Green boating highlights Newport show

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Boating industry leaders discuss the many steps people can take to keep the air and water cleaner

Boating industry leaders discuss the many steps people can take to keep the air and water cleaner

The 38th annual Newport International Boat Show kicked off on a decidedly eco-friendly note as representatives from various fields in the marine industry explained what each were doing to promote green practices and how that, in turn, can benefit the industry.

“The environment has been a hot topic this year, and we thought it would be appropriate to kick off the show this year with a discussion of what we can do,” says show director Nancy Piffard. “We wanted to gather the experts and see what they say and where we’re going.”

Roger Marshall, U.S. editor of The Yacht Report, served as moderator for the discussion between Rives Potts, general manager at Brewer Pilots Point Marina; Steve Shultz, president of Interlux; John Torgan of Narragansett Baykeeper; and Rueben Trane, president of Island Pilot Trawlers. Each guest had about 10 minutes to speak about their area of expertise and what they are doing to improve the environment and help enhance fuel efficiency in the sagging market. For instance, Trane says Island Pilot was slated to unveil its new DSe 12-meter hybrid electric “crossover trawler” featuring a two-hulled catamaran design in October at the Fort Lauderdale Show.

“We were hoping to premiere it for the Newport show, but there were some last-minute issues we had to sort out,” says Trane. “When we realized trawlers were burning 28 gallons an hour, it was time to look into something else. We didn’t want to go into sail, so we came up with this unique boat.”

According to Trane, the DSe 12 can run on a sunny day at 6 knots without using any diesel fuel. The 39-foot DSe 12 has an optimum range of 7.25 knots that can get 10 nautical miles per gallon, translating into a range of more than 1,000 nautical miles at 7 knots with no solar contribution, according to Trane. With the solar contribution, the boat is expected to have a range of 2,200 nautical miles at 6 knots. At press time, the boat was being built in Zhuhai City, China, and will include two staterooms, two heads, and a saloon.

“There is a lot of excitement about it,” says Trane. “We’re in the process of partnering up with other folks to expand the brand as much as possible.”

While boats are being made greener, the marinas they dock at are also being held to stricter codes, according to Potts.

“We disposed of waste properly and kept our marinas environmentally clean for a lot of years because we just thought it was the right thing to do,” says Potts. “About four or five years ago, groups like Save The Bay, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and government started to wake up and pay more attention to this.”

Potts says Brewer Yacht Yards was instrumental in putting out the book of guidelines for clean marinas through the Connecticut DEP.

“We formed a committee and met about once a month for three years,” says Potts. “We focused on making it easy enough to understand and included things all boaters could do to help the environment.”

Potts says there are discrepancies in the laws that they are trying to hammer out in the future to keep everyone on an even keel, so to speak.

“For example, one law regarding hazardous waste: boatyards cannot take a bucket of paint and put it in the dumpster, but a customer can because it is considered household waste,” says Potts. “It’s a little crazy. There are recycling and disposal areas for these materials that the customer should have to go to as well.”

Schultz, of Interlux, says paint, particularly anti-fouling bottom paint, has come a long way in the last few years, with much of the heavy metals being removed. The environmental policy of Interlux includes a promise to consumers to use science in the best possible way to create a paint that will do the job and protect the boat, but safeguard the environment.

“The most significant thing we can do is to reduce our carbon footprint,” says Shultz. “With a clean bottom, a boater can save up to 5 percent on fuel.”

For instance, Interlux’s Micron technology smoothes out the roughness of high copper bottom paints, reducing the resistance and drag on a boat. In addition, it allows for a more sustained release of biocide over time as the paint polishes and smoothes the surface, resulting in a lower and more efficient use of copper in the paint.

“We are ahead of the curve in the market, although every paint company has federal regulations to adhere to,” says Schultz. “I would certainly hope that other companies follow our direction.”

Torgan says while the DEP and EPA are in charge of making sure the industry stays green, the challenge is making sure consumers are doing likewise.

“A lot of people do their own work on a boat, and some are not aware of the proper environmental procedures,” says Torgan. “It is about educating them and raising the awareness. I would say 90 percent of the people I talk to are not obstinate and are very open.”

“A good industry needs good healthy water,” says Torgan. “Green boating technology and managing helps raise the value of coastal property. A clean marina will gain more customers, and it will help boaters in the long run.”