Boating and water-based activities have been one of the things to come out of the pandemic on top. Just as a bicycle, guitar, and ukulele sales have soared, so have boat sales.
In March 2021, CNBC reported on how boat manufacturers were struggling to keep up with demand as the activity found a new lease of life. No doubt people were fed up with being in lockdowns and having their movements restricted in 2020, and now waterways are attracting more people than ever.
Unfortunately, as with many of the world’s favourite hobbies and activities, there is an environmental cost. Spending a few hours on the Thames or around the UK’s coastline might not seem problematic, but there are some problems that need addressing.
How then, can you take part in what is one of the most popular hobbies now, without harming the environment around you?
Why is boating so popular now?
As you have just read, the pandemic has definitely had some effect on how people are living their lives now. A newfound appreciation of the outdoors certainly seems true, and newly adopted hobbies seem to bear this out.
Vegetable gardens have taken hold all across the UK. Bicycle sales have gone up as people strive to spend more time outside. And, boats are playing a bigger part in many people’s lives.
There are now more boats on canals and rivers than in the 18th century. However, it isn’t only the pandemic that is causing many to take to the waters. Aside from finding a new hobby, many are choosing to actually live on rivers and canals across the nation.
So, the new love of boating can be put down to wanting to find a new hobby, be that recreational or sporting, and also for a complete lifestyle change.
How can you get involved in boating?
If you are keen to get involved in boating then the easiest way would be to find a local club of some sort. There are plenty of clubs for yachting, rowing, and kayaking, around the country. There are also boat rental businesses on lakes and rivers in Britain.
If you want to take this activity even more seriously, then you can buy your own vessel. The cost of this would vary depending on what type of boat you would require, and you would need a motor too possibly. There are many online retailers and people who can advise in this area, and Outboard Occasions deal with outboard motors, while others specialise in actual boats.
Before you get started though, there are those environmental matters to be worried about. After all, you want to enjoy the water in the future, not just for today.
What are the problems with many people boating?
Getting out in the open air should be applauded, and boating can be a very sociable activity too. The problem lies in the type of boating that some take part in, and the equipment that is used.
When you start getting involved in boating you may find that some rivers or waterways in your area only allow certain types of vessels on them. There are places where no motorboats are allowed due to the issues that can arise.
If you are concerned about the damage that boating can do, then ScienceDirect lists a range of low to high-impact environmental issues caused by boats and marinas.
These range from very minor problems, to ones that can cause serious ecological damage. These are some of the boating problems today:
- Oil and fuel spills
- Noise pollution
- The fuel efficiency of motors
- Greywater discharge
- Air pollution
- Damage to wildlife, flora, and fauna
Just a small fuel spill can cause a lot of problems for the wildlife in a lake. Noise pollution is also a problem with vessels such as jet skis and motorboats.
What vessels are the most eco-friendly?
There are loads of choices for anyone wanting to avoid motor-powered boats and fuel spillages.
Simple row boats and dinghies are a great way to spend some time on a calm piece of water. There are lots of lakes in the UK that are spot on for this activity. Similarly, rowing boats can be taken on many of Britain’s waterways, including the Thames.
Kayaking and canoeing are other activities for anyone wanting to get involved in water sports. Kayaking involves both leisure and sport and can be a relaxing and social activity. Rowing is big in many parts of England, and there are some famous clubs that are always happy to have new members.
Of course, anything that has a sail instead of a motor is going to be more environmentally friendly too. Sailing boats and yachts don’t have to be out of your reach, as there are sports clubs for this too.
So, does this mean that you shouldn’t use a motorboat, or are there ways to carry on without damaging the environment?
Are outboard motors environmentally friendly?
Outboard motors have a bad reputation due to the pollution they can cause. This pollution isn’t limited to emissions either.
Two-stroke outboard motors have a problem with polluting the water they are used on. Up to 30 percent of the unburned gas and oil mixture from these motors can be lost in lakes and rivers when they are used. They are also much noisier than other options for motorboats.
A modern four-stroke engine, by contrast, releases around 97 percent less pollution into the air and water than a two-stroke. These motors are much quieter and more efficient with their fuel.
Is it environmentally friendly to use a four-stroke outboard motor?
Using any form of motorboat will never be as eco-friendly as rowing yourself across a lake, or paddling downstream in a kayak. However, it isn’t unthinkable to enjoy time in a motorboat, as long as some care is taken.
When buying an outboard motor, consider first of all getting a four-stroke instead of a two-stroke. By doing this you have already cut down how much harm you will do to the environment, and how much noise you will inflict on others.
Next, search for companies that are actively looking to improve their products as far as the environment is concerned. Yamaha for instance has a reputation for trying to improve their product’s fuel efficiency, noise pollution, and how eco-friendly they are.
Therefore, choosing from the range of modern Yamaha outboards will help you to be more environmentally friendly on the water. There are other things you can do to make sure your hobby isn’t damaging to the environment too, such as cleaning the vessel with non-toxic cleaners and mopping up any fuel spills immediately.
Getting out on the open sea can mean the start of a major adventure. Just visiting a lake can also be an excellent way to spend a sunny afternoon. If you get involved, you can captain your own vessel and plot a course on the canals, rivers, and lakes of Britain.
This activity has so much scope for fun and can be used as a means of travelling the country for a novel holiday. However, there is a price to the environment.
By choosing carefully what type of boat you use, how you carry out your hobby and getting a modern outboard, you can minimise the risks, and enjoy boating guilt-free.