Green Practices for Clean Water

Marinas and boaters work together to protect water quality.

By Jack Klang, Quantum Sails Cruising Consultant


Lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, and Erie surround the state of Michigan, making it a boater’s paradise with more than 3,000 miles of shoreline and 90 harbors and marinas. Clean Marina flags now fly over 19 of those marinas. Thanks to the efforts of the Clean Marina Initiative, marinas across the country are working hard to preserve their aquatic treasures.


The Clean Marina Initiative strives to protect coastal waters by encouraging marina operators and recreational boaters to develop environmentally sound maintenance and operating procedures. Clean Marina programs vary in each state, but they all provide guidance, information, and technology assistance to help eliminate or reduce water pollution. 




Clean marinas are distinguished by their distinctive yellow and white flag, as well as a posted certificate. A certified marina is committed to maintaining clean water in order to provide a healthy environment for all boaters. While marinas do their part to keep our fishing and swimming waters contaminant-free, boaters can also get active to help make the water a safe place for everyone.


First, remember that everything taken aboard a boat should be returned to shore for proper disposal. Don’t toss anything overboard. Food, paper, and especially plastic should all be taken to shore. All certified Clean Marinas provide proper disposal facilities for liquids and solids.


Second, clean your boat carefully. The products you use will seriously impact the water quality. Use soaps that are phosphate free, biodegradable, and nontoxic, or try alternative products like vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and borax.


Third, properly maintain your boat. Be sure to collect and dispose of dust, paint chips, and residue that might contaminate the water. You can also switch to a less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze.


Clean water is important to all of us. The clear blue waters of the Great Lakes and beyond are in our care. Marinas were once part of the pollution problem. Now, Clean Marinas are part of the solution. It’s time for boaters to do our part to protect our precious waterways.


Clean Boating Tips 

– Select products that contain no warnings or that merely caution consumers

– Exchange material with other boaters to get rid of leftover material and products

– Recycle used oil, oil filters, antifreeze, and shrink wrap

– Wash frequently with a sponge or nonabrasive pad and plain water – a rinse will extend the life of your protective       coating by helping stop growth


More detailed information and a list of alternative cleaning products and tips are available online at





About the Author: Jack Klang is a Cruising Consultant for Quantum Sail Design Group. He has shared his vast experience with thousands of sailors through his seminars, a syndicated newspaper column, magazine feature articles, television and movie appearances. He is the author of  “Cruising with Quantum” a series of how-to articles covering all aspects of sailboat cruising as well as an instructional video. Jack is recognized as one of the country’s five best sailing speakers, appearing at boat shows across the country. For the past five decades, Jack has sailed the Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. He earned his first Coast Guard captain’s license at age 18 and has logged over 30,000 miles under sail as a cruiser, ASA instructor, charter captain and delivery skipper. 

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