Sustainable Navigation

10 Tips for More Sustainable Navigation – Part 1

Shortly after a boat passes, its wake quickly fades away, but as boaters, we should always remember that the impact of our vessel doesn’t disappear so quickly. In fact, it lingers. It’s important to recognize that what we do has an impact on the waters we love, and there are ways to make our “wake prints” more sustainable, safeguarding marine environments.

Protecting the environment and adhering to best practices for sustainable navigation requires a conscious effort from all of us and starts with how we navigate, where we do it, and the products we use on our boats.

Paying attention to these details not only helps safeguard the environment but can also lead to an improved boating experience, which can become more enjoyable, affordable, and fun.

Here are some tips for clean and sustainable navigation, to always keep in mind when on the water.

1. Preventing oily discharges for a more sustainable navigation

If you have a boat with an inboard or outboard engine, you can place an absorbent mat or cloth and secure it in the bilge and under the engine to absorb any oil leaks. Regularly check it to prevent it from clogging the bilge pump and dispose of it as hazardous waste at a port or designated collection center.

Additionally, you can follow some tips when changing the oil in your boat:

  • Transfer the oil to a sealed container using an oil change pump.
  • Take the used engine oil to a recycling center.
  • When removing the oil filter, wrap it in a plastic bag or absorbent cloth to prevent leaks.

2. Keep the engine well-tuned, maintained, and inspected

A well-maintained engine will maximize fuel efficiency and the life of the engine itself. This not only helps reduce your environmental impact but also saves money because you’ll be able to go farther and faster on each liter of fuel.

Also, make sure to visually inspect parts of the boat’s propulsion system, such as fuel tanks and fuel lines, which may lose efficiency over time.

Inspect the propeller as well; bent blades and dents lead to decreased boat efficiency and consequently, greater resource expenditure.

Remember: The sooner you identify any issues, the more effectively you can address them.

3. Fill the fuel tank slowly

When refueling, take your time. Fill the tank slowly and avoid topping it off completely, leaving at least a 10% empty space for fuel expansion during heating. This prevents overflow.

Additionally, to prevent further spills, it’s good practice to use rags or pads to catch any excess fuel during refueling.

If you accidentally spill fuel (or oil), never use soap to disperse it, as it would only worsen environmental damage. Instead, notify the harbor authorities; they should have all the necessary equipment to respond promptly.

4. Slow Down and Navigate Responsibly

Most modern motorboats can go quite fast, and racing around the bay might be fun at first. However, by cruising at a lower speed, not only do you enjoy your time on the boat more, but you also reduce your carbon footprint. The environment will thank you for it.

The ideal cruising speed is the most efficient one, where the boat achieves the lowest liters/mile, usually around two-thirds throttle.

In most modern fuel systems, you can scroll through the engine monitor and find the liters/mile display, trim the boat to level, and then gradually increase the speed until the liters/mile value hits the minimum. Note how many revolutions per minute (RPM) the engine is turning at that liters/mile value. That’s your boat’s efficient cruising speed.

Also, in these cases, it’s important to use the RPM setting rather than speed in knots. Factors like wind and current may cause the boat to travel at different speeds in different conditions, but you can consistently set the throttle to a certain RPM.

In addition to slowing down, don’t forget to keep in mind the three main pillars of “navigating responsibly”:

  • Minimize repeated passes in the same area.
  • Keep the music at a responsible level.
  • Maintain at least the distance from the shore prescribed by regulations and local ordinances.

5. Minimize Maintenance in the Water

Perform maintenance on land.

If it’s not possible and you must carry out interventions while afloat, remember to:

  • Collect waste to minimize your environmental impact.
  • Use tarps and vacuum cleaners to easily collect drips, dust, and debris and dispose of them properly.

If you have an outboard engine, it’s much easier and safer to perform regular maintenance operations (such as oil changes, fuel filter replacement, and tune-ups) on land than in the water.

Also, remember that even simple maintenance tasks, like boat cleaning, can have an impact on the sea, so make sure to use appropriate cleaning products, such as non-toxic, phosphate-free boat soaps. If you need to use a caustic cleaner, do the work on land, where it’s much easier to contain spills and avoid messes.

These are the first 5 of our 10 tips sustainable navigation. Have fun in a greener and more environmentally friendly way. Follow us on social media to not miss the release of the second part.