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Let’s get one thing straight, right off the top: I am no ex­pert in ecol­ogy, cli­mate change, ris­ing seas, re­ced­ing ice, or green-en­ergy ad­vance­ments. I have, at best, an abom­inable un­der­stand­ing of chem­istry. But there are two aspects that in­trigue me about green boat­ing. One has to do with push­ing to find al­ter­na­tives to burn­ing oil for power and propul­sion, and the other has to do with keep­ing our wa­ter­ways cleaner and safer.

Ad­dress­ing the first point: Take a few min­utes and watch the sea trial footage posted by Sym­phony Boats of their Six1 Con­duc­tor speed­boat (avail­able at www.pas­sage­maker.com un­der Ben El­li­son’s syn­di­cated Panbo blog or at www.sym­pho­ny­boats.com). The video is re­mark­able for what is miss­ing: namely, any noise what­so­ever.

When the run­about skips by near­est to the cam­era’s mi­cro­phone in­put at 23 knots, the only thing au­di­ble (be­sides the cheer­ing of the crowd) is the slap of wa­ter on wood and the faint thrash of prop wash. For those who think they would miss the throaty, Har­ley-David­son gur­gle of com­bus­tion, my ad­vice, again, is to watch the video.

To­wards the scond point, there is one thing we can all do to im­prove the lakes, rivers, and oceans upon which we boat. Here in the Pa­cific Northwest, re­cy­cling is de rigueur, in other less vig­i­lant places I’ve vis­ited, re­cy­cling any­thing be­yond alu­minum beer cans is con­sid­ered pro­gres­sive think­ing, il­lus­trat­ing that green prac­tices, like any­thing else, have to be put into re­gional frame­work. Un-re­cy­cled plas­tics, like those that float at sea and break down into mi­cro-plas­tics un­der lengthy doses of ul­travi­o­let light, will con­tinue to present a ma­jor eco­log­i­cal threat.

Bro­ken down mi­cro-plas­tics leech chem­i­cals into the seas, cre­at­ing an im­mea­sur­able im­pact on marine life. Per­haps even worse, larger pieces of plas­tic can stran­gle or poi­son larger an­i­mals on both land and sea as well, like this un­for­tu­nate al­ba­tross doc­u­mented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice. This is the sum­mary of a small slice of the im­pact that plas­tics have on wildlife, ac­cord­ing to www.green­facts.org:

“In­ter­ac­tions of large plas­tic items with an­i­mals such as seabirds, marine mam­mals and tur­tles through en­tan­gle­ment or in­ges­tion are rel­a­tively well known, but the non-lethal im­pacts on in­di­vid­u­als and pop­u­la­tions are un­clear. Even less is known about the po­ten­tial im­pacts of mi­cro-plas­tics on a wide range of smaller or­gan­isms, ex­posed to var­i­ous par­ti­cle sizes and chem­i­cal con­stituents.”

The Ocean Cleanup Pro­ject is the non-profit brain­child of a Dutch teenager who aims to re­duce mil­lions of tons of plas­tic from the world’s most af­fected re­gions. In­spi­ra­tion for his com­pany came af­ter snorke­l­ing in Greece, when he swam among as much sea life as plas­tic shop­ping bags.

Time will tell if his plas­tics-re­mov­ing in­ven­tion will work cost-ef­fec­tively, but hey, it’s a start. It’s also a les­son to all of us to do our part—as minis­cule as it may be—to pre­vent it from wors­en­ing.

On a smaller scale, it all starts with each of us. A lit­tle ef­fort can do end­less good for your fa­vorite cruis­ing grounds.

Happy cruis­ing,

Jim: Thank you for your ob­ser­va­tions and com­ments. You are cor­rect that dis­eases caused by water­borne path­o­genic micro­organ­isms can pose a very se­ri­ous risk. Luck­ily, in the use of mod­ern wa­ter­mak­ers such as those men­tioned, po­ten­tially haz­ardous micro­organ­isms can­not sur­vive the 600 to 800 psi of pres­sure typ­i­cally re­quired to force wa­ter through the fil­tra­tion mem­brane.

This par­tic­u­lar ar­ti­cle was in­tended to help boaters de­cide whether a wa­ter­maker would be ap­pro­pri­ate for their cruis­ing needs, as well as pro­vid­ing an up­date on the lat­est tech­nolo­gies em­ployed in the in­dus­try. You raise an ex­cel­lent point, and a fu­ture piece on the proper use of wa­ter­mak­ers would cer­tainly in­clude ad­vice re­gard­ing the qual­ity of wa­ter in which they can safely be used.

For what it’s worth, my gen­eral rule of thumb is: If I wouldn’t swim in it, I cer­tainly won’t at­tempt to make drink­ing wa­ter from it.— Bob Ar­ring­ton


I wanted to point out a cor­rec­tion to a photo cap­tion in the ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Eco Chal­lenge,” which ap­peared in March 2016 by Capt. Peter Wil­cox. The pic­ture on pages 50 and 51 shows a de­scrip­tion of Port Townsend. This pic­ture was ac­tu­ally taken in Olympia.

I only want to point it out be­cause I am a proud Olympia na­tive boater. Olympia is a won­der­ful desti­na­tion that both needs and de­serves more boater at­ten­tion and vis­i­tors. Come see it for your­self.

Al­ba­tross at Mid­way Atoll Refuge


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