Reducing Your Footprint While Enjoying the Shore

Leave Only Bubbles: A Guide to Responsible Boating

From fishing and crabbing to waterskiing and sailing, the Chesapeake Bay offers us myriad recreational opportunities each summer. These activities depend on a healthy watershed, and the watershed’s health depends on us. Before you cast off on your next boating excursion, make a note of the following best practices for an eco-friendly day on the Bay:

Reduce your waste. An easy way to lower your risk of accidentally contributing to plastic pollution is to stash reusable utensils, plates and cups on the boat. You can even take this a step further: Bring a trash bag with you to clean up the litter left by others. Finally, whatever you brought onboard before your excursion should come off the boat with you when you return to the dock.

Slow down. The slower you go, the less fuel you’ll use.

Be mindful of how much fuel you use. Plot out your route ahead of time so you don’t waste fuel getting lost, and keep your speed in check—the slower you go, the less fuel you use. Lastly, be careful not to overfill the tank; excess fuel can escape through vents.

Be prepared for spills. Even small spills can harm birds and other wildlife. Use a fuel collar or bib when fueling to catch drips and prevent backsplash. In case of an accident, keep a supply of oil-absorbent rags onboard for cleanup.

Keep it clean. Reduce drag as much as possible by keeping the hull clean. Use nontoxic cleaners—or natural ones, such as vinegar—and avoid the ones containing phosphates and other toxic chemicals. You may also want to try giving your boat a good coat of wax to prevent surface dirt from clinging onto the hull. The less dirt, the less of a need for detergents on cleaning day.

Don’t destroy the shoreline. Keep a low speed near the shore so you don’t stir up bottom sediment or destroy aquatic vegetation.

Reduce the spread of invasive species. Wash your gear and boat before and after a trip to avoid importing alien species. This includes disposing any plant material in a garbage container on dry land.

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