Spills and Fills — Protect the watercourse

Sawley — Luke Reeseroberts

Boating accounts for less than 1% of marine pollution from oil and fuel, but the collective impact from lots of small spills and splashes can still cause localised damage. Any more than a drop or two of oil and wildlife and habitats can suffer which is why if it’s important to take preventative action.

All boats may need to discharge their bilge water in some way and no matter how well maintained your engine is, bilge water will always contain at least a trace of oil or fuel. One of the easiest solutions is to use a bilge sock, a length of absorbent material that looks like a draught excluder. The sock sits in the bilge and absorbs hydrocarbons before the water is pumped out. How long they last will depend on how dirty the bilges are but for most boats they should manage at least a season before they can be disposed of in the hazardous waste bin in your local marina. And of course, good maintenance of fuel lines, connections and seals will help avoid leaks in the first place.

If you are refuelling from the fuel berth, then please a funnel or fuel collar, it’s an effective way to deal with drips and spills – and protect your boat at the same time.

If an accidental spill does occur, do not reach for the washing up liquid. These types of detergents act as dispersants so the pollution isn’t removed, just dispersed in smaller particles through the water. In a nutshell, they just redistribute the problem. The best bit of equipment to carry is a small spill kit that contains all you need in the way of absorbent pads, mini boom and pillow, to mop up a small spill of around 10 litres.

Image published by kind consent of Luke at Sawley Marina