As the owner or primary operator of a boat, you probably love the water. You might love the calm, tranquil nature of the sea, you might love the contrast of relaxation and exhilaration in activities like fishing, or you might just have a genuine love for using your boat to take people from place to place.
In any case, you rely on the water’s continued existence. You have a vested interest in helping the environment thrive. So what steps can you take to reduce your environmental impact and ensure the sustainability of this natural feature?
Switch to an Electric Motor
Outboard electric boat motors are growing in popularity since they’re becoming cheaper to manufacture, more affordable for boat owners, more efficient, and easier to install. Electric boat motors have many advantages over their fossil fuel-based counterparts; they tend to be more energy efficient overall, they’re much quieter, and yet, they can produce just as much power in most applications.
There are only a few downsides, including the fact that electric motors tend to be more expensive initially, though even these downsides are often mitigated – for example, while electric motors are more expensive up front, they tend to be much less expensive when you account for fuel cost savings.
Avoid Fuel or Oil Spills
Oil and fuel are necessary for your boat to operate successfully, but mishandling these materials can be downright dangerous for the environment. When refueling your boat, pay close attention to what you’re doing and avoid getting any fuel in the water. When changing the oil, take extra precautions to ensure no leakage.
Practice Proactive Boat Maintenance
It’s also a good idea to practice preventative boat maintenance. This can reduce your environmental impact in several ways. For starters, keeping your boat adequately maintained is useful for improving its operational efficiency; with fewer potential issues and inefficiencies, your boat will be able to do more with less energy, ultimately reducing emissions.
Additionally, keeping your boat in good condition reduces its likelihood of leaking substances into the water or producing other debris.
Install Solar Panels
Do you use electricity when on your boat? Consider installing solar panels. Solar energy is one of the most sustainable and efficient sources of energy we have; solar rays are abundant, and it’s unlikely that the sun is going to burn out anytime soon. Modern solar panels are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, and once you have them, you’ll have a steady supply of energy whenever the sun is shining. Since you’re probably only boating on days with good weather anyway, you stand to benefit enormously.
Never Throw Trash in the Water
In the Pacific Ocean, there are accumulations of garbage so massive and destructive that they’ve been deemed the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” Most of these are byproducts of irresponsible waste disposal practices of entire nations, but they exemplify why it’s so important to practice effective waste management at the individual level.
Never throw your trash in the water, with the exception of totally biodegradable materials like organic waste from the food you eat. Keep a trash can or bag onboard so none of your passengers are tempted to throw materials overboard.
Practice Responsible Fishing
If you plan on fishing on your boat, practice responsible fishing. That means adhering to local laws and regulations, throwing back certain types of fish, complying with catch limits, and potentially culling invasive species.
Be Mindful of the Products You Use
Next, be mindful of the products you use in, on, and around your boat.
- Sunscreen. Sunscreen is vital to protect your skin from UV damage from the sun – but certain types of sunscreen contain UV agents that aren’t stable in the water, thus creating byproducts that can harm local ecosystems. Always review the labels of your sunscreen products before purchasing.
- Paint.Some types of paint are designed to be environmentally friendly, while others can be sources of pollution. If you paint your boat, choose the right type.
- Detergents.Certain detergents can also be harmful to aquatic species, so choose natural cleaning products whenever possible.
- Wax.Applying wax to your boat regularly helps to discourage the buildup of dirt and debris – meaning you’ll have to clean it far less.
Go With the Winds and Tides
Whenever planning your routes, consider going with the winds and tides. If you go against the winds or tides, you’re going to expend more energy, compromising the sustainability of your voyage. This is obviously an optional strategy, but it could help you minimize your impact.
With these strategies, you can increase your boat’s operating efficiency and reduce your environmental impact. As a responsible and sustainable boat captain, you’ll be helping the environment you love so much thrive indefinitely.