Record breaking sailor Dee Caffari encourages families to ditch the plastic

Dee Caffari onboard Turn the Tide on Plactic Credit: Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18
Dee Caffari onboard Turn the Tide on Plactic Credit: Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18
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Dee Caffari is a world-record breaking sailor. In fact, it takes quite some time to list Dee’s achievements – they include many firsts. 

The 46-year-old, who lives in Titchfield with her partner Harry Spedding and their springer spaniel, Jack, has sailed around the world six times.

Plastic pollution is a major global problem. Picture: Getty Images

Plastic pollution is a major global problem. Picture: Getty Images

She is the first woman to have sailed single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and the only woman to have sailed non-stop around the world a total of three times.

In 2006 Dee became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world against the prevailing winds and currents and was awarded an MBE in recognition of her work.

And in 2017/18 Dee led Turn the Tide on Plastic – the first mixed gender youth team to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race, with a strong sustainability message. 

The ocean is in her blood.

Dee Caffari onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic Credit: Jen Edney Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

Dee Caffari onboard Turn the Tide on Plastic Credit: Jen Edney Volvo Ocean Race 2017/18

So Dee has seen first-hand the huge impact that plastics have on the planet. 

And as the summer holidays are in full swing, Dee sends a message to families to do their bit to limit the impact our actions have on the world’s oceans. 

‘I have just returned to the UK having competed in the Transpac Race, from Los Angeles to Hawaii.

‘After nine days, our team on board Oaxaca claimed first place in class.

Dee Cafffari CREDIT: Charlie Clift

Dee Cafffari CREDIT: Charlie Clift

‘Being the home of surfing, I did attempt to ride the waves at Waikiki.

‘It’s harder than it looks, so I don’t think I will be giving up the sailing day job just yet.

‘I am fortunate that my job takes me to some amazing places in the world, but it is always great to be back home for the summer.

‘The south coast is lucky to have so many wonderful beaches to enjoy and, now that the schools have broken up and the sun has come out, the area attracts visitors from all over the UK.

‘As an advocate for ocean health focusing on the avoidance of single use plastics, I am keen to keep our beaches and coastlines plastic free and a destination for people to enjoy for many years to come.

‘The south coast is also home to popular festivals and events.

‘Big events naturally attract large numbers of people and, as the audience, we are key influencers with a powerful voice to demand change.

‘This year, Glastonbury Festival banned the sale of disposable plastic water bottles onsite, setting a precedent for other large scale festivals and events.

‘All 61 members of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), including Southsea’s Victorious Festival, have signed up to eliminate plastic drink bottles, straws, food trays, cable ties, toiletry bottles and glitter from all sites by 2021.

‘For the vast majority of single use plastic, there are alternative products, the challenge is breaking existing habits.

‘So, let’s make this holiday season the summer of change.

‘My advice is to start with a simple change, something that you can incorporate easily into your daily routine.

‘Once you start, you will be surprised at how easy it is.

‘And you will also become much more aware of your own single use plastic usage and how to reduce or eliminate it. 

‘We only have one planet and right now it needs looking after.’

If you want to get more involved this summer, check out the local initiative, Final Straw.

For more information on the fight to secure plastic-free oceans, go to 

Right now, Dee is competing in the Rolex Fastnet Race which began in Cowes, on Saturday, and should end on Wednesday. 

To find out more about Dee’s incredible adventures across the oceans, visit

Here’s what you can do: 

1. Take stock of how much plastic you encounter or use daily and look at how you might achieve a reduction. As consumers, a reduction in use will automatically contribute towards a reduction in demand.

The less we demand it, the more it will cease being economically viable to produce.

2. Avoid pre-packaged goods in supermarkets. Buy loose fruit and vegetables and take your own bag. Ask for your items NOT to be wrapped or bagged in plastic.

3. Use a refillable drink bottle and reusable cups for drinks.

4. Buy cotton buds with card based stems, not plastic – these are one of the main single use plastics found on beaches.

5. Avoid disposable cutlery and plastic straws. Select alternative products that can be recycled.

6. Spread the word and for every change you make  encourage others to do the same.

7. Ditch the sandwich bags or ‘food to go’ for lunch. Reusable containers work, even yogurt can be decanted from a large pot into small reusable pots each day to avoid multi-packs.

8. Instead of using cling film try beeswax wraps.

9. Invest in bags for life.

10. Have a plastic free week. It takes preparation but it’s worth it.