Ocean Advocates Week 3: Being a Green Boater

Happy July, Ocean Advocates!


We’ve now made it through two modules: single-use plastics and responsible waste management. Quick reminder to fill out our survey if you haven’t already.

Our next module is… green boating!

Green boating is the reason a lot of us are here – including Sailors for the Sea. As boaters, there’s a surprising amount of little things we can do to change our relationship with Long Island Sound and our environment. There’s even a Green Boating Guide that provides a deeper dive into the below. Highly encourage you to check it out.  Reach out with any questions, thoughts, prompts, or just to say hi. And, let us know if you try any of the below! We’d love to hear how it goes.



Green Boating looks different depending on which boat you’re on. Are you a dinghy sailor? An instructor? A cruiser? Depending on what category you fall under, there are different ways to prevent pollution, protect wildlife, spread the use of eco-friendly products, and reduce your overall impact. Being a Green Boater extends from making bigger choices, like using solar or wind power over fuel, to smaller gestures, like encouraging your friend to donate their old sail instead of throwing it away.   Everyday that we’re on the water, we can make small changes that, when widely adopted, amount to a big difference.



Did you know that your sunscreen might contain chemicals that are dangerous to our waterways? You have to be careful about what’s in your sunscreen and read the label closely. It’s dangerous enough that coastal communities around the world, such as USVI, Hawaii, Florida and parts of Mexico, have started to enact legislation to regulate the chemicals in sunscreen. Look out for ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate and petrolatum (or mineral oil), which are harmful to fish and the general marine environment. And, word on the street is that oxybenzone is not great for humans either. Detergents and soaps that you might use to wash your boat are also harmful when they run off into the Sound. They contain phosphate and nitrates, which deplete oxygen in the water and can promote harmful algae growth.


→ Activity idea: you can make a simple cleaning solution from household products like lemon, vinegar and baking soda. At the end of the season, encourage your friends to join you in making your own, environmentally-friendly soap for end-of-season cleaning.



Did you know that reducing power by as little as 10% from full throttle will save 20% in fuel costs? The unfortunate truth about being on a motorboat is that you’re a big contributor to pollution. But, we’re here to try and mitigate that:

  • Electric engines are an alternative to the traditional gas-loving, carbon-emitting engines. Electric engines are still in beta you could say, but there are several options on the market:

    • Torqeedo

    • The Ray Electric Outboards, Inc.

    • Elco Motor Yachts

    • Oceanvolt

  • Biodiesel is also an alternative to help you avoid traditional diesel, as it’s a renewable, non-toxic, clean-burning fuel. It reduces GHG emissions by 57-86% compared to petroleum diesel, according to the EPA.

    • Find biodiesel in your area here!

  • Certain power boats are more fuel efficient than others, like RIBs. No matter what though, try to avoid idling if you’re able to turn off your engine while on the race course.

  • It sounds obvious, but don’t spill while refueling. Even a small slip and a fleeting mistake are extremely dangerous to marine life.

    • There are oil-absorbent socks/pads/pillows that you can use just in case a spill does occur. It’s a good idea to have some on board.

  • Fun fact: Outboard motors have come a long way in the last decade. Previously, the way outboards were designed led them to lose 20-30% of their fuel, releasing it directly into the water and air. Now, all manufacturers have to meet EPA-enacted emissions standards.



If you have a boat, you no doubt are familiar with the amount of maintenance required. Next time you’re working on your boat, consider a few ways to make it more sustainable overall.

  • Switch to renewable energy: Obviously sailing under wind power is a great way to save energy and the fuel required to idle and charge batteries. But it won’t for all electrical uses onboard. Wind, solar and hydro-powered generators are all options for establishing a renewable energy system on your boat. See here for more information!

  • Be mindful of bottom paint! Everything below the waterline of your boat is part of the marine ecosystem! In a frustrating catch-22, the paints often used to abate unwelcome growth of algae, slime, seaweed, barnacle or mussels are also copper-based and not great for the marine environment. Here are two viable alternatives that are less toxic and actually last longer than copper paint:

  • Stop. using. shrinkwrap. Shrinkwrap to winterize a 35’ boat is equivalent to 4,000 single-use plastic water bottles. Try a reusable canvas cover instead!

  • Want to learn more about black and gray water, anchoring, greening your galley, etc? Read up here!

Share with your communities, tag us on Instagram, let us know how you’re doing!

-Ocean Advocates @JSAofLIS


Article contributed by Megan Grapengeter-Rudnick: Megan is a life long sailor who grew up sailing at Noroton YC and was an instructor at Riverside YC for one summer. She now races J/70s, IC37s and Viper 640s on the weekends. Megan is a volunteer leader with Sailors of the Sea because she knows healthy oceans are key to mitigating climate change and believes sailors have a unique responsibility to protect their second home.