Living a hippy-inspired, bohemian lifestyle on the island of Ibiza; Alistair proves that you don’t need to be a city slicker to have entrepreneurial flair. He now spends his summers sailing on the crystal waters of Formentera (a little island off Ibiza) and during the winter he escapes to exotic summery havens around the world. Jealous yet? We are.
He and his business partner Maarten Bernhart run La Bella Verde, an eco-friendly charter company. They have two catamarans under their belts that run on electric energy which is harnessed from the sun. The engines are remarkably silent and emission free. Did we mention that these cats are absolutely stunning?
‘We wanted to bring real change to the future with alternative & emission free solutions on the water.’
How did the idea for La Bella Verde come about?
Two years ago I landed a job working on a sailboat by the name of Life of Riley, with my now business partner Maarten. During that first summer whilst sailing the beautiful, clear waters, we were continually having to fix our smelly gasoline engines. The fumes would then lie over the pristine water and get swept up by the wind only to be blown straight into our clients’ faces. Feeling bad for them, the fish and mostly the environment, we asked ourselves; we are in the 21st century so why are we still using such primitive technology?
That’s when we made the decision that it would be up to us to make a conscious move and lead by demonstration. We wanted to bring real change to the future with alternative and emission-free solutions on the water.
‘We had our very own boat & we were our own boss, it felt amazing.’
La Balle Verde - Eco Sail Ibiza
⚓ SPRING COMPETITION ⚓࿇࿇࿇WIN AN UNFORGETTABLE DAY OUT FOR YOU AND 9 FRIENDS THIS SUMMER IN IBIZA ON OUR ECO CATAMARANS࿇࿇࿇To celebrate the start of a new season we are giving away an all inclusive €1000 trip to the lucky winners!*•* HOW TO ENTER *•*Simple steps~ Like our page.~ Tag the 9 friends you want to bring along for the sail~ Private message us your e mail~ Share this original post & video.(Cheeky tip: the more of your friends that do the same and tag you, the more likely you are going to be a winner)See, Easy - Get sharing SAILORS(Competition closes April 15th, winners picked at random will be advised via e mail. By entering Comp and sending your e mail you are happy to receive our newsletter)Posted by La Bella Verde on Wednesday, 23 March 2016
La bella Verde
What was the process like from when you came up with the idea to actually getting the ball rolling?
After we came up with idea we swung straight into researching mode as there was so much to look into and we were quite new to it all. It took that and many a discussion over some nice vino to catapult us into action.
In the beginning it was quite frustrating as we needed the investment capital to get things moving but we didn’t seem to find any support or encouragement. The boat owner (and many others) didn’t believe in the project and thought it would be a big waste of time and money. But we had done the calculations and necessary research to know it would work, so we still felt confident.
It was then that our good friend Charlie Tavener heard about our new venture and felt very inspired. He has a masters in Marine Biology, so this eco project was close to his heart. He bought our first catamaran and took a chance on us and our dreams! So we had our very own boat and we were our own boss, it felt amazing.
What was it like getting the boat ready?
Well at first we were two young guys with a lot of enthusiasm for the project but no real experience. We were just two sailors, not boat builders. The boat yard was where we met Leo Franco, a master craftsman, avid boat lover and now a good friend. After observing us and realising we didn’t really know what the hell was going on, he instructed us to put down our tools immediately and join him for a beer and get a decent plan together. With Leo’s careful guidance we did exactly that and it was full steam ahead working from dawn to dusk!
What was the hardest part about the whole process?
Before we designed the solar bridge, we were adamant about using renewable power. So throughout the entire summer season we had the job of transporting 264kg of batteries from land to boat and back, to charge a fixed solar system. The weather conditions were sometimes not ideal with hectic waves and winds to test us. It would have been too easy to do things the conventional way but we were passionate about using solar energy so we persevered. Only Maarten and I know how crazy those times were, but we were determined to prove that powering electric motors with renewable energy was possible!
What skills did you need to learn?
Our focus was marine electronics. That, along with how to work with many different materials including fibreglass which is nasty stuff! For our next boat, we will be using hemp fibre which is even more green! Hemp has enormous environmental, economic, and commercial potential, it’s definitely the way forward.
‘There was an unbelievable sense of achievement & a very polite ‘up yours’ to every person that told us it wasn’t possible.’
What did you wish you knew before you started?
That when purchasing materials or having things made, never mention the ‘b’ word, because as soon as you say it’s for a boat, you’ll find the price will automatically double!
There was an unbelievable sense of achievement and a very polite ‘up yours’ to every person that told us it wasn’t possible.
Favourite adventure on the boat?
Sailing on a night voyage to Formentera whilst there was a meteor shower. We were surrounded by shooting stars all around us and catching the reflections of them falling in the sea. This was followed by a beautiful sunrise as we sailed back towards Ibiza. I will never forget that night!
Best part of your job?
(Laughs) well that’s a hard one considering we have so much fun in the sun! It’s always such a pleasure to be continuously meeting great people each day. And I love being able to take them to paradise on their holidays.
But also for me it’s the excitement we share to be evolving, and working towards becoming more eco advanced with our boats.
What do you do on your days off?
Sail! We love to sail! Days off we enjoy time out on the water with our buddies.
What do you offer to anyone wanting to sail on your boats for the day?
What we offer is an eight hour voyage that starts with the delicious hydration of fresh young coconuts. Weather depending, we usually choose the more relaxed side of Formentera, stopping off for a snorkel and swims accompanied by fresh fruit around the some smaller islands which are en route to our destination. We have our favourite spots to take the clients and will always choose to aim for more secluded locations, but we like to create the journey for each individual group on the day.
From keeping things chilled and focusing on just a couple of beaches to relax, to venturing further to explore more hidden coves & caves, it’s always lots of fun.
We offer a delicious lunch for clients that prefer to have a picnic or we can organise a reservation at one of Formentera’s finest seafood restaurants with views looking back towards Ibiza. And no matter what, we love to end the day with a beautiful sunset sail on return to complete the magic. That is the moment we’ve had people say that that was just the best day of their life! Very touching and such complete satisfaction for us, as that is exactly what we always set out to achieve.
‘The satisfaction you get from accomplishing something close to your heart is unparalleled. And when you finally make it; the view from the top will be absolutely unreal.’
What advice would you give to someone who has an idea but is unsure how to make it happen?
If you have the idea already, then you should trust that you are already half way there. The other half is hard work and an uphill climb, but you have to harness your energy from your belief in yourself. The satisfaction you get from accomplishing something close to your heart is unparalleled. And when you finally make it, the view from the top will be absolutely unreal.