Fueling the fun: Boat care best practices

Here are a few green boating tips for the coming summer.

Hoorah, the boating season is upon us! No doubt before you head out for the first of many boat rides on Lake Windermere, you will be tuning up your vessel and checking that all parts are in good, safe working order. Read on to find a few simple techniques that will help ensure boat maintenance this summer also benefits the lake ecosystem.

Boat washing with environmentally friendly products

Common household items such as vinegar (to clean, disinfect, and bleach), baking soda (to deodorize and clean fibreglass), olive oil (to polish bright work) and tea tree oil (to lift tape adhesives and disinfect) are great cleaners that are safe to use on your boat. Check your local retailers for products that are non-toxic, non-petroleum based, biodegradable and phosphate-free. Remember to wash your boat on a surface where runoff will not flow directly into lakes or storm sewers.

Fueling your watercraft

Did you know the most common polluting event on the water is a spill of diesel fuel or gasoline while refueling? It is estimated that up to 1 billion litres of oil-derived fuel and lubricants enter North America’s waters every year from recreational boating. This is more than 15 times the 257,000 barrels of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in 1989.

A simple way to prevent fuel spills in the water is to use a funnel when fueling tanks and filling lubricants. Having cloths available to wipe up any overflows and drips also helps reduce water contamination. The numerous aquatic creatures and plants that make this ecologically and economically vital area of the Upper Columbia River their home will thank you for taking all the necessary precautions to keep petroleum from entering the water.

Checking for aquatic invasives

June is Take Action Month for Invasive Species across British Columbia, which means you are likely to hear the mantra “Clean, Drain, Dry” accompanying educational events throughout the valley offering insights into preventing the spread of invasive species, including the aquatic variety (such as Eurasian Milfoil).  Top of mind for many will be the threat of a westward movement of zebra mussels. Although invasive zebra mussels haven’t yet established further west than Lake Winnipeg, contaminated boats have been spotted and intercepted traveling as close as Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Make sure to check your boat for any hitchhikers before you travel!

Beneath The Surface is based on the principle that there is often more to know than what is visible from the “surface” of an issue. If there is something that concerns you about the lake and you want to get to the “bottom of it,” call Lake Windermere Ambassadors program co-ordinator Megan Peloso at 250-341-6898 or email info@lakeambassadors.ca and inspire the next column!