Green Boating Tips

You can stay green on the blue water. Some minor choices can have a major impact

  • Contain your hydrocarbons. Fuel and oil leaking into the bilge will find their way to the sea (and may destroy your bilge pump. Reduce or eliminate engine leaks, use an absorbent pad to catch leaks, and dispose of it properly.  When fueling, watch levels carefully and keep a pad at the vent line “just in case.”
  • Keep Cleaners Clean. Biodegradable cleaners do just fine.  Do your research, though. Just because a cleanser may be biodegradable, it may still be quite toxic for humans. Vinegar, for example can do a great job on many things.  See California’s advice.
  • Keep it on board.  The old advice to throw cans and bottles overboard is no longer accepted. With thin coatings of plastic, even the aluminum takes forever to deteriorate. If you can carry it on the boat, you can carry it off.  A saltwater rinse can keep your trash locker smelling daisy-fresh.
  • Dishwashing.  Use Dawn or another biodegradable detergent. First wash in salt water, rinse in salt, final rinse in fresh. And do you even need to wash your coffee cup? Are you afraid of getting coffee in your coffee?
  • Head.  Be well offshore before dumping. Wipes and the like should be cotton or paper if you plan on tossing them.
  • In the Boatyard.  “Hard” bottom paints, rather than ablative, will shed less toxicity. Make sure your yard uses effective dust containment methods. While you are there, switch to an electric motor.
  • At the Grocery Store.  Where possible, choose packaging that includes less plastic and coated paper. These recycle poorly.
  • On the water. Don’t be a harasser.  Don’t “flush” a flock of birds. Don’t deliberately approach marine mammals. Not only is that a violation of federal law, if you get between a momma and her baby whale, she might sink you.
  • Anchor Wisely.  If you end up anchoring, look for that sandy or mud bottom.  Dropping the hook on a reef kills the delicate critters that make up the reef. Moreover, it just might snag your anchor and not give it back.
  • Energy.  Look into wind, solar, and even hydro power for your boat. It’s quiet and clean, and will work even if your engine or genset decides not to.  Check into biodiesel as well, but be sure your seals can handle it if your boat is on the older side.
  • Sunscreen.  Some chemicals kill reefs. Use titanium and zinc dioxide and avoid “nanoparticles.”
  • Personal Choices.  Many of the items on this list, as well as your vacation choices, may call for a tradeoff among cost, convenience, effectiveness, and impact. Please consider these in making your choices for your voyages

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