Monthly Archives: June 2009

Use Environmentally-Friendly Boat Maintenance Practices

An outgrowth of the Clean Marina program has been the National Clean Boaters Campaign. Founded by the Marine Environmental Education Foundation, it has been getting traction in Florida with 3,500 participants, but seems to be stalled on its trek northward. California also has an active Dockwalkers Program that spins off from the same parent. They all focus on a similar set of best boating practices.

1. Minimize oil discharge from the bilge. Tuck absorbent pads under the engine to catch drips and place a few strategically in the bilge.

2. Take care during oil changes and fueling. Keep absorbent pads handy when fueling and moving oil filters, don’t overfill the fuel tank, and have spill-containment supplies on board in a convenient spot.

3. Keep spring and fall boat maintenance projects away from the water, and, if you can’t, then take a long hard look at your bucket full of supplies, read the labels and decide if you can, in good conscience, use them.

4. Use non-toxic, ecologically safe cleaning products. Some of the same principles applied to the interior of the boat can work when cleaning the outside. But if you want to use commercial products, read the labels carefully (West Marine has a line of generally non-toxic, bio-degradable cleaners). “Biodegradable” is not enough – be sure that the product is also non-toxic and phosphate-free. Check out automotive cleaners, as well. Surprisingly, that industry has made some interesting strides in developing environmentally-safer products (PuraClean, for example) that are often less expensive then ones labeled “marine.”

5. Rethink how you select, use and treat anti-fouling bottom paint. Choose non-toxic bottom paint and use minimal abrasion when cleaning the hull to reduce the amount of extra paint that is sloughed off. E Paint EP2000, for instance, offers a slick racing finish with good anti-fouling properties. Successful, solo around-the-world sailor Bruce Schwab used it on his SV Ocean Planet.

6. Dispose of all wastes – hazardous and household – at designated shoreside recycling and trash centers