Top Five Tips for Clean and Green Sailing

Environmental hazards sit at the heart of boating. Though sailboats are not the primary perpetrators of pollution and environmental destruction, sailors should remain cautious and respectful of their environment. Whether your sailboat has a motor, runs on wind power alone, or can sleep a full family, there are ways to significantly reduce your boat’s drain on environmental resources. Below, we have included five tips for clean and green sailing.


Fuel carefully. If your sailboat has a motor and/or uses fuel, keep your engine well-tuned to prevent leaks. Secure and oil-absorbent pad or pillow in your bilge and under the engine where drips may occur. Check your pads frequently and dispose of them as hazardous waste at a marina. When changing your oil, use a pump to transfer oil into a spill-proof container. Prevent fuel spills by filling your fuel tank slowly, and never “top off” or overflow your tank.


Minimize in-water cleaning and maintenance. Save all cleaning and maintenance projects for off-season boatyard stays. If you perform work on the water, do your best to contain waste. Use tarps and vacuum sanders to collect all drips and debris for proper disposal.


Choose your paint wisely. Soft-sloughing antifouling paints often have heavy metals, which discharge into the water. Use only non-abrasive underwater hull cleaning to prevent excessive paint discharge and use less toxic or nontoxic paint when possible. Dry storage reduces the need for antifouling paints and saves money.


Control your waste. Always keep your trash on board. Never throw cigarette butts, fishing line, or garbage into the ocean. Shore-side facilities will often have receptacles for plastic, glass, metal, and paper. Similarly, properly dispose of hazardous waste, which includes paints, batteries, antifreeze, cleaning products, and oil.


Reduce greywater discharge. Greywater is the relatively clean waste water that comes from baths, sinks, washing machines, and other appliances. Some large sailboats may have showers, bathrooms, and sinks. Whenever possible, use a phosphate-free biodegradable soap to minimize the impacts of greywater on the marine environment. Clean dishes and take showers on shore whenever possible.