Take Green to the Water!

Going Green isn’t just something that California residents do these days.  It’s a universal way of life and can be applied to everything we do.  However, rarely do we think about it on the water as we are loading our beer and rods onto the boat during a beautiful summer day.   Here are a few tips to help keep you green this summer so that our waterways and marine life will be around for generations to come.

 Oil and Fuel Pollution

Oil and fuel pollution is probably the most commonly contributed pollution we as boaters are guilty of.  Most of the time, we aren’t even aware we are doing it.  In fact, every year Americans alone spill, throw away or dump out more than 30 times the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez Disaster in Prince William Sound.  There are a few things you can do to ensure you are not part of the problem:

  1. When re-fueling your boat, use an oil absorbing pad to clean up any drips or spills.    A great option is the Chadd Padd- a reusable pad that minimizes fuel pollution into our waterways.  At only $9.95 for a 6pack, there is no reason not to have them handy.  They can also be used as a drip mat in the bilge before pumpout or when working with hydraulic fluids.
  2. If you change your own oil, make sure to use a closed system such as a portable oil-change pump and again, have your oil absorbent pad handy.  Make sure to recycle your oil and filters or dispose of it properly.
  3. Do not overfill your tank.  Its recommended to only fill to 90% so that there is room for expansion of the fuel as it warms and to minimize the risk of overflow.
  4. Use oil absorbent pads in your bilge and under your engine and be sure to check them often.  When full, be sure to dispose of them in the hazardous waste containers.


Every boat owner knows the importance of cleaning and maintaining your boat to get the most out of it.  It’s important to take that same care when thinking of our waterways, in order to get the most of them as well.

  1. If you can help it, minimize the cleaning you do while on the water.  If you stow your boat in the water this is obviously more difficult, but if you dry dock your boat- make sure to wait until you pull it to start cleaning it to avoid harmful chemicals and byproducts flushing back into the water.
  2. Only use biodegradable cleaning products and those specifically designed for the environment and boating.  Although dish soap works well in your home, it is toxic to marine life and attaches to fuel which causes it to sink to the waters floor.   Companies are now using more organic based products such as baking soda, vinegar and citrus which work better than traditional chemicals and do not cause harm is washed into the water.   If the bottle suggests wearing gloves, it’s probably a safe bet you don’t want to swim in it later.
  3. By maintaining your boats hull and minimizing the growth on the bottom, you increase fuel efficiency as well as decreasing the work your engine is expected to perform, thus extending the life of the motor.

 Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

We’ve been hearing this for years- it’s time to bring it to the high seas!

  1. Reduce fuel consumption by keeping your hull clean, driving at slower speeds, properly using trim tabs, minimizing idle time, plotting your course ahead of time, and ensuring your boat is properly fitted with the correct equipment for load size.
  2. Reuse products as much as possible.  Keep rinse buckets on board to avoid wasting fresh water, invest in reusable towels for cleaning up messes, use refillable water bottles and jugs, reuse filters, and recycled oil.
  3. Recycle!  So many of our everyday boating items can be recycled yet we rarely take care to do so.   Monofilament fishing line not only gets tangled in your prop, but kills marine life.  Plastic bags are eaten by hungry Sea Turtles when they are mistaken for jellyfish.  And we have all seen the picture of the turtle who got caught in a 6pack plastic ring holder.  Clip each section, tie plastic bags in a knot and bring everything to recycling units.  Marinas has started to take action to help protect our environment so look for recycling bins when you stop!
  4. Being a “Plus Oner” means coming back with everything you took out PLUS something someone else left behind.   Make sure you tie down anything loose that could blow away or fall overboard.  Stow your trash.  Don’t throw anything into the water.  Cigarette butts are the most prevalent marine litter found during coastal cleanups.

Ultimately there are a million different things we can do to become greener boaters.  Although ideally we would consider the environment with every action of every day, if we can just start with a few things until they become native, and add as the season goes on, we’ll have pristine waters and flourishing marine life for years to come.  For more information on how to be green, check out the following site:

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