11 Clean and Green Boating Tips
In honor of Earth Day, the team at Rocket Marine is eager to share our 11 tips for how to be a clean and green boater. Soon after a boat passes, its wake disappears. However, as boaters, our impact can last longer than the extra waves our boat engine creates on the water. As lovers of the water, we are responsible for keeping our waterways as clean as possible and doing our part to protect the marine environments we love.
Let’s talk about the little, inexpensive, thoughtful ways that you can do your part to reduce your “wake-print” on the water.
1. Spill-Proof Your Oil Changes
Try to avoid spilling any oil when changing the oil on your boat. You can use an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill-proof container. Then wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to prevent oil from spilling.
2. Carefully Refuel
Always prevent fuel spills by filling your fuel tanks slowly. Use absorbent pads or rags to catch drips and spills. Never “top off” your fuel tank. It’s important to leave the tank 10% empty to allow fuel to expand as it warms. Overfilling will result in spills.
3. If A Spill Happens
If a spill happens, it’s tempting to grab a bottle of soap and attempt to disperse the oil or fuel with it. But before you dump Dawn on it, stop! Using dish soap on oil and fuels spills doesn’t only increase harm to the marine environment, it’s also illegal.
4. Try Not To Clean Your Boat In The Water
Try to save all your cleaning and maintenance projects for when your boat is out of the water. This helps prevent soap and other chemicals or debris from entering the water. In addition, it is easier to perform maintenance and give your boat that deep clean when your boat is out of the water.
In addition, when you wash your boat, a good rule of thumb is to wash the interior of your boat like you would wash your kitchen floor – grab a bucket and a sponge. Use a cleaner that doesn’t require a water rinse. Avoid products that contain phosphorus (especially if you decide to clean your boat while it’s in the water).
Sadly, no regulations exist for a “biodegradable” or “non-toxic” claim. However, products with the PA Design for the Environmental logo are usually a safe bet.
5. Bye-Bye, Toxic Bottom Paints
Reduce your environmental imprint by using a less toxic or non-toxic antifouling paint. Heavy metals often found in soft-sloughing antifouling paints can easily enter waterways and damage marine life. Instead, use non-abrasive underwater hull cleaning techniques to prevent excessive paint discharge during bottom boat painting. In addition, dry storing your boat for the off-season reduces your need for antifouling paint, saving you money on hull maintenance.
6. Be Seagrass Safe
If you boat in Southwest Florida or other areas where seagrass is present, be seagrass safe! Trim your motor up in shallow waters to prevent damaging our ecosystem. When propellers slash into seabeds, it damages water clarity and impacts Florida’s fish species. Around 70% of fish spend at least one part of their life cycle in this crucial ecosystem, so the population is heavily impacted when they don’t have a place to hide from larger predators or a place to start their nursery. This decrease in fish significantly affects commercial and recreational fishing and nature/wildlife tourism, one of the largest industries in the state.
Finally, seagrass scarring leaves the seagrass beds vulnerable to storms such as our seasonal hurricanes. So if you’re boating in shallow or skinny water, trim your motor up and do your part to keep our waterways healthy.
7. Rinse Off Your Boat
It’s essential to rinse off your boat after leaving the waterways. Rinsing off your boat will help reduce the spread of invasive aquatic species – a big problem for our waterways!
8. Never Abandon Your Boat
When your boat starts to leak or reaches the point of no return, it’s tempting to simply dump it illegally, allow it to sink, or leave it on someone else’s property. Unfortunately, it’s common for people to wait too long to do anything about their leaky boat and allow it to sink. However, this is the worst option you can take. The hazardous material and oils on the boat can seriously impact our ecosystem and become a dangerous waterway obstruction for other boaters.
If you notice your vessel is leaking and you don’t have the funds to repair it, please report these spills to the National Response Center (NRC) at 800-424-8802.
9. Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly
Never dump paints, batteries, cleaning products, oil, oil filters, antifreeze, or any other hazardous materials into the water. Instead, please, take the time and responsibly dispose of these items in the appropriate waste collection facility.
10. Keep It On Board!
Keep your garbage on board while you’re on the water and dispose of it once you return. Never throw fishing lines, old lures, cigarette butts, plastic water bottles, or any other garbage into the ocean. Shoreside facilities are ready to take your trash and recycling –use them!
11. Manage Sewage Waste Appropriately
Never dispose of any sewage within 3 miles of the shore. Instead, use a harbor pump-out station or shoreside facility to dispose of your sewage waste. If you don’t have a toilet installed, use a port-a-potty and empty it at a harbor dump station or bathroom.
Boat Green, Boat Clean!
Owning a boat is a big responsibility – not just financially but environmentally! Stepping up to become an environmentally friendly boater can give you peace of mind and satisfaction, knowing you’re doing your part to keep our waterways beautiful for future generations to enjoy! At Rocket Marine, we are proud to advocate for safe boating and do our part by providing top-quality boat trailers to get you and your boat safely to and from the water. Once you get to the water, please do your part to keep our waterways safe and clean.