The ocean plays a major role in all our lives. It provides at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen, it is home to most of earth’s biodiversity, and if you’re reading this, it is probably where you spend most of your weekends. What we do impacts the waters we love, and there are plenty of ways to keep our “wakeprints” invisible while out on the water.
Fortunately, sustainable boating practices are easy to learn and can sometimes save you money! To get started, here is a list of green boating tips you can start implementing today.
Keep your boat well maintained to ensure that you aren’t unwittingly allowing oil, fuel, battery acid, coolant or any other fluids to leak into the water around you. You can bring your boat to our Service Department at WNC Marine Sales Inc for regular maintenance or if you suspect that leaks are caused by a bigger problem than you can’t address at home.
If you are a do-it-yourselfer performing your own maintenance, make sure to:
- Use an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill proof container
- Take the used engine oil to a recycling facility
- Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the old oil filter to prevent oil from spilling.
Filling up your fuel tank is one of the most common ways that you can unintentionally pollute waterways. Take care to catch any drips or spills, and do not “top off” or overfill your fuel tank. Fuel expands as it warms, so leave some space in your tank. If you do spill fuel or oil, notify your marina immediately.
Make a plan to manage your trash and hazardous waste properly. Keep any trash contained onboard until you can dispose of it on land, and research if your marina or any nearby harbors have pump-out stations for your sewage waste.
Get in the habit of rinsing your boat thoroughly after each trip to reduce the build up of algae, barnacles and salt — this will also reduce the need to use chemicals to cut through the debris. Cleaning products for your boat are likely to contain ammonia, phosphates and chlorine (to name a few). These harsh chemicals seep into the water, polluting it and harming ocean life. Vinegar, baking soda and borax are excellent, more eco-friendly substitutes.
Use non-biocide paints for your boat’s hull. Many boats use copper-based bottom paints, which are great for preventing growth, but can harm the aquatic wildlife. There are eco-friendly alternatives that are not only kinder to the environment, they last longer which saves you money. Look into paints that are non-biocides, meaning they are formulated with silicon compounds.
Even the sunscreen you choose to wear has an impact on the environment! When purchasing sunscreen, avoid products that contain oxybenzone, and look for ones that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. They are not only better for the environment, they are also less toxic for your health.
Run your boat at its most efficient cruising speed to save gas and reduce your carbon footprint. Blasting through the bay at top speed may be fun, but save the high speed antics for rare occasions!
Wake Responsibly by minimizing repetitive passes, keeping music at a responsible level, and staying 200 feet from shore.
Be kind to the bottom by following proper anchoring techniques. In some areas (such as on Florida’s coral reefs) it is illegal to anchor because of the damage it can do to the corals. But anchoring isn’t the only issue. Boats can rip “prop scars” in shallow weed beds, churn muddy bottoms and cause cloudy water, and disturb shellfish beds.
When boating near marine wildlife, ensure that you have a memorable experience without disturbing marine wildlife by following a few simple guidelines:
- Remain at least 100 yards (300 feet) away from all marine wildlife.
- Limit your viewing time to no more than 30 minutes.
- If a marine mammal approaches you, reduce speed and put your engine into neutral. Do not re-engage until the animal has vacated the vicinity.
These are just a few tips to improve your sustainable boating practices. Have you already implemented some of these practices? Did you learn something new? Leave us a comment we’d love to hear from you!