As you’re preparing your boat for the season, follow this simple advice from The Green Blue to make your craft more eco-friendly…

Engine Efficiency

An efficient engine is good for the environment but will also give you a better ride and a less painful experience filling up at the pump!

  • Consider choosing an electric outboard engine or alternative fuels such as biodiesel or biogas. Regularly check and service your engine. Fresh oil, clean spark plugs and dustfree air filters all help to lower fuel costs and emissions.
  • While up on the plane the drag of the hull is reduced allowing a more efficient drive.

2 Antifouling

While antifouling does a great job of keeping hulls clean, and even has some environmental benefits such as improving fuel efficiency, it’s toxic to aquatic life. Some of the compounds in antifouling can get into the marine food chain. Boat owners can play a vital role in preventing concentrated paint residue and scrapings from entering the water, and these tips will help:

  • Place a sheet of tarpaulin on the ground to capture any unwanted drips, spills and paint debris.
  • Dispose of paint debris and any contaminated items in hazardous waste bins at your marina or local council’s recycling centre.
  • Choose a facility provider (marina, boatyard, club or centre) that has a filtered wash-down area to capture contaminated run-off and biofouling or encourage them to install one.

3 Oil and Fuel

Oil and fuel can enter the water in a number of ways, and a small proportion of this comes from the recreational boating sector. Oil and fuel contain hydrocarbons and heavy metals that not only affect human health but can also seriously damage the aquatic environment.

  • Check the engine bilge for oil before pumping and use an absorbent sock to remove oil and fuel in the bilge.
  • Install an in-line bilge filter to remove oil automatically when pumping out. Then dispose of collected oil in onshore hazardous waste facilities.
  • Use a fuel collar over fuel nozzles to absorb fuel ‘blowback’ up the fuel line and to catch drips when moving the nozzle across the deck.
  • Buy a spill kit to take care of any spills onboard, onshore or into the water.

4 Cleaning

Products used for cleaning and maintenance by berthholders and marina visitors have an impact on pollution levels in marinas. Cleaners used on hulls and decks often contain microplastics, chlorine, ammonia, potassium hydroxide and solvents, all potentially harmful to the aquatic environment.

  • Waxing your hull keeps you fuel efficient and reduces the need for cleaning products over the season.
  • When cleaning your boat on the water it’s recommended that you use fresh water only.
  • Avoid cleaning products that contain plastic microbeads, and steer clear of products containing ‘polyethylene’. Also avoid chlorine and bleach, which are toxic to flora and fauna, and phosphates, which encourage algal growth. Look for eco-friendly alternatives with natural ingredients instead.

5 Energy Use

Everything has a carbon footprint. But by introducing a few simple, low-cost measures you could save as much as 20% on your boating-related energy bills.

  • Consider the alternatives such as electric and bio-diesel engines, water lubricated stern glands, and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and varnishes.
  • Try to use only FSC-certified wood from responsibly managed forests.
  • Don’t leave the hose running unnecessarily when filling up your water tanks or washing down your boat.
  • Keep your hull clean, your engine running efficiently with regular servicing, and trim the engine – these will all help to minimise fuel consumption.
  • Install tap aerators wherever possible, as these can reduce the amount of water used by up to 80%.

The Green Blue is a joint environment programme between the RYA and British Marine to encourage a more sustainable recreational boating sector. To find out more about The Green Blue and for more eco advice visit