Five Green Tips to Launch Your Boating Season

By Shelley Brown

The weather is getting warmer in the northern hemisphere and it’s about that time of year to take boats out of storage. As we prepare for the boating season, we can all take steps to be eco-smart both on and off the water. Before you launch your boat, check out these simple tips that will help protect our waterways and wildlife.

1. Get to know your local wildlife

One of the many joys of boating involves being able to see marine animals in their natural habitat. Before you head out on the water, research what types of animals may be living in your region – and remember, some species are migratory. By knowing what animals to look for you can help avoid dangerous collisions. To ensure that you have a memorable experience without disturbing wildlife, try to remain at least 300 feet away and limit your viewing time to 30 minutes.

wildlife viewing, whales, marine animals

2. Use your head

First, check to see if there are any pumpout facilities located near where you will be boating. If possible, use a toilet with a holding tank to store sewage until it can be transferred ashore at the pumpout facility. If you’re in an area without pumpout stations nearby, use your Y-valve and only discharge blackwater overboard if you are more than three miles offshore.

pumpout station, blackwater, holding tank

3. Be prepared for a spill

A common way you may unintentionally pollute the environment is by spilling fuel when filling up your fuel tanks. Try using an absorbent bib or collar around the fuel nozzle to catch drips and fill your tank slowly to prevent any overflow. You can also store spare oil-absorbents socks, pads and pillows onboard your boat, just in case a spill occurs. Since each spill will be handled differently, be sure to contact the marina and/or the US Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 for clean-up advice.

smart fueling, fuel collar

4. Slather up with an eco-smart product

Before you head out into the sun, you may be wondering which SPF product to use to protect your skin and the ocean. Some sunscreens contain chemical additives, such as oxybenzone, that can be toxic when they wash off in the ocean and have been shown to contribute to coral bleaching. Check the ingredients in your sunscreen and look for products that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Both create a physical barrier that scatters harmful UV rays.

sunscreen, SPF, eco-friendly product

5. Become a Green Boater

Join a global network of active, engaged ocean champions within the sailing and boating community who are taking action to save our oceans. As a Green Boater, you will be provided with the latest information and resources on sustainable boating practices and opportunities to act on critical policy issues that are needed to combat plastic pollution, prevent habitat destruction and save wildlife.

green boating, sustainability