Written by Lt. Paul Rhynard, Coast Guard public affairs.
Dedication to the safety of life at sea is at the core of the Coast Guard’s cultural fabric. It’s also why National Safe Boating Week is one of our favorite times of the year. Equally as important as our devotion to protecting life at sea is our commitment to protecting the sea itself. As you take the time to double check your safety equipment, get your courtesy vessel inspections and get your boat ready for the 2011 boating season, keep the following pointers in mind:
1. Do not overfill your fuel tank – whether it’s a portable tank sitting on the dock or the permanent tank on your boat, do not rely on fuel spilling over to tell you the tank is full. Even if your permanent tank has a vent, you don’t want to use that as your gauge because it still results in fuel spilling into the environment. Use a fuel gauge or dipstick to learn your tank’s capacity and keep track of the number of gallons dispensed at the pump.
2. Maintain your engine – wipe up spilled fuel, oil and other petroleum products. Do not wash them overboard. Keep your engine tuned up and in good working order. A healthy engine means less leakage and exhaust. It also means better fuel efficiency and less money spent at the pump.
3. Use tributyltin-free and copper-free water-based paints – tributyltin and copper paints used to prevent buildup on your hull are harmful to the marine environment. Water-based paints without tributyltin or copper are just as effective at keeping your hull clean. A clean hull means lower drag and improved fuel efficiency.
4. Manage your speed and observe no-wake zones – enjoy your day on the water and don’t be in a rush. Observing established no-wake zones protects marine wildlife as well as natural shorelines and plant life. Reduced speeds result in reduced consumption, saving you pain at the pump.
5. Keep it clean – plastic bags, fishing nets and plastic can holders can entrap or suffocate marine wildlife and soil the shoreline and beaches your fellow boaters want to enjoy. Store your trash securely and dispose of it when you get back to shore. Never discard plastics in the water.
6. Be our eyes and ears on the waterways – report hazardous chemical releases or illegal/suspicious activity to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8808. If you see something, say something.
Follow these tips and you will not only be protecting yourself and your family, but the environment, and maybe even your pocket book as well.