Green Boating Tips for the Eco-Minded Mariner

How boaters can strive to be more environmentally friendly when running, cleaning and maintaining their boats

green boating
Photo by Jameskingfish via Wikimedia Commons

Boaters understand better than most people the need for environmentally responsible behavior. Oceans and lakes have taken a lot of abuse over the past century from humanity, and the damage shows. No one wants to boat, swim or fish in polluted water, making green boating a priority for the modern boater.

Fortunately, green boating does more than just save the environment. It can also save you money and make your equipment last longer, two things everyone can appreciate.

Adopt the following clean boating practices to better maintain your boat, save on gas and help take care of the environment as well.

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Save gas

Saving on gas reduces the emissions your boat produces, which is good for the environment, and saves you from spending unnecessary money on gas. There are several ways you can reduce the fuel consumption of your boat, including:

  • Ensure you have a big enough engine – if your engine is open full-throttle regularly, it is running less efficiently than a larger engine would pushing the same weight.
  • Run at a slower speed – you may live for speed, but reducing your average speed will definitely cut back on your fuel costs.
  • Keep your boat clean – your hull will cut through the water with less drag if you keep it clean.

Dispose of things properly

There are strict laws in place that dictate where and how you can dispose of things like garbage, sewage and grey water. Observing the laws for your area is important because you will not only damage the surrounding environment, you may also lose your boating license if you are caught.

Taking a boater education course is a great way to learn about the regulations that pertain to your area. When you get a boating license for Alabama or any other state, you will learn about proper disposal practices. For instance, you must dump raw sewage at least three miles from shore, according to Understanding proper disposal requirements is vital to eco-friendly boating.

Keep your boat green-clean

Performing regular maintenance on your boat is a must to keep it functioning properly. This will make your equipment last longer and will ensure the best performance. It will also prevent you from leaking toxic substances into the water.

There are a variety of green products available for cleaning all parts of your boat. However, you can save money by using basic ingredients from the grocery store. The Department of Ecology for the State of Washington recommends things like vinegar, borax, baking soda and lemon juice. Combine all of these with a little elbow grease, says the government agency, and you can clean most boats—as long as they do not have soft toxic coatings.

Remember to pull your boat out of the water and clean it at a proper facility if it does have one of the older, soft hull coatings. Older coatings like this can cause significant damage if they are scraped off into the water.

Keep species where they belong

There are many different species that will hitch rides on your boat when you move it from one body of water to another, wreaking havoc in the process. The EPA recommends cleaning your boat each time you move it from location to location to prevent unwanted, aquatic hitchhikers. In may places, you are required to do so by law. This means running through the full cleaning process, including draining and drying your boat.

GUEST POST: This article was contributed by Susan Hathaway – Susan has an MBA and a degree in environmental sustainability. She runs a small green consulting business and freelances for fun on the weekends.

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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups.
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