As boaters, it's up to all of us to help protect the ecosystems that provide us so much joy. And with the growing availability of green marine products, there's really no reason for us not to do our part. We can do the "little things" – like running fans instead of air conditioning, using rechargeable batteries and recycling garbage – because even small steps matter.
In addition, an array of environmentally friendly wares like the collection listed here can be found locally at chandleries like Budget Marine (www.budgetmarine.com) and Island Water World (www.islandwaterworld.com).
One of the easiest and best ways to get started in the green marine movement is to use environmentally-responsible boat cleaning products. Why? Because they're not exorbitantly expensive, and we all know where your soapy runoff goes: straight into the water. Star brite, a leading manufacturer of cleaners and polishes for cars and boats, offers its Sea Safe line, and you'd be hard pressed to find a part of your vessel not covered. There's bottom cleaner, deck cleaner, hull cleaner, teak cleaner, degreaser and more. It's all biodegradable (even the bottles) and totally safe for the sea.
Another big concern for boaters is bilge water contaminated by pollutants, because it too goes right overboard. Centek Industries has an answer with its BilgeKleen filter system, which installs to the bilge pump discharge line and automatically removes oil, gas and diesel fuel before they're spit into the ocean. The system also includes an absorbent pad for the bilge sump area to capture harmful contaminants where they form. A variety of BilgeKleen sizes are available to fit almost any application, from runabouts to commercial ships.
As you know, some of the hardest parts of a boat to reach are those under the surface that sit in salt water year-round. And when you do get a chance to clean them, they often require heavy-duty scouring with harsh acids or chemicals. Enter an eco-friendly solution: Barnacle Buster from TRAC Ecological Marine Products. It can quickly and safely remove marine growth and mineral deposits from engine heat exchangers, air conditioning systems, piping systems, outboards and outdrives with a non-toxic, biodegradable chemical. In short, it dissolves the unwanted buildup and then dissolves itself without a destructive trace.
Once your running gear and wheels are growth-free, slap on a coat of Peller Primer and two coats of Peller Clean from SeaJet to keep them that way. This product is a transparent, eco-friendly release coating designed to keep your propellers, outboards and outdrives free from fouling. In addition to doing no harm, Peller Clean can improve boat performance and efficiency, ultimately resulting in less pollutants reaching the environment.
When it comes time to remove paint from your boat's bottom without harming the gelcoat, or the outdoors, SodaBlast offers a special formulation of non-toxic sodium bicarbonate – otherwise known as baking soda. (What doesn't it do?) In the SodaBlasting process, a stream of air-driven baking soda under high pressure is used to strip the paint and open up any blisters for repair without disturbing the integrity of the hull. The process takes 1/10th the time a traditional techniques, and isn't as caustic. SodaBlasting is available from a network of more than 180 contractors worldwide, including in the Caribbean.
What you put into your fuel tank can make a big difference in what comes out and how it affects the environment. Star Tron is a fuel additive that utilizes natural enzymes to improve fuel quality and prevent the formation of gums, resins and sludge. The result is enhanced power, improved fuel economy and reduced emissions. In other words, it's better for your boat and better for the atmosphere. Plus, fuel treated with Star Tron is reported to stay fresh for up to two years.
Of course, being eco-friendly isn't just about chemicals and cleaners. The moving parts (particularly the heavy chains) of conventional mooring systems can damage sea beds that serve as vital marine habitats. With no moving parts to come in contact with the sea floor, the EzyRider Mooring System from Global Moorings Pty Ltd has virtually no impact on the marine environment. It works by using a unique shaft and buoy arrangement that holds the chain up off the sea bed and also results in less bobbing and reduced swing room. The EzyRider Mooring System can be installed to various anchoring systems in a wide range of vessel applications.
Alternative onboard energy sources can lengthen your battery life, and therefore save you having to change and dump your old ones in the ground. The SE-150 and SE-500 solar panels from Sunsei Solar are designed to use with 12-volt batteries (they're an ideal way to maintain the start battery on an infrequently used standby generator). The SE-150 is made to mount on the inside of a window or windshield with included suction cups. The SE-500 is weatherproof and can be mounted outside on a deck or railing.
Aerogen Wind Generators can charge lead acid and gel batteries when power is either not available or not suitable. And just like solar panels, once the wind generator is purchased, the power is free and can be used in a wide variety of situations. The Aero4gen is suitable for cruising and is quiet, safe, compact and lightweight, eliminating heavy mounting problems.
Brad Kovach has served as a full-time and freelance writer/editor for Motor Boating, Boating World, ShowBoats International and Caribbean Travel & Life magazines. He is currently the editor of Yacht Essentials, the sister-publication of All at Sea.