Boating, like many other hobbies, found a new lease of life during the pandemic. Boating was for some time in decline, especially after the Great Recession hit. The activity could certainly be seen as something of a luxury when times were hard, but the lack of travel and social freedoms in 2020 saw boating bounce back.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports that about 100 million Americans go boating every year. With the abundance of lakes, rivers, waterways, and of course the coastline in the USA, there is room for everyone to join in.
However, this activity comes at a cost. Boats produce pollutants, and there are other factors to consider when it comes to the environment. So, how can people continue to enjoy boating but make it more eco-friendly?
What environmental concerns are there with boating?
Because of the nature of some boats, there are issues with pollutants and noise. Clearly, a rowboat or sailing boat isn’t going to damage the environment too badly, but motorboats are another story.
According to the EPA, boating only releases small amounts of pollutants into the water. When this is multiplied by the millions of boats that are used each year though, it adds up to an environmental concern.
Fuel spillages and leaks are an issue, and these can damage wildlife in and around lakes or rivers. Motorboats can also make a lot of noise and while this might not harm the environment, it is a form of pollution.
How can you make it more eco-friendly?
One of the better ways to reduce problems with motorboats is to switch from a two-stroke engine to a four-stroke model. These outboard motors are more fuel-efficient than two-strokes, and they are usually quieter. They employ better noise elimination than two-strokes so they are generally better all-around.
Other ways to make sure you are being environmentally friendly are to make sure all rubbish is secured on the boat. No waste should be allowed to end up in the water or on the banks. Also, any oil or fuel spillages should be mopped up straight away to stop any chance of it entering the water.
One simple way to help the environment, in general, is to use solar power where possible. Many people are now using solar panels for boats to charge their batteries and other devices while on the water.
How can you use solar power when boating?
Solar power is very popular these days with homeowners especially employing this alternative energy source. Solar panels can be used to power whole houses as well as provide outdoor lighting and security measures.
Campers are using solar-powered devices such as showers and night lights to reduce their carbon footprint. And, anyone interested in boating can also join in.
Boats use up a lot of power to run all their functions. While a rowboat is powered solely by humans, a modern motor-powered boat might have autopilot, GPS, radio systems, and lights. These all drain the battery system, so having an alternative power source is beneficial.
Solar panels can help to keep all the devices on a modern boat running without draining the batteries.
What areas of boating can you use solar power?
Solar power can be used to keep a boat running and all the modern functions that are contained within. However, solar power can go further than this.
Deck lights, emergency flashlights, bird repellers, and even water bottles, can be powered through in-built solar panels. Bilge pumps are available now with solar panels built in to power them. Music speakers can be solar-powered, as can coolers.
Perhaps one of the biggest areas that solar power could make a difference though is on houseboats. There are many essential items you need to live on a boat, and solar panels might be the biggest one.
Imagine being able to live life on the water, and not have to worry about needing to connect to the grid for electricity.
Why does solar energy help the environment?
While using solar power won’t eradicate the need for an outboard motor, it will reduce the amount of electricity used to charge up portable devices. Batteries won’t be needed to power flashlights, and the boat’s battery system will last longer.
By using solar power for onboard devices, the boat’s battery will not be used so much. This should lead to a longer life and therefore fewer replacements and waste.
By using less electricity, there will be less need for fossil fuels which pollute the environment. By having less need to replace batteries, there will be less harmful waste to be disposed of.
There are a number of portable power source options for boats, but solar power may be the most convenient one.
Solar energy is totally sustainable so therefore it is ideal for use in many circumstances, including being out on the open water.