Earth Day tips for boaters

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With Earth Day on Thursday, the BoatU.S. Foundation offers five clean boating tips to improve stewardship of the waterways without breaking your bank.

1. When you wash your boat, will so-called "environmentally friendly" boat cleaners get the job done? You can learn which products scored the highest - both in effectiveness and ecology - in BoatU.S. Foundation cleaning products tests. View a series of short videos as well as a full report, "Foundation Findings No. 47 - Green Cleaners Testing," at www.BoatUS.com/foundation/findings/47.

2. If you trailer your boat to different waterways each summer, leave the uninvited aquatic hitchhikers at home by ensuring it is cleaned thoroughly (including any tackle or water-sports gear) and allow it to dry completely before splashing in a different lake or river. This will help ensure any invasive species are not transported to invade new habitat.

3. Lighten the load. Remove any unnecessary gear or equipment from your boat to improve fuel economy. For boats kept in the water, keep the hull and running gear free of marine growth that can sap fuel efficiency. An engine tune up in the spring can also pay for itself over the course of the summer.

4. Stash your trash. Make a rule aboard your boat that nothing gets thrown overboard, including partially eaten food and cigarette butts. Be especially vigilant with plastic bags that can take flight under way and later kill marine life when ingested. Discard butts in special containers and recycle fishing line.

5. Fill her up - without spilling a drop. Learn about safe and clean refueling tips, such as the use of absorbent pads and "donuts," or learn how to not overfill your boat's gas tank, all at www.helpstopthedrops.com.