Monthly Archives: July 2009

Choose a Designated Clean Marina or Boat Yard

Where we spend our many marina and boat yard dollars can be a positive step toward saving our waterways. The maintenance, operation and storage of boats have the potential to pollute adjacent waters, impair air quality and lead to general environmental degradation. Contaminants include dust from hull maintenance operations, solvents from engine repair shops, petroleum from careless fueling practices, and heavy metals from antifouling paints. These pollutants may be deposited directly into waterways or carried in by storm water runoff. The answer is more environmentally sensitive marinas.

The National Coastal Management Program is a federal-state partnership dedicated to the comprehensive management of the nation’s coastal resources and, at the federal level, operates under the aegis of the NOAA’s Coastal Programs Division. Two of its major initiatives are the Designated or Certified Clean Marina and Clean Boat Yard programs which are interpreted and managed at the state level.

The program’s aim is to prevent (or at least reduce) pollution rather than to clean it up, and its linchpin is the “Clean Marina” designation which facilities can earn by meeting stringent criteria and adhering to procedures that protect the environment – the EPA has a checklist of 125 “pollution prevention actions.” When a marina decides to participate in the program, it is provided assistance in complying with environmental laws and also becomes eligible for financial aid in the form of Incentive Grants.

So far, there are only 130 Designated Clean Marinas and Boat Yards nationally with another 160 plus going through the process. Most fly a state C.C.M. flag and list their designation prominently in their promotional material.

Go Carbon Neutral

Boats use fuel – even sail boats – and that means pollution. So, consider going “Carbon Neutral.” The basic concept is that you calculate the amount of fuel your boat burns and figure out ways to contribute to the environment to compensate for that. For instance, one tank of fuel might equal “X” number of trees.

Several websites make the process easy. A tool helps you calculate the emissions (i.e. has one specifically for boats) and then you compensate for those emissions by making a contribution to a Carbon Offset Project that plants trees, uses renewable energy or captures methane.

Manage Your Gray Water

If there is sufficient holding tank capacity, plumb your gray water along with the black water. On the other hand, if a small tank means discharging the sink and shower outflow directly overboard, then it becomes critical to control everything used on the boat that might find its way down one of the drains. Begin with a comprehensive review of the onboard cleaning supplies and toiletries.

Interior Cleaning Supplies
Consider dispensing with toxic, commercial cleaning agents for the boat’s interior. Generally, the galley will yield sufficient “natural” cleaning supplies to keep the space below fresh and sparkling – and those enclosed spaces make aggressive cleaning agents feel even more powerful. Put together an interior cleaning kit with just baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice, salt, borax, vanilla, gentle dishwashing detergents, a commercial natural cleaner, a couple of spray bottles, and for those really tough jobs maybe a little Bon Ami.

1. Use a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water for the freezer and refrigerator and then put an opened box of baking soda inside each. To keep the freezer fresh, wipe it down with a little vanilla sprinkled on a cloth. A gentler 25/75 vinegar/water solution will shine up almost any galley surface. Don’t forget a final rinse with clear water.

2. Baking soda and water will clean just about everything else. To make a scouring powder add salt. For a stronger paste, just let it sit. Or for a foaming, stain remover, drizzle vinegar on top of the baking soda/water mixture.

3. If do-it-yourself isn’t your thing, then there are a plethora of natural, non-toxic cleaning agents available from reliable manufacturers like Seventh Generation, Method Home, Mrs. Meyers and make sure anything you buy is phosphate and chlorine free. A really good choice for always storage-challenged vessels is Shaklee’s Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate – just 16 oz. makes 48 gallons of a non-toxic, biodegradable works-for-everything agent. It also comes in impregnated biodegradable wipes.

4. Choose gentle dishwashing detergents that are also free of phosphates, chlorine, dyes and perfumes. Some use grapefruit or aloe extracts. (Sources include Bi-O-Kleen, Seventh Generation, Ecover or Life Tree).

5. The best scent is no scent – but that is hard to manage on a boat. So, look for natural deodorizers that use essential oils to put in the cabins and the heads. Natural air fresheners like Ecco Bella Botanicals’ Lavender Mist or Aura Cacia’s Ginger mint keep the below deck spaces smelling fresh. And Prelam™ Magic Odor Neutralizer is an interesting option for neutralizing head smells.

Personal Toiletries
If your shower sump is pumping overboard, reconsider what you are washing with. There are now many gentle, environmentally-friendly personal care products on the market. Aubry Organics has been making natural soaps, shampoos and conditioners for 40 years. The shelves at Whole Foods are also lined with similarly safe, plant based products that are as good for us as they are for the environment.