Boating in a changing climate

Coastline of Sooke, BC obscured by smoke and haze from the Oregon wildfires 2020 credit: © Adam - Adobe Stock

The impacts of climate change are becoming more prevalent and, as boaters, we need to be prepared for the consequences out on the water.

As extreme weather events increase, boaters are more frequently encountering and having to navigate drought-depleted waterways, fires, changing weather patterns, severe wind storms, atmospheric rivers, and floods.

We need to expect and be more prepared than ever for the unexpected, and one way to do that is to incorporate detailed contingency plans into trip planning. This way, we’re not surprised should we encounter damage to boating infrastructure, such as marinas, breakwaters, pumpouts and boat launches, or limited access to potable water.

We can also proactively and intentionally reduce our contributions to climate change while boating by taking measures to minimize emissions from our watercraft.

Here are four simple ways to minimize your vessel’s emissions:

  1. Keep your engine well tuned

    Wet and salty environments are tough on engines and wiring. Well tuned engines are more fuel efficient, and preventative maintenance can reduce operating costs in the long run. Remember that tune ups are needed if you’ve used your boat a lot, or if it’s left to sit.

  2. Eliminate excess weight

    You’ll go farther on a tank of fuel by getting rid of unnecessary weight onboard – but don’t ever cut corners on safety equipment and a prudent amount of contingency supplies.

  3. Switch to an electric or hybrid engine

    In addition to considering the emissions and fuel consumption of combustion engines, you may want to make the switch to electric or hybrid motors when it’s time for a new system.

  4. Plan your trip

    Map out fuel efficient routes, taking into consideration tides, currents and weather. Also consider whether any of your destinations or infrastructure are unavailable due to the impact of extreme weather. Your favourite marina may have damaged docks, no water or pumpout service, and the peaceful bay where you were planning to anchor may be experiencing a fire, flood, or winds from an unexpected direction.

Don’t rely on luck for the success of your next cruise! Trip planning and preparation are crucial to an enjoyable and safe time on the water.

Learn more

Georgia Strait Alliance’s Clean Marine BC Clean Boating and Marina Eco-certification programs help to reduce the impacts of recreational boating on the environment. Find facilities, services and information on boating best practices to help you plan your next adventure in a way that will also help protect the Salish Sea and beyond.

Image: Coastline of Sooke, BC obscured by smoke and haze from the Oregon wildfires 2020.
Credit: © Adam – Adobe Stock

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