All across America boating season has begun. With some help from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, here are six ways boaters can help keep waters clean and be good environmental stewards all summer long.
- Cleaning and waxing: When making your boat sparkle, understand that some general cleaning soaps may have harmful chemicals, so consider using alternate cleaning methods. You’d be surprised, for example, of how effective (and affordable) having a spray bottle with the proper mix of white vinegar and water can be as an all-purpose cleaner.
- Waste management: A simple thing like having a trash bin aboard can make a difference, especially in a crowded Saturday afternoon anchorage. Ensure it has a lid that can be secured to prevent trash from blowing overboard. The presence of a trash can, and ensuring everyone aboard knows where it is, will encourage guests be good environmental stewards as well.
- Sewage handling: If you have a head aboard, ensure it’s in good working condition. Also familiarize yourself with how to use a pumpout correctly. Mistakes here can make it into family lore. Before you go to the pumpout location, call ahead to ensure it’s operating, advise of your boat length and ask if there are any restrictions on getting access to the pump as it may be in a tight location. The good news is that many are inexpensive or free.
- Fuel efficiency: In addition to having the engine tuned, have you had last season’s propeller dings fixed? You’d be surprised what a little time in a prop shop can do for a boat’s fuel economy. Other places to look to save gas: Are you carrying around a bunch of extra junk (weight) in lockers? Are your trim tabs in good working order? Balancing the load, especially in smaller boats, not only improves efficiency but safety as well.
- Fishing: While everyone wants to have the biggest catch after a long day of fishing, it’s important to practice selective harvesting. This encourages you to keep more midsized fish and release the biggest ones as they’re more likely to reproduce next season. Use circle hooks to minimize damage, and do your best never to leave fishing line in the water. Encourage your community’s line recycling by making a monofilament fishing line recycling bin and start a recycling program at your boating and fishing club, launch ramp or marina.
- Refueling: Check out this short refueling tips video. Never use hands-free clips, and avoid any distractions while fueling. Fuel expands as temperatures rise, so don’t top off your tank. Know how much fuel your tank holds and fill it to about 90%. Clean up fuel spills immediately with an oil-only absorbent pad. The U.S. Coast Guard must be notified if a spill creates sheen on the water. Call the Coast Guard National Response Center at 800-424-8802 to report a spill. If you are refueling at a gas station, ensure you do not refuel your marine engine with E15 (15% ethanol) fuel or greater blends as this is against the law and will void your engine’s warranty.