Sanding, cleaning, painting and degreasing boats can pose major threats to our waters. Dust and paint particles can block life-giving sunlight, and toxic substances from cleaners and antifouling compounds can sicken or kill marine life. You can help protect the marine environment by following repair and maintenance tips from Ocean Conservancy’s Good Mate program.
Washing & cleaning your boat
- Use non-hazardous materials; if it’s hazardous to you, it’s hazardous to the environment.
- Rinse your boat with fresh water after each use.
- Look for catch basins or other collection systems at the posted wash areas of your marina. These systems stop paint resins, chips and other hazardous products from entering the aquatic environment. If your marina does not have one of these systems, encourage the owner to get one.
- Look for the words “phosphate-free” and “biodegradable” on labels.
- Keep open cleaning-product containers away from the open deck where spills can flow into the water easily.
- Use a cleaning rag to absorb any spills, and dispose of the rag safely. Don’t hose spills from the deck into the water.
Sanding & scraping your boat
- Sand and scrape away from the water, preferably in a dedicated work area.
- Use a vacuum sander that collects and stores paint particles to keep them out of the water.
- Lay tarps to catch loose particles when scraping or sanding, and sweep or vacuum frequently.
Painting your hull
- Dry-docking or hauling your boat after each use may eliminate the need for antifouling paints.
- When you paint your hull, use environmentally friendly products.
Maintaining boat operations
- Tune the engine regularly. It will operate more cleanly, increase fuel efficiency and last longer.
- Steam clean the engine in a dedicated service area instead of using harmful engine cleaners.
- Regularly inspect through-hull fittings, such as the depth finder transponder and cooling water intakes, for leakage. A sinking vessel not only poses a great safety risk to passengers but can also introduce a substantial amount of fuel, oil and chemicals into the water.
Help promote safe environmental practices in your area; order Ocean Conservancy’s Good Mate brochure or CD at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the organization’s Good Mate website for more information.