Boat owners who do their own maintenance and repair work must be aware of the environmental consequences, and must learn the basic steps they can take to protect the environment, remembering that they themselves are part of what they will be protecting. If they prefer to use professional maintenance, they should apply the same basic principles to the yard that is doing the work.
10 Ways to More Environmentally Friendly Boat Maintenance
Boaters enjoy the best of our waterways – the peace of being on the water, the ability to interact with nature, and the beauty of the open spaces. Whether you are in a personal watercraft, a row boat, or a large motorboat, each of us has a vested interest in the health of these waterways and natural resources. It’s this vested interest that drives many boaters and marina operators to ask what they can do to help the environment. The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water works to help these groups understand specific actions they can take to protect the environment while having a great time on the water. Here are some ideas:
For more ideas, click here to view a copy of the BoatU.S. Foundation’s “Clean Routine” brochure.
- Reuse and recycle. Recycle spent antifreeze, fuel, oil, oil filters, and batteries. Use less toxic propylene
glycol antifreeze whenever possible, but check before mixing it with other antifreeze for recycling.
- Put a sturdy trash container on your boat. If it’s in an open area, make sure it has a locking lid to prevent light items from blowing away.
- Tune up your engine. A tuned engine improves fuel economy and burns fuel more efficiently, causing fewer emissions from entering the air and water.
- Clean your bottom. Keeping your hull clean and free of barnacles, grass and other marine growth will help reduce fuel consumption, and help increase your boats' performance. Use a hard (not ablative) anti-fouling paint if you plan on scrubbing the boat bottom while in the water.
- Recycle at your marina. If you do not currently have recycling at your marina, let the manager know that you and other boaters would support the separate collection of recyclables, particularly aluminum cans.
- Fix your prop. Damaged props greatly reduce the efficiency of your engine. Having a prop that is clean and in good condition will increase your performance, and help reduce fuel consumption.
- Clean your bilge. Having a clean bilge will help you spot fuel/oil leaks, and help you avoid discharging petroleum into the water. A clean bilge is also much easier on your nose!
- Wash your boat often. Try to wash your deck off regularly with fresh water and a scrub brush to reduce the amount of strong chemical cleaners needed throughout the boating season. If your boat is hauled for the winter, use that time to do any significant cleaning or repairs, to reduce the potential for pollutants to enter the water.
- Refuel carefully. Do not top off fuel tanks, because it usually leads to spillage. Check out the BoatU.S. Foundation’s “Help Stop the Drops” information to learn more at http://www.boatus.com/foundation/cleanwater/drops/.
- Clean naturally. By using natural cleaners such as vinegar and baking soda, or biodegradable cleaners and detergents, you will help reduce the amount of solvents and chemicals going into the water.
You may also download this file or order copies of the brochure for distribution to other club members or friends.