Green Boating: The Present and the Future (Opinion)

Written by on February 12, 2015 in Other News

By Kate Flannery

Few people understand the ways in which our daily activities affect our surroundings. Things such as hobbies can inflict great damage to the bioverse of a region, and to avoid this happening, we need to pay more attention to what we do. Boating is a notorious hobby for the way it squanders diesel, and the way it spreads chemicals into the water. Green boating is one of the paths to choose in order to preserve the delicate marine ecosystems, and have some fun aboard a deck as well.

Greek Fishing Village by Rennett Stowe.

Greek Fishing Village by Rennett Stowe.

Carelessness, the mother of most environmental problems. While a minor spill from a boat is deemed as no big deal in comparison to the bigger spills paraded around the news, it does in fact pollute gallons and gallons of water, rendering them uninhabitable. With delicate organisms such as corals already endangered and rare, spillage and grey water is a sure-fire way to wipe out entire ecosystems.

Boat paint is problematic. For a very long time, antifouling and paint were laden with very heavy chemicals that would leak out into the open water. In most boating areas, boats are taken out of the water only during the winter. The amount of hazardous chemicals that drip off of one boat, in one dock, during one month is devastating. And there are always dozens of boats in dozens of docks in an area, and the problem reaches a much larger scale very easily.

Carelessness can be replaced with responsibility. The main rule of green boating is to leave nothing behind, so building and maintaining your boat in such a way that it leaves a minimal trace on the environment is as far as an average boater needs to go to achieve peace of mind. Leaking can be avoided, both in the harbour, and in open waters, and modern tanks are hermetically sealed, so that they can contain fluids and fuel in even the harshest conditions. Toxic dyes have long since been replaced with safer methods, but as they are still in circulation, it is good to know: soft-sloughing antifouling paints are bad, nontoxic antifouling is good. Finally, keep boat fluids on the boat, and dispose of them in designated waste deposits – available in every marina. Boat maintenance is best done on dry land, where the risk of discharge, and even worse, grey, soapy water making contact with the environment is minimal. Woodwork, aluminium, copper, brass and chrome parts can be treated with natural ingredients, such as vinegar and baking soda.

We have sailed into the 20th century with half-hearted methods of caring for the environment; we are cruising around the 21st century with every boater knowing their way around green boat maintenance. Where the future will lead us, we do not know just yet, but there are some legitimate and rather interesting guesses. The popularity of concept design bears good tidings in the business. Calling some designers doomsday preppers would be over the top, but there are those who are actively working towards creating practical solutions towards, say, a Waterworld situation. Floating communities haven’t reached the level of attainability that Earthships have, but the premise is the same – self-sustainable, 100% green communities fit for several families to live a sheltered, independent and aesthetically pleasurable life.

Kate Flannery is a sailor by day and blogger by night. She wrote this article inspired by the build site crew at Fix My Boat. Co-owning and chartering boats is a great way to keep the business and the waters clean.

Copyright © 2015 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

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