Make a difference while enjoying the waterways
Boating in the Capital Region and the surrounding areas of New York State has been a long time tradition. These waterways are used for recreation and commercial purposes that cater to the weekend boater, summer lock traveler, tug boat captain and mill operator. With such diverse uses of common waterways, environmental and water quality issues are subject to increasing attention and they have been brought to the surface.
Currently, on the Hudson River, we have seen continued dredging efforts to rid the river bottom of PCB’s and other environmentally harmful material. Further north, in Lake George, there is now mandatory hull inspections for every boat before launch in an effort to contain the spread of aquatic invasive species. The migration of aquatic invasive species can be seen from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes to the NYS canals and waterways.
Water pollution and invasive species issues are not meant to deter boaters, but rather educate and raise awareness among them. The goal is to raise enough awareness so that boaters will understand the cause of these issues and hopefully provide options that help preserve and protect NYS waterways so we can continue to enjoy boating for years to come. Simply put, how can the average NYS and Capital Region boater make a difference?
There are several good practices that all boaters can do to help maintain our waterways
- Maintain your boat. Check for leaky fuel lines and for oil leakage and always perform off-season maintenance/storage so your engine is running in top form. This will help reduce excessive fuel burn and emissions of greenhouse gases.
- Maintain your hull and trailer. Clean your hull and trailer thoroughly at the end of every season and/or after use depending on the quality of water and/or visible signs of organic matter attached to the boat or trailer. This will help reduce the transfer of aquatic invasive species and prolong the life of your boat and trailer. Traditionally, boat hulls are left with the factory finish or are painted with bottom paint.
- Know what’s on your hull.
a. Be aware of invasive species and other marine growth/organisms that can attach to your hull. Familiarize yourself with what these look like as this will help inform yourself and lake/river stewards and DEC officers of the migration of invasive species and high concentration areas. Some of the more common invasive species are:
- Water Chestnut
- Hydrilla & Millfoil
- Didymo (rock snot)
- Asian Clam
- Zeebra Mussel
- Spiny Water Flea
b. Some boats are purchased with anti-fouling bottom paint on them. If your boat is in a fresh-water environment this is not necessary and will do more harm than good. Anti-fouling bottom paints add drag to a hull which decreases performance and increases fuel consumption, therefore the emission of greenhouse gasses. Also, the anti-fouling components of such bottom paints are very destructive to the marine environment and are designed to flake off with an extremely long decomposition rate.
Having suggested this, most bottom paints are designed to actively kill organic matter by using high concentrations of harmful biocides, pesticides and heavy metals. After decades of use, ports, harbors and marinas in rivers, lakes and oceans have seen a steady decrease in aquatic life from the effect of such substances. This is a direct result of the over-use of environmentally harmful bottom paints on boat hulls. Boaters use bottom paints because they have been very effective at deterring marine growth. However, the cons have started to outweigh the pros and the limelight has been shed on these issues just as the market has begun the shift towards ‘eco-responsible’.
From kayaks to cargo ships, the education and awareness of the positives and negatives of our marine environments, and our effect on them, is what will lead the progression to a more sustainable boating culture.
For more information on HullSpeed® coatings and how HullSpeed® can help sustain and improve NYS waterways and NYS boating, please visit www.hullspeed.us
One product that is helping to make that shift and is manufactured in Saratoga Springs is HullSpeed® Performance Marine Coatings. HullSpeed® coatings are a new and unique water-based bottom paint that does not contain biocides, pesticides or heavy metals. HullSpeed® coatings are designed to improve hull durability/longevity, fuel economy, speed, ease of hull cleaning, easier launching/loading and the decreased adhesion of aquatic invasive species. HullSpeed® coatings are easy to apply and are eco-friendly through shipment from the factory, through application, in-water use, and end-of-season cleaning. HullSpeed® coatings have been making boat hulls more efficient for over 10 years. Established in 2002 with origins in the high performance yacht racing markets, HullSpeed® technology has found uses in a wide range of markets and industries. Founded by Greenfield Mfg., Inc., a specialty chemical manufacturing company, HullSpeed® coatings are applicable within, but not limited to: the recreational, performance, sport fishing, commercial, patrol, and military marine markets, as well as the industrial, construction, shipping, and energy industries.