Environmental Considerations

RBC Environmental Dos and Don’ts

Resources Provided for the Club Members

  • Trash barrels
  • Spill Kit (in the labeled box near the Heritage building)
  • Oil and oil filter disposal at the Renforth Auto Centre 847-8271 (A special thanks to Chris Northup!)
  • Information, like these tips! For more, see the materials in the Environmental information rack in the Club House.

General Tips

  • Less is more! Use less fuel! Use less paint! Buy a boat that fits your needs! Critically look at what you require and see if you can find ways to be more effective with what you have or think you will need!
  • Use environmentally friendly products. Try to find alternatives for any product that requires you to wear rubber gloves or a protective mask. Anything that hurts you will hurt the environment!
  • Spread the word! Pass along any of the tips you see here along to other boaters. Also provide the Environment Committee with any feedback you receive from other boaters!
  • Make your boat last!
  • The longer they last, the fewer you will need. This puts less strain on our precious environmental resources… as well as your pocketbook!

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

We want you to go home safe whether your boating experience is care-free cruising on the water or preparing the boat for launch or winter lay-up. Boatyard work is where most boats become can become injured.

  • always wear safety glasses when:
    • grinding
    • painting
    • pressure washing
  • always use a dust mask/filter for sanding glass hulls. Use the 99% rated filters. If you can smell the dust, you need a better filter!
  • always use an organic vapor cartridge mask when mixing and applying resin, epoxy or anti-fouling. Your cartridge needs to be changed if you can smell the material!
  • wear latex, vinyl or nitrile gloves when handling resin or epoxy. Wear a barrier crème for extra protection in case your gloves rip.
  • Allergic reactions and dermatitis
  • can occur over longer periods of exposure to epoxy or resin. But when you have an allergy …it is too late! . You can never work with or be near the material again for the rest of your life! Don’t breathe the material or get it on your skin. If you do get it on your skin, wash it off promptly!

  • Consider wearing disposable clothing. You don’t want toxic epoxy or resin dust getting mixed into the family wash!


Environmentally responsible seamanship means operating your boat so it is not exposed to situations that will require unreasonable repair or replacement. Repairs and replacement consume not only money … they consume additional environmental resources. In the worst cases, poor seamanship or stewardship of the boat may put the boat on the bottom or take a life!

Slow down when the water becomes choppy. Slamming through the whitecaps may be exciting but very few boats are built to take it on a continuing basis. The following can start to happen:

  • Bulkheads in Fiberglas boats can start to crack and give way
  • “Panting” of over-loaded Fiberglas hulls can cause delamination of the skins. Above the waterline most Fiberglas hulls consist of a wood core with skins of Fiberglas on either side. Delamination is a very expensive problem to fix. It takes only one or two seasons of wave slamming to completely wreck a modern cruiser! How would you feel when the surveyor tells you that your brand new boat is a “write-off”?
  • Wood hulls have a lot of flex so can take a lot of punishment. But they too have their limits. Planked hulls can spring a seam. Rough handling of a wood boat can cause enough leakage that your pumps cannot keep up.

Don’t hit the dock (or anything else). Practice your dock approaches so only your fenders gently nudge the wharf. Don’t rely on reverse gear to stop you. One day you will put it in reverse and you won’t have it! Slow down as you approach the dock. Hitting the dock can punch holes in your hull. Less severe contact can cause stiffening stringers to separate from the hull to deck joint to part Company.

Don’t make waves. Watch where you are! A large wake can cause shoreline erosion. A violent wake can upset boats, objects and people!


  • Keep your boat, the wharf, the shore and the club looking shipshape. For piece of trash you dispose of, find another and dispose of them in the bins provided by your club! Do your part …and more than your share! That we can be sure we are covered.
  • Be water wise! Do not store fuels, solvents or chemicals on or near the water.


  • Clean more frequently. Use mild soap and water. That way you will avoid having to use harsh chemicals that are required when the grime is allowed to build up.
  • Try vinegar or vinegar in water as a substitute for most of your cleaning applications.

Fuel Conservation

Know your boat! You should know what engine RPM gives you the best economic cruising speed. Check your operating manual. Check the Internet for performance reports on boats like yours. Or experiment by doing a long run and carefully gauging your fuel tank. Planing and semi-displacement powerboats get their best fuel economy (most Miles Per Gallon) going either dead slow or up on plane. The two speeds tend to give very similar economies so it does not use any more fuel to go fast (within reason)!

Sailboats should have auxiliaries or outboards sized for the hull length. The right size will push the boat along at hull speed. Too big just means you are making waves and pushing water… plus using a lot more fuel than needed!

Fuel Storage and Filling Tanks

    • keep a small container of fuel absorbent (or Kitty Litter) for any spills. Dispose of the absorbent in your household garbage.
    • Place an absorbent pad or cup under any fuel filter or connection to catch spills
    • do not store portable fuel containers at the club. Fuel must only be kept in the boat’s fuel tanks.
    • use an absorbent fuel “donut” around the boat fill nozzle to catch any spilled fuel during refueling

Inboard Engines

    • maintain it and tune it so it performs with a minimum of exhaust
    • check the exhaust routinely. Blue exhaust means you are burning oil, white exhaust can mean you likely have a cooling water leak
    • install an oil drip pan below your engine so you can catch and dispose of oil before it gets into the bilge.
    • dispose of oil filters properly at the Renforth Auto Center.
    • dispose of your used oil at the Renforth Auto Center. Used oil is a toxic hazardous waste. It usually contains heavy metals, chemicals and carcinogens. But it can be recycled if it is kept free of other waste liquids such as gasoline, diesel, antifreeze, etc.
    • check your oil dipstick before every trip. Crème colored oil means water is getting into the oil system. This usually means a leaking head gasket or worse … a crack in the block! Do not use the engine! Get a tow, take off the heads and find out where the water is coming in! Water in the oil can quickly wreck an engine!

Outboard Engines (2 cycle)

  • always use the recommended 2 cycle oil and mix it in the correct quantities
  • be extra careful when refueling. Avoid fuel spills and clean them up with absorbent materials if you do have a spill!
  • check your wake for any unusual amounts of oil
  • check and adjust your rich/lean settings to minimize the amount of unburned oil
  • buy a 4-cycle engine next time you have the chance!


  • check all hydraulic lines, cylinders and reservoirs for leaks. These may be part of:
    • steering gear
    • trim tabs
    • stern drive assemblies


  • use only propylene glycol based antifreeze in your plumbing and engine cooling system. It is less toxic and unlikely to cause the boatyard dogs, cats and squirrels to keel over! Do not use ethylene glycol.
  • have a helper on the outside of the hull when flushing the head or other plumbing with antifreeze. The less coming out of the drains the better!

Bilge and Bilge Pumps

  • install one or more absorbent pads in the bilge that are designed to absorb oil or fuel. You can wring the oil/fuel out of some pads and re-use them. Buy only the pads, which have the absorbent inside a synthetic cloth or mesh bag. Do not buy bags made of cotton cloth. These easily rip and disperse the absorbent all around the bilge and can plug your bilge pump. Dispose contaminated pads in your household garbage.
  • have two bilge pumps with separate power sources, switches and discharge plumbing. You would be surprised at the number of boats that sink when the only bilge pump fails!
  • check your bilge water surface and your pump discharge regularly. If your water or discharge has a rainbow sheen, find and eliminate the source of contamination. As captain of your vessel you are responsible for everything coming out of the bilges!


  • remove your batteries to prevent them freezing (and bursting) in the winter or

have a charging system to keep them regularly charged

  • dispose of old batteries at the nearest automotive battery centre
  • keep a small supply of baking soda on hand so you can neutralize a battery acid spill. Clean the tops of your batteries with a toothbrush soaked in baking soda and water

Charging Systems

  • consider switching to solar or wind power instead of using a generator or shore power. The less fuel we use, the less we contaminate the air. Do your part to generate power using a renewable resource.


  • Maintain your boat! The longer it lasts, the fewer boats you will need! You’ll enjoy it more knowing it is in good shape for you …and the next owner!
  • For storage in excess of a few hours, keep oily rags in a closed metal container. Be wary of the risk of spontaneous combustion! Oily rags or any other oily organic cloth can self-ignite.
  • Dispose of oily rags in your household garbage.

Fiberglas Hulls

Fiberglas is a plastic. In many ways it is not much different than synthetic line or the webbing in your lawn chair. Given sun and time, it will break down and disintegrate. Fiberglas hulls require protection from the sun if they are going to last a long time. You can achieve this by:

  • cleaning and applying an annual polish with a UV protectant or stabilizer
  • painting it with paints designed for Fiberglas such as Awl-Grip.
  • Keeping the boat in the shade as much as possible or covering it up. (Also a good idea for the crew!)

If you have a choice of hull paint, use white or the lighter shades. They heat up less in the sun and will protect the hull longer. Especially avoid black. You can fry eggs on a black hull in mid-summer! Bad for the boat and it will boil the crew below! Minimize the use of blue or red.

Even when not exposed to sunlight, the plastic is slowly changing. The plasticizing agents in the resin slowly off-gas into the atmosphere. That is why ventilation is very important. Especially with new boats where the concentration of volatiles can build up quite fast. Some of the crew may become ill on a new boat if ventilation is not adequate to dissipate the plasticizer.

Special care must be taken below the water line. Contrary to popular belief, gel-coat and Fiberglas resin is not 100% watertight. Water can and does wick or permeate into the hull. Deadly in our climate with all our freeze-thaw cycles. Water trapped in the Fiberglas will expand on freezing and further increase the ability of water to penetrate. This leads to osmotic blistering or hull delamination. Slow down or stop this process by:

  • Applying an annual wax coat to the bottom
  • Applying a barrier coat. This is usually an epoxy formulation. Epoxy is much more resistant to water than Fiberglas resin

Hull Surface Preparation

  • use biodegradable cleansers and teak cleaners. Traditional teak cleaners are caustic. Use mild soap, a scrub brush and a water wash down instead.
  • use bag type or dustless sanders
  • use tarps or disposable sheeting to catch all scrapings, debris or drips. Don’t let it get in the gravel or in the water!
  • vacuum, sweep or clean your tarps as you go. Don’t let the wind or rain spread it around. Put the debris in the club trash bins.

Hull Painting

  • limit the amount of open solvents or paints to one gallon or less
  • always mix paints and epoxy over a tarp, drip sheet or pan
  • always use a drip pan or drop cloth
  • be wary of sanding glass or epoxy surfaces. The dust is toxic! Protect yourself
    • by spreading it on an old board or your cradle!
    • carefully resealing the paint can and keeping it for use next year
  • spray painting with power or compressed air is not allowed in the club boatyard.
  • Aerosol bombs may be used for touch-ups provided the wind is light. You take full responsibility for any paint landing on your neighbour’s boat!

  • always cover glass resin with gel coat or an epoxy barrier coat. Glass resin is not watertight and you will eventually get the “pox” !
  • always paint your epoxy surfaces with a sunlight resistant coating. Epoxy will deteriorate into a toxic dust without a sun resistant barrier.
  • use up remaining paint by:
  • let empty paint cans dry before putting them in the trash. Do not put liquid paint into the trash!


This is nasty stuff designed to kill living organisms. But we need it to maintain efficient hull speed. Too much “garden” growing on the underside increases fuel consumption. Slower speeds can develop into a safety issue for long distance cruisers. Apply anti-fouling only where it is needed.

The amount you need depends on the type of boat and how often it is used. Powerboats with planing hulls in our waters with regular use (two or more times a week) do not normally need a lot of anti-fouling. Getting the boat up on plane is similar to pressure washing your hull. But if you leave your boat idle for weeks at a time, you will need anti-fouling.

Displacement power or sailboats don’t move fast enough to provide the “pressure washing” action to remove slime and sea creatures. The slower hulls do experience more loss of anti-fouling in areas where water movement is more turbulent. Annual anti-fouling may be required in certain areas:

  • near the bow
  • at or near the waterline
  • near the propeller
  • rudder

The general hull area may need anti-fouling every second or third year. Experiment to see what works for you! The less anti-fouling you use the better!

Tributyltin (TBT) based anti-fouling paint is not permitted at the club. Read the paint can label! unless you are using it for:

  • an aluminum hull or
  • lower drive of outboards or
  • I/O drives

Do not use copper based anti-fouling on aluminum hulls or equipment! Again read the paint can label! You will destroy your aluminum parts due to galvanic reaction with the copper!

Avoid breathing in the fumes from fresh anti-fouling. Use a breathing mask with organic vapor cartridges. Use a paint extension roller for painting under the hull. Don’t get underneath where the stuff can drip on you and where the concentration of fumes is higher. Don’t start working above the anti-fouling for at least a day. Some of the fumes rise up and can make you ill.

Underwater Maintenance

  • Scrubbing and use of abrasive devices should be used only on hulls with hard anti-fouling Stop if you see colored anti-fouling particles rising to the surface. Soft painted hulls should be gently sponged. Clean the underwater hull more frequently with less aggressive techniques. Ablative paints will last longer and you will be kinder to the environment.

Lines and Gear

All synthetic plastic lines and gear (including sails) deteriorate in the sunlight. Make them last longer by:

  • Keeping them out of the sun
  • Applying sun block to lines that must be left in the sun. Lines smeared with UV 45 rated suntan lotion will last a lot longer than those that are untreated.

Spills or Other Environmental Issues

Report them immediately to the Executive or any member of the Environment Committee. The sooner we know about it, the sooner we can bring the proper resources to help!


We welcome new tips and ideas! Please submit them to the Yard Committee! Chair

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