50 Steps Boaters Can Take
to Save Our Waters
Clyde W. Ford
New Society Publishers, 224pp, $16.95
Not just a boating writer, Clyde Ford was born in New York City, has taught Swahili at Columbia University, African American History at Western Washington University and somatic psychology in Freeburg, Germany. Joseph Campbell's archivist says that Ford's work in mythology has picked up where Campbell left off. Ford is also the author of several award-winning mystery thriller novels, including The Long Mile.
Ford currently lives in Bellingham, Washington, writes for "PassageMaker Magazine" and cruises the Inside Passage in his 30-foot Willard single engine biodiesel trawler. He is a persuasive and peripatetic speaker eager to spread his message. To that end he has also recently established and is the Executive Director of Ecomarine Institute.
But fear not, Boat Green is not a proselytizing essay written by an crusader driving us through guilt to do the right thing, nor is it a reasoned argument by erudite theorist. Rather, the book is the product of a talented and thoughtful boater, whose concern for the world's oceans is directly related to the time he has spent in their spell-binding company. Boat Green is a methodical set of instructions. Follow them and you will be a righteous boater, helping the planet's oceans to recover from our toxic assault.
In the introductory chapter, Ford asks a simple question. "What is the value of the marine environment?" A checklist helps provide the individual reader's answer. If you are like 93 per cent of boaters polled by Discover Boating, peace, relaxation and stress relief-intangibles that lie far beyond traditional economics-are important answers.
The second chapter explains eutrophication (the process by which "dead zones" are created in the ocean-caused by lack of oxygen-and points out 36 dead zones in the coastal waters of the United States. From the Hood Canal in Washington State to Mobile Bay to Long Island Sound and yes, even the coast of New England, our coastal waters are dying faster than you can start your engine. The relationship between the health of the oceans and global warming-the ultimate health of the planet is undisputable, but, claims Ford, one boater can make a difference.
The checklist for a green boat starts with being in compliance with Coast Guard safety regulations. Obvious you say? Did you know that the discharge of oil and other waste is regulated? Add to the CG regs by creating your own personal regulations (Ford calls it personal "vision"). He suggests following the example of Pete Seeger's "vision" as expressed through song and action-building and sailing the Clearwater through revoltingly filthy waters. The Hudson River still has dead zones, but not as many.
Subsequent chapters address oil spill and prevention, head usage and pump out facilities, how to change to biodiesel or ethanol, the advantage of four stroke, electric or hybrid engines, gray water management, recycling while underway. In a section on boat maintenance, Ford addresses engine maintenance, wind, solar and other sources of auxiliary energy. He explains practices for obtaining the longest possible life for your batteries, non-confrontational suggestions for your favorite boat-yard's clean-up and techniques for anchoring without disturbing the water bottom. If you think you are already an environmentally responsible boater, Ford includes a carbon footprint calculator for your boat.
And when you finish all that, you can go on line and join one or several of the marine environmental advocacy groups, many of which are listed at the end of the book. This impassioned yet supremely practical call to action is bound to cause you to change your ways-even if you are already, pretty green.