5 Ways Sailors Can Make a Healthier Environment

April 22, 2022 by Sailing Avocet
Earth Day

Inspired by Earth Day (every day) we decided to do some research on how we can help take care of mother earth as sailors. While sailing the web, we came across a great article by American Sailing that helped generate some of the ideas below. Share your favorite clean-sailing practices with us!


1. Pick up floating trash (practice MOB)

The human race generates over 2.6 trillion tons of trash per year - a good amount polluting the water we enjoy sailing on. While on the water it is, unfortunately, more common than not to come across a balloon. Balloons notoriously get loose, make a break for the sky, then later land in the ocean. Picking up these balloons when they are spotted is a great excuse to both clean up the water around us and practice Man Overboard drills. Next time you go out, grab a net and tell the crew that if they spot one, it’s MOB practice time!


2. Spill prevention

Boats, particularly older ones, can be leaky rascals, but it's up to us as vessel owners to make sure they’re not. Before the season starts go through everything and check on the usual suspects – fuel lines, oil-related components, transmissions, etc. Once the boat is in the water and being sailed regularly, check the bilge often and make sure the water always looks clean and clear (if there is any). If you have a mechanic, ask him to inspect any of the places where potential leaks can begin and address any issues. You don’t want to be the one whose boat just happens to be in the middle of an enormous shiny diesel spill with coughing ducks and seagulls all around. Of course, even with all the preventative maintenance, you should be prepared if a spill does happen, so stock up on oil pads and other spill-management materials. 


3. Consider environmentally friendly bottom paint

The Environmental Protection Agency has been after many marinas across the country regarding the cleanliness of their water. They are urging boaters to use non-copper-based bottom paints because of their toxicity. There are arguments back and forth about this, but for those who haul out the boat every season anyway, checking out a more environmentally agreeable bottom paint is a good idea. For those who dive and clean the bottom themselves, understand what are the correct pads to use so you’re not creating a bloom of nasty copper for the fishies to choke on. This is probably an issue that will eventually get resolved through technological development, but for now, if moving away from copper paint is possible, why not do it?


4. Eco-Friendly Boat Cleaners

Use biodegradable and eco-friendly boat cleaners, without phosphates and other chemical nasties. (phosphates create algae blooms, starving the water and therefore other species of oxygen). The cleanest boat-cleaning option is freshwater, a great scrub brush, and lots of elbow grease!


5. Choose to reuse

It's hard to completely ditch single-use plastics, but we can protect the planet by switching to eco-friendly and reusable alternatives. This easy change will reduce the amount of new plastic we need to make and keeps the ocean clean. Keep extra cups, straws, and bags where you need them most - in your home, car, office, and bag.


As sailors, we have a responsibility towards our seas, and if we all are conscious of our actions and make a couple of easy adjustments in our everyday sailing life, we can have a great impact altogether. 


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