How Can I Make My Boat More Environmentally Friendly?
It’s on all of us to do our part to keep the waters we treasure healthy, but it’s on Boatsetter to help its Owners and Renters help propel the Clean Boating Act onward. We make sure to provide our community with everything from insights to volunteer opportunities to become environmentally conscious boaters. That said, here are seven steps we came up with that’ll help make your boat more environmentally friendly:
- Take care when topping tanks
- Buy eco-friendly cleaning products
- Limit your washdowns
- Don’t dump black or grey water
- Recycle fluids
- Slow down
- Consider going electric
1. Take care when topping your tanks
You may have heard this tip a dozen times, if not more. It bears repeating because every year, fuel and oil enter waterways around the country continuing to cause damage. Even a small amount can harm fish, sea birds, and other wildlife.
If you visit a fuel dock and some fuel accidentally spills overboard, have absorbent pads on hand to clean it up quickly. If you use portable tanks, fill them onshore or at a fuel dock, where the stable ground will go a long way toward avoiding issues.
2. Buy eco-friendly cleaning products
Thankfully, many boat-cleaning products avoid bleach, phosphorous, and other harmful ingredients. Look for ones where the labels clearly state they’re non-toxic. Chemicals contribute to algal blooms, which lead to fish kills and difficulty breathing for humans.
3. Limit your washdowns
To make your boat more environmentally friendly, hose off the topsides when you return to the dock. You don’t need to scrub salt or other particles off. Similarly, you don’t need to clean the hull. If the hull starts looking slimy or needs attention, avoid cleaning it in the water if it has ablative paint.
The rubbing and scrubbing will release the paint and the biocides it contains. Also, low-pressure washing (using a pressure washer) can clean it. Better yet, have a marina or haul-out yard with dedicated concrete slabs for cleaning to do the work for you. They should also have filters for catching the water and allowing it to be reused.
4. Don’t dump black water or grey water
Blackwater (a.k.a. sewage) and grey water never go overboard. Dumping untreated sewage throughout the United States and even in Canadian waters is illegal. Instead, use a proper pump-out station at a marina. It doesn’t matter that your marine septic system may allow using disinfectants, either. Those products can contain harmful chemicals.
5. Recycle fluids
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to maintenance, congratulations! Just make sure the used oil goes into a drain pain. Take it to a marina that recycles fluids—a quick call to the main office will let you know. The same marina should take your used oil filters, too.
6. Slow down
One of the best and easiest ways to make your boat more environmentally friendly is to ease up on the throttles. Firstly, you’ll consume less fuel (and make your wallet happier). Secondly, wave action damages sensitive sea grasses, which protect shorelines against erosion. Seagrass further is a favorite food of manatees, turtles, tarpon, and other creatures. It also takes a long time to grow back if damaged or destroyed.
7. Consider going electric
More engine manufacturers and boat builders are offering all-electric or hybrid propulsion. Certainly, batteries contain acid and therefore aren’t “green.” However, current technology can help you reduce reliance on fossil fuels and eliminate emissions.
We all know about avoiding single-use plastics, keeping garbage contained, and practicing a host of other ecologically related measures. Still, there’s more we can do to ensure that our boats themselves are smarter stewards. Put these steps into practice to make your boat more environmentally friendly.
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A journalist with more than 30 years’ experience, Diane M. Byrne is the owner
of MegayachtNews.com, a daily website educating American superyacht owners, buyers, and
their circles of influence about the leading builders, designers, cruising destinations, and more.
She founded the website in 2007 as the first, and still the only, American-focused online media
outlet exclusively covering this market. It features all-original content, for real stories of real
Diane is additionally one of the most-sought-after journalists for expert editorial coverage and
commentary about not only superyachts, but also general boating and yachting. Her byline
appears in Boatsetter.com, DiscoverBoating.com, and the magazines Luxury Guide, Ocean,
Yachting, and Yachts International.
Additionally, Diane is the Chair of the U.S. Superyacht Association, having been on the Board of
Directors since 2015. Outside of yachting, she’s a trustee of Sempre Avanti, a non-profit
resource supporting Italian and Italian-American individuals, businesses, and organizations in the
United States and Italy.