'Green' your boating in 2020


As a boating community we enjoy getting out on the water and experiencing the beautiful environment around us. We therefore play an important role in helping to protect our marine and inland waters and safeguard the wildlife and habitats with which we share our boating environment.

The Green Blue is the environmental programme of the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine, supporting the UK recreational boating community to be part of the solution by adopting and facilitating environmental good practice to minimise any impacts on our inland and coastal waters.

Whether you’re continuing your journey or want to make your first steps to making your boating more sustainable, here are some of The Green Blue’s top tips to help you #GoGreenBlue in 2020:

Engine Efficiency

An efficient engine is not only good for the environment, it will give you a better ride on the water and a less painful experience filling up at the pump!

  • Consider choosing an electric outboard engine or alternative fuels like biodiesel or biogas if possible. Explore The Green Blue’s new Business Directory at www.thegreenblue.org.uk to discover engine and fuel alternatives as well as other sustainable products.
  • Regularly check and service your engine. Fresh oil, clean spark plugs and dust free air-filters all help to lower fuel costs and emissions.
  • Get Planing – Whilst up on the plane the drag of the hull is reduced allowing a more efficient drive.

Boating Around Wildlife

As boaters we are always delighted to encounter wildlife when out on the water or when onshore. Be it dolphins riding the bow wave, a group of seals and their pups resting on a rocky outcrop or a Heron stood majestically amongst the reeds.

Follow these good practice tips to help protect the wildlife we share our waters with.

  • Slow Down - whether you spot wildlife in the distance or it pops up on the port side. Reduce your speed to no wake speed or put the engine in neutral if safe to do so. This allows you and the wildlife time to react and avoid any potential collisions.
  • Keep a consistent course – this allows wildlife to predict where you are going and move out of your way.
  • Distance – Use binoculars! Keep 100m (329ft) from wildlife in and on the water or on cliffs, beaches and rocky outcrops where wildlife might be feeding, resting or breeding.
  • Keep quiet – Shhhhhh! Lower voices and turn off any music, sound can be heard over longer distances on open water and many animals have more sensitive hearing than humans.

Anchoring with Care

Anchoring is an essential part of boating, whether you are stopping for lunch or sheltering from stormy conditions. Some important seabed habitats, particularly Seagrass and Maerl beds, may be sensitive to anchoring activities.

There are many simple things you can do when anchoring to both prevent damage to your boat and reduce your impact on the environment too.

  • Avoid anchoring altogether, locate and use existing moorings, pontoons or berth at a marina.
  • Choose an anchorage away from the most sensitive areas wherever possible (e.g. away from seagrass, reefs, shellfish beds, etc.). Use the JNCC interactive Marine Protected Area mapper to find out what protected species and habitats are located around the British coastline at jncc.gov.uk/mpa-mapper.

Deploy your anchor correctly to avoid drag: Use the appropriate length of chain and warp to help reduce scouring of the seabed; Even if you think the anchor is holding well, check it periodically to make sure it is not dragging. If your anchor is dragging, raise it and re-anchor.


While antifouling does a great job of keeping our hulls clean, and even has some environmental benefits such as improving fuel efficiency and preventing the spread of invasive non-native species, it is toxic to aquatic life. Some of the compounds found in these antifouls can accumulate in marine organisms, and can find their way into marine wildlife further up the food chain.

Boat owners can play a vital role in preventing concentrated paint residue and scrapings from entering the water. Follow the antifouling best practice guidance developed by the British Coating Federation (BCF), The Yacht Harbour Association (TYHA) and The Green Blue as part of the ‘Protect, Collect, Dispose’ initiative. Including:

  • Place a sheet of tarpaulin on the ground to protect and capture any unwanted drips, spills and paint debris.
  • Dispose of paint debris and any contaminated items in hazardous waste bins at your marina or local council’s recycling centre.
  • Choose a facility provider (marina, boatyard, club or centre) that has a filtered washdown area to capture contaminated run off and biofouling or encourage them to install one.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • Recycle as much waste on board as possible. With the increasing amount of mixed recycling facilities now available, you need only two bins on board.
  • Ask your facilities provider where their recycling bins are located or encourage them to provide them.
  • Think about recycling old equipment such as sails, rope, electronic kit and oilskins by offering them to your fellow boaters, boat jumbles or online rather than throwing it away.
  • Stamp out single-use plastics by refusing to purchase or use them. Choose more sustainable alternatives such as reusable cable ties or bungees, compostable waste bags and purchase items with little or no packaging.
  • Why not get involved with and encourage your local sailing club, centre and marine businesses to join forces and partner with a local litter clean organisation to help make your sailing environment cleaner and healthier. 

The Green Blue helps boat users, boating businesses, clubs and training centres to reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters, wildlife and habitats. The Green Blue raises awareness, supports practical projects, runs outreach activities and offers easy to follow advice to make boating in the UK as sustainable as possible. Visit the new Green Blue website www.thegreenblue.org.uk to find out more.