This article is from Green Living Online.
(Jul 3, 2007) Boating is one of the great pleasures of summer, but if you're not kayaking, canoeing, rowing, or solar sailboating, your marine motor is contributing to a significant environmental problem.
Every year, the volume of fuel and oil pollution entering North America's waterways from recreational boating is estimated at one billion litres - more than 15 times the amount of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Two times two is better
The problem is the two-stroke marine engine, the typical motor used in boats, Jet Skiis and personal watercraft. Anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of the fuel passing through the combustion chamber of the two-stroke engine remains unburned and is exhausted directly into the water. These engines also exhaust nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides, and cancer-causing hydrocarbons. In fact, the California Air Resource Board says that a day of jet skiing releases as many air pollutants as driving a car 223,000 kilometres.
The best choice you can make is to upgrade to either an electric marine motor, popular in Europe or the four-stroke marine engine. The four-stroke engine burns 40-80 percent less fuel, consumes up to 50 percent less lubricating oil, reduces hydrocarbon emissions by up to 90 percent and is far quieter than the old two-stroke.
Although the four-stroke engine costs about 20 percent more than a traditional two-stroke, you will quickly make up for that in savings on fuel use. And since it runs cleaner, there is less fouling of spark plugs -- one of the things that make engines hard to start. Four-stroke engines are manufactured by Johnson Outboard, Yamaha, and others and are now readily available at any marine supply.
Boatings tips for all
# But whatever combustion engine you're using, there are a number of ways you can lessen your impact on the environment: Spill-proof your fueling practices. Prevent spills by filling tanks slowly and carefully, and by using a fuel collar or rags and absorbent pads to catch drips. Leave the tank at least 5 percent empty, as fuel expands as it warms, so don't "top off" the tank. Always fill portable fuel tanks on shore.
# Wax your boat. A good coat of wax on a fiberglass hull prevents dirt from becoming engrained. This will reduce the need for frequent power-washing.
# Wash topsides only. Limit dockside hull cleaning to above the water surface only. Hulls painted with ablative paints should never be cleaned in the water. If possible, save maintenace projects for the boatyard.
# Use non-toxic cleaners. Many cleaners contain phosphates and toxic chemicals. You can find suggestions for natural boat cleaners in our article Three natural cleaners.
# Keep your bilge clean. Don't pump oily water overboard.
# Dispose of hazardous waste properly. Paints, batteries, antifreeze, oil, oil filters, cleaning products, etc, should be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Georgia Strait Alliance provides a useful online guide on disposal information.
# Keep your engine well-tuned to prevent fuel and oil leaks. For oil changes, use an oil change pump to transform oil to a spill-proof container.
# Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to prevent oil from spilling into the bilge. Place a pillow or pad under the engine to catch drips.
# Keep your trash on board. Never throw cigarette butts, cans, fishing line, or garbage into the water.
# Don't pump sewage in confined waters, or discharge within three miles of shore.
# Use phosphate-free soap and, when possible, do the dishes and showering on shore.
# Use Green Marinas, which are dedicated to environmental practices.