Skipper’s Tips #16 – Green & Clean

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Well there we go, another year over and a new one just begun… I’m sure I’ve heard someone else saying that!

I must put my hands up and apologise for not posting much recently but it’s been a quiet winter for me adventures wise and I’ve had to resort to sitting in front of a computer in an office just to pay the bills 😦

However, the season will soon be upon us and I’m sure it will bring new opportunities in abundance.  In the mean time I’m going to harp on about the environment and our obligation to be mindful of the impact we, as motor boaters, have on it.

This is an extremely important issue which affects us all. Personally, I feel strongly about looking after the environment.  I know this sounds absurd when you consider what I do for a living but motor boats are here to stay and sensibly we should be trying to mitigate the adverse effects we all have on the environment and not just pointing our collective fingers at someone else. A smokey old ‘donker’ on a yacht, will often produce many times more harmful emissions than that of a modern, efficient, common rail diesel engine. So to all yacht owners, don’t get on your high horse just yet – I bet you didn’t cycle or better still walk to your boat the last time you used it, did you?

As boat users we all have a responsibility to the environment; to the sea, the coastline, and of course, to the natural wildlife. It isn’t difficult to be conscientious and considerate, and by following a few simple rules we can all play a part in helping to keep our waters safe and clean for everyone to enjoy. At the very least we should be aiming to minimise the impact our boating has on the environment around us but if we can actually make improvements, then so much the better.

The following items are all very obvious examples of what should never enter the sea:

  • Garbage of any sort, including bio-degradable food materials
  • Oil and oily wastes
  • Sewage – if it is going to be harmful to the amenity value of the local water
  • Toxic wastes

One way to make life easier for yourself, and easier on the environment is to dispose of as much packaging as possible before you load food and drinks onto your boat. Put food into washable, reusable containers to reduce waste on board and keep rubbish in sealed sacks ready to dispose of appropriately when you next get to shore. Another useful tip is to keep a can crusher on board to reduce the space your rubbish occupies. 

We have all had a bilge full of oily water at some stage in our boating career. Instead of dumping it irresponsibly into the water, carry some absorbent pads to soak up the liquid and then dispose of it later in the oil waste drums which are now found at most modern marinas.

Over the years, the practice of discharging toilets directly into the sea has been seen as normal and acceptable yet, at the same time, we are all very aware of the noxious effects this discharge has in busy marinas, particularly when the tidal effect is minimal. I have noticed that more and more people are fitting holding tanks to their boats these days. Sometimes this is because of a conscious decision to take a more ‘friendly’ approach and sometimes it is because local regulations are getting stiffer – many countries in the Med are now insisting on black waste holdings tanks and some are even expecting us to fit grey waste tanks too – I’ve heard of boaters being fined in Greece for discharging their washing-up water from the kitchen sink into the sea. With more and more marinas offering pump out facilities, there really is no excuse to not manage your boat’s waste appropriately. For those of us without a system to contain waste or if your boat lives in an area where pump out facilities don’t exist, nipping three miles out to sea to empty the tanks isn’t a great hardship – we must be mindful of other water users nearby and the tidal movement or indeed lack of it.  It is not always acceptable to simply flush your waste out to sea like sweeping dust under a carpet.

Its not just when we are on the water that we can have a harmful effect on the environment either.  Every year we scrub the hull off and apply new coats of anti-foul. Where does the old anti-foul that has just been scrubbed off the hull go to? Most often, it gets washed into the nearby marina of course.  It goes without saying that anti-foul paint, scrapings and wash-off must not get into the sea as these are serious contaminants.  Make every effort when removing the old anti-foul to tidy up the debris and dispose of it carefully.  I would urge everyone to make a determined effort to use environmentally friendly products at all times to help minimise damage to the environment in the long term.  More and more environmentally products are becoming available.  They are effective substitutes for the existing products and priced the same too.

Have a go folks!  Its not difficult to do this properly and we all benefit.

GO GREEN for 2017!

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.