Now that summer is in full swing and boaters across the country are enjoying boating at a safe distance, it's important to remind ourselves how to care both our own health and that of our waterways as well. 

There’s nothing better than a day out on the water and having the wind in your hair, however, casting off the dock lines does not mean shrugging off the responsibility we have for our lakes, rivers, bays and oceans. Being an eco-friendly boater is easy and there’s no need for fancy equipment to make a difference. In fact, making small, eco-conscious decisions make time out on the water even more enjoyable because it feels good leaving the beauty of the outdoors in great condition for future generations.

Let’s all commit to leaving a clean wake this summer and bringing eco-friendly boating practices to the forefront. Here are a few eco-friendly boating ideas for a jump start this boating season.

  1. Leave A Clean Wake
    Eliminate the worry of polluting while underway by keeping boat items and waste baskets secured. When ashore, take a few minutes to look around and pick up any debris that may have washed up - this is what we call leaving a clean wake.

  2. Trim Up Your Outboard
    When you're in shallow water, trim up your outboard motor. Kicking up sediment not only affects water clarity, it can also cause harm to marine plants, vegetation and animals.

  3. Choose Eco-Friendly Cleaning Supplies
    Before sinking money into new upholstery or expensive, harsh soaps that typically aren’t good for your health, your boat’s surfaces, or the water, first try good-ole vinegar and baking soda to clean your boat. Vinegar makes water spots vanish and has purifying power on par with bleach. Baking soda, stainless steel’s best friend, does a number to odors and has gentle but mighty scrubbing strength.

  4. Obey no-wake zones
    Waves produced by a boat traveling at high speed in a no-wake zone are not only disruptive to other boaters in the area, they can cause shoreline erosion and disturb water life.

  5. Check your boat’s fuel tanks and lines
    Plastic fuel cans and rubber hoses degrade over time, and gasoline is corrosive. Regular inspections can prevent leaks and a toxic mess.

  6. Keep your bilge dry
    Keep your bilge dry and free from chemicals and pollutants. Avoid contaminating waterways by pumping out at designated pump-out stations.

  7. Invest in solar-powered gadgets
    Flashlights, dock lights, speakers, and multi-purpose charging devices using solar power are now competitively priced and widely available.

  8. Use Sustainable Marine Products
    Furthermore, we’re excited about sustainable marine products and innovations like non-toxic, lead-free sinkers, biodegradable fishing lines, and people making gear bags made from up-cycled hip waders! Don’t throw away those mint tins or old pool noodles either, because they make handy, floating hook holders and tackle storage, among other things.

Final Thought

When it comes to protecting our waterways, we're all in the same boat. Many people are “kicking plastic” or doing “one small thing” to make our waters cleaner. So, whether you are participating in shoreline cleanups or raising awareness in other ways about eco-friendly boating, know that each individual action creates a ripple effect that can have a profound impact on the world around us.

Written by: Jennifer Burkett
Jenny is an avid boater who has worked in the marine industry for years. She developed a fondness for trawlers during her tenure at Kadey-Krogen Yachts and has an affinity for life-on-the-water, contributing articles regularly to Boat Trader, YachtWorld and Originally from Chicago, she made her way to Maryland to escape the bone-chilling winter temperatures of the Midwest and to be close to the coastline. She's made Kent Island her home—a location that makes enjoying the Chesapeake Bay a part of her daily life.