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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.
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.