In many ways, it seems as if spending time on a boat is one of the most eco-friendly things you can do. Sailing a boat on the open water, catching fish using only a fishing line, or exploring hidden coves and islands are all great ways of connecting with nature while maintaining a conscious level of respect and harmony.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Many of the best aspects of boating can also be the most harmful to the environment if proper care is not taken. Improperly maintained engines, hazardous chemicals, and uncollected monofilament lines can all do severe damage to the environment and water that boaters rely on for pleasure and recreation, and, in some cases, livelihoods.
If you’d love to combine your love of boating with proper environmental stewardship of the waters that you enjoy, consider some of these green tips to make your boat and your boating experience more eco-friendly.
1. Get the Right Boat Engine
It’s important to have the right size engine for your boat. If your boat’s engine requires full throttle at all times to achieve the desired speed, chances are that it is too small. This means that the emissions and the level of fuel consumption are higher than normal, and this is a situation that needs to be addressed.
One of the best things about boat engines is the fact that, unlike car engines, they are not in constant use. Unless your boat is traveling long distances under power, chances are the boat is only using its engine for short periods of time. In the case of sailboats, when the engine is typically only used in the absence of wind or on the short journey to open water, the environmentally-conscious factor is that much greater.
2. Choose the Right Kind of Paint
Occasionally repainting your boat is absolutely necessary to protect the hull from the harsh salt water of the ocean and other natural elements. However, the strength and hardiness required in these products often means the use of harsh and hazardous chemicals, which can be toxic to the environment.
One of the most hazardous issues related to boat paint was the antifouling paint that was widely used in the 1980s and 1990s. Relying on a poison to kill barnacles and other creatures that attached to hulls, this paint inadvertently poisoned many other types of sea creatures in the process. Newer antifouling paints rely on a natural substance that only harms the barnacle when it burrows into the paint, thus sparing the rest of the diverse aquatic life.
When it comes time to repaint your boat, be sure to inquire about the many eco-friendly products that are now available. Your local marina or boat dealer would be an excellent place to get more information.
3. Properly Dispose of your Old Boat
When it comes time for you and your family to choose a new boat, there may be some questions about what to do with your old one. If you’re concerned that it’s not a good candidate for resale, you do have a few options.
One of the best, and most green, ways to accomplish this is by donating your old boat to charity. Not only does this choice prevent your boat from being scrapped and transported to a landfill, but you can rest assured that your boat will refurbished and sold with the proceeds benefitting a worthy charity. You can also receive a deduction on your income taxes.
If you do scrap it or sell it for parts, be certain to take proper care when disposing of engine fluids and components. Used oil, batteries, and other chemicals deemed hazardous can be recycled or contained at various facilities. Check at your local marina for more information.
4. Clean Green
Boats require a great deal of upkeep and maintenance, and one of the most time-consuming of these is the cleaning process. Since it’s inevitable that some of the solutions used to clean boats winds up in the water, it’s wise to choose your boat cleaner very carefully.
When you’re searching for a safer and greener cleaning compound for your boat, look for one that is labeled non-toxic and is water-based. These will be much less harmful in the water than their antiquated counterparts. Also consider doing the bulk of your cleaning while your boat is on land. Just be sure to cover the ground with a tarp to prevent any spills from seeping into the ground.
Having a boat is a big responsibility and caring for that boat in an environmentally-sound way is just a part of that overall responsibility. Consider some of these tips when you decide to take your boat to the next, green level.