Green Boats

I’ve spent most of my free days lately varnishing the Arctic Tern’s brightwork and it certainly looks beautiful.  If I didn’t find this to be a zen activity, I’d consider it infuriating since putting on varnish is such a slow, finicky activity.  Varnish doesn’t like sun.  It doesn’t like rain.  It doesn’t like hot nor does it like cold.  It hates dry, but too humid isn’t good either.  Oh, and when you apply it you’re wise to wear a respirator since the fumes coming off it make your head spin.  Wearing a respirator is like being Darth Vader- at least the heavy breathing part.  (Sorry Mojave, I can’t choke anyone.)

My friend Douglas and I ran into Peter Wilcox, who is a big green boat guy, at the farmer’s market today.  This got me thinking about what boats are made of why we own them.  When I say green boats, I’m not referring to green as in unripe or new to boats.  I’m talking about green in an environmentally friendly way.

I say that boats aren’t green at all.  To keep a boat from being eaten by the water and the various organisms that thrive in moisture, you have to put paint, varnish, and/or oils on your boat- most of which are full of caustic chemicals.  Even a fine wooden sailing boat is a floating toxic mess.

Andy Bike says a sailboat is not big deal environmentally.  I say having any boat is not so green.  Even if you made it out of all natural materials, the fact that you solely own the thing and it sits around rotting most of the time makes it a little selfish and more brown than green.  To be be a green boat, it should really be owned by ten or more guys and should be used so frequently that you have to make a reservation to use it.  Until I figure out how to round up those guys, call me a green sinner.

Anyone want to go sailing?


3 thoughts on “Green Boats

  1. If you are eating meat, driving a car, and taking trips by airline, any environmental sins related to your wooden boat are vanishingly small in comparison to the other damage you are doing.
    My boat has a hull made largely of toxic chemicals, but the chemicals are now inert and bound in to the structure. The outgassing was done and overwith about 30 years ago.
    The wooden parts, the rails, the gratings, the thwart, and the centerboard cap, are all teak, which means that surface finishing is optional. I have been applying linseed oil out of the same gallon can for ten years.
    I use the boat about 30 or 40 days a year, so there is hardly any waste there.
    As with my 40 year old car, I think maintaining and reusing an old thing is pretty green.

    1. Agreed on the airplane for pleasure argument, but again we choose these things and we are ultimately responsible for them. I could just go swimming, but it’s kinda slow…

  2. Bruce come to the dark side!! let the earth burn!! make more babies, sniff more chemicals, pleasure and beauty!! Get in the water!!!*&#@)#*^*&@#^

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