensation.
We continue to monitor the development of PV power sources for viability and suitability for use onboard.
Ironically the management of water use is particularly important aboard a ship. We recycle water for use in the toilets (it might sometimes be a bit grey, literally). We also collect rainwater for the same purpose. We urge our guests to use as little water as practical both to extend our off-grid time and limit processed water use generally.
Our engines and generator are diesel powered and can be heard outside the vessel. We try to limit their use to waking hours and control the revs to avoid unnecessary noise pollution. We do not have installed loudspeakers and discourage the playing of recorded or amplified music above or below deck.
Many of the locations we sail and moor in are special because of their remoteness and isolation. The resulting dark skies make star gazing particularly good. We do not use floodlighting and other intrusive above deck lighting. We do have deck lights so people can move around the decks and board and disembark safely in the dark.
Snark is a sailing vessel with auxiliary engines. We use these as little as possible preferring to use the free and environmentally friendly wind. However, for safety and passenger convenience it is necessary to use the engines in port and when there is no wind! The engines and propellers are high-efficiency modern units which comply with current EU emissions and efficiency regulations.
We try to maintain an environmentally driven dietary plan and generally only prepare vegetarian and pescatarian food. We use locally sourced, seasonal, organic produce as much as practical as well as locally caught fresh fish.
We encourage our guests to travel to and from Snark by public transport if possible and to contact us for suggestions on the best and most interesting options. We can also facilitate car shares where that is appropriate. We do not believe carbon offset is a long-term solution for climate change mitigation and so do not offer an offset scheme with our bookings.
The natural world
Although significantly degraded by human activity the waters around the UK are home to an astonishing diversity of wildlife. The marine eco system is fragile and it is easy for us to damage it. We enjoy the wild life we encounter on our travels, but we do not set out to pursue it. We engage and inform our customers of its significance and how they can protect and help restore it.
In particular we follow the Green Blue guidelines of the RYA and local guidelines published by local harbour authorities and action groups.
It is common for heritage to be celebrated for its positive manifestations; the grandeur of a stately home, the beauty of a traditional sailing ship, the romance of a ruined castle. More difficult to process is the negative side of the asset; the source of the funding from slavery or child labour, the miserable working conditions and poor health and safety of the sailors, the oppression of native populations and the horrors of war that are inherent in military installation.
By building and operating a replica historical vessel, we are already directly contributing to the maritime heritage of the country. Our presence in harbours and along the coast inevitably attracts attention and discourse and provides a positive contribution to the local tourist offer. We inform our passengers and those we casually meet in the harbour about the significance of the vessel and how it fits into the history of maritime transport. But also how the life as a bargee impacted on the crew and their families.
Our cruises are generally an end in themselves rather than a means of travelling to visit various pre-determined destinations. However, we do try to plan our itinerary to take in as many places and events of interest as possible.
We encourage our passengers to engage with the local cultures in the communities we visit. This might be musical or ceremonial, an art installation or gallery, a culinary speciality or traditional craft. In some cases, it could be a specific event such as supporting or participating in a historic Barge Match on the Thames or a Parade of Sail in Falmouth.
Actions for 2023
Policies are of little use if they sit on the shelf. They need to be integrated into the daily activity of our business and their effectiveness needs to be evaluated against appropriate benchmarks. These need to be progressive allowing continuous evolution and development. All of which needs to be achievable and viable.
In this first iteration of the RTP we have identified only a few areas for development. We are mindful that our first responsibility is to maintain our financial viability in the face of the prevailing economic challenges. As the business develops, we will implement a more structured development strategy.
Install on board sewage treatment plant to
Move banking to an ethical provider.
Install water to water heat pump.
Review and develop solar/wind onboard generation.