Irene is an historic sailing vessel built in 1907 which earned her keep moving cargo around the South West coasts of the UK.  She has had a fascinating history both as a cargo ship and a family home and has been in the same ownership for the last 50 years.  Nowadays, we have a passion for taking guests to the finest destinations, both in the UK and abroad, and for delivering an outstanding quality of hospitality for guests staying on board.

However, our primary aim is not to deliver commercial success for Irene's owners or fabulous holidays to our guests.  Instead it is to ensure the survival of this historic vessel.  Not only does this require us to keep the ship in a safe and seaworthy condition but also to support the skilled trades people who maintain them, develop the next generation of ship’s crew who sail them and protect the environments in which they sail.

This policy outlines our approach to meeting our primary aim.  It is applicable to all staff, crew, contractors, suppliers and guests.

Sustaining the Environment


The marine wildlife is one of the major attractions to guests on board Irene and we are committed to its on-going conservation.  Our policies relating to this are:

  • We will educate guests on the wildlife indigenous to the areas in which we sail, through our voyage documents. This will highlight the flora and fauna in the area and any local conservation issues that guests should be aware of.
  • The crew will be briefed on the indigenous wildlife for all voyages and they will be expected to be able to speak knowledgably about it to guests.
  • We will respect the wildlife when sailing to ensure we do not create any adverse impact on them.


We will protect the marine environment in which we sail and go beyond legislative requirements to ensure we minimise our impact on it.  Specifically:

  • We will follow all the refuse management requirements of the MARPOL regulations and extend this to ban the disposal of any refuse over board regardless of our distance from shore.
  • We will record all waste generated on board and set targets for its reduction. This will be achieved through:
    • Prioritising local markets which use less packaging materials for food provisioning;
    • Designing in refrigeration and storage solutions which allow larger volume containers and reduce packaging;
    • Actively monitoring oil and fuel usage to ensure engines and generators are delivering optimum performance and minimising waste. Mechanical issues will be addressed as soon as possible to ensure this is maintained.
    • Display our waste performance to educate guests and encourage them to follow our lead.
  • We will follow all regulations relating to the use of paints, chemicals and treatments on board the ship and extend this to ban the use of any eroding antifoul treatments to the ship’s hull which can be damaging to marine wildlife.


We recognise that water is a precious resource in some of the voyage areas we visit and we will actively promote water conservation with our crew and guests.  For voyages in dry climates, we will limit our total water usage to 2 tonnes per week, with any additional water requirement to be met through desalinating sea water on board.  This is limited to 400 litres per day.


Sailing by its nature, primarily uses renewable sources of energy for propulsion.  However, we still rely on carbon fuels for electricity generation, propulsion for the tender and for manoeuvring the ship in harbours.  We will further reduce our carbon impact through our ‘zero carbon’ days.  As well as reducing our carbon footprint, these will highlight to guests how reliant we are on these fuels and educate them on how we can minimise our usage.

Where regulation and safe operation allows, we will allocate one day per week as a ‘zero carbon’ day.  On this day, we will:

  • Only manoeuvre the ship under sail;
  • Only propel the tender by oar;
  • Only use electricity from the batteries and not from the generator;
  • Cook using renewable sources of fuel such as BBQs and open fires.

Furthermore, we will ensure our back office functions are equally energy focused.  To minimise our energy consumption for the administrative team, our policies will require:

  • Staff to predominantly work from home to minimise the energy required in commuting to a place of work;
  • Prioritise electronic means of communication to reduce paper consumption;
  • Ensure all voyage information, booking administration and payment handling can be undertaken electronically to reduce paper consumption and energy requirements from traditional mail services;
  • Recycling of toner cartridges and the use of recycled paper wherever possible;
  • Use video conferencing and telephone conferencing facilities to reduce travel requirements.

Sustaining the Community

The community to which Irene owes her existence and her future need to be sustained.  We have a responsibility to both the communities in which Irene sails and the wider community who have an interest in historic vessels.

Local Communities:

We take our responsibilities to the local community in which Irene sails, seriously.  We believe we should contribute to the local economy, provide employment for local people and make Irene available for local communities to learn about our maritime heritage.  Our policies with respect to this are as follows:
·         Where possible, we will source provisions and materials from local suppliers and prioritise small producers such as farm shops, markets and independent wholesalers where appropriate.

·         Where we have maintenance requirements, we will use local tradespeople with traditional skills to service them.

·         We will attend at least one maritime festival every year that allows the local community to get on board for free and learn about the history of Irene and maritime heritage more generally, from the crew.

·         We will source products from local craftspeople to sell as part of our merchandise range on board.

·         We will work with local agents and experts to promote cultural attractions and local industries to guests in the voyage areas we visit.  Voyage documents will highlight key events and attractions that are available and the crew will be knowledgeable about these and actively promote them.

·         We will respect other users of the port facilities we visit and ensure we do not compromise their activities by our presence.

Charitable Works:

We believe we should support charitable organisations where there is a direct relevance to the marine industry or local communities and have selected the RNLI as our major focus for this.  As well as promoting their work to our wider community through social media and our website, we will dedicate a number of days each year in our programme to training the local RNLI crews in our voyage areas.  This will include casualty evacuation drills, helicopter transfer drills, towing drills and search and rescue drills.
Furthermore, we will actively support and encourage our crew to become volunteer RNLI crew members.

Developing Skills and Crafts

Creating a sustainable future for traditional and historic ships requires an infrastructure of people with the skills to sail and maintain these vessels.  We believe we should go further than just using these skilled people when we need them and actively support their training and development.  To this end we will:
·         Ensure that Irene is rigged and equipped in as traditional manner as possible to ensure we continue to create a demand for the skills and materials to maintain her.

·         Utilise local tradespeople and suppliers where maintenance requirements demand them.

·         Train and develop the crew to be competent sailors of traditionally rigged vessels and support them in attaining their required qualifications with financial and educational help.

·         Have career succession and development plans for all members of the crew to support them in developing their career and prioritise internal promotion when vacancies arise.

·         Provide at least one training position at all times on board Irene which will not require previous sailing experience to be considered for.

Encouraging Our Guests

Alongside our Responsible Travel Policy, we also like to provide guidance to our guests on how you can make your own contribution as a 'responsible traveller'.  For each of the regions we visit, we provide a suggested code of conduct for guests.  Adherence to this is entirely voluntary but we hope that by making small changes in the way you travel, large changes can be made in the impact you have.  We hope you feel these suggestions would not detract from your holiday with us and that you are able to bear them in mind during your time with us.

We love receiving feedback on this so if there's anything you feel we can do better or suggestions for other ways in which we can promote responsible travel, we'd love to hear from you.

The relevant document to your voyage will be sent out as part of your welcome pack.