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1. Boats need to be given the opportunity to drain.

As you work your boat, strange sediment sometimes builds up in the bilges or is created by fuel spills. To avoid a serious buildup of sediment, ensure that your boat is given the chance to drain. The more you let your boat sit, the more sediment it builds. Also remember that storage boat attendants, such as boat movers, may not have the tools necessary to remove the sediment if you leave the boat to rest without draining.

2. Make sure your engine is turned off, or after a shoot if the boat has power.

Dead engines can lead to exhaust odors and vibration, both of which increase during the cruising season. Because you might also have sediment on the engine, it might be time to turn it off. Sometimes the best thing to do is just stay off the waters while it’s drained.

3. Bright lights make dirty water look worse.

Even illuminated waters can make the water look dirty or slimy. Make sure that boaters know when to avoid the water during the cruising season. They should rely on landmarks such as coastlines or waterways to help steer clear of areas that might contain unusual sediment. (Note: “Inhaled particles are considered harmful to the human respiratory tract and heart” FDA.gov )

4. Cover your boat, hatch covers included.

Another cause of problems is muck. If you have a hatch cover set into the bottom of the boat, keep it on throughout the water season, to minimize sediment buildup and help keep your hull clean.

5. Lift the boat something fierce.

In the case of an emergency, and want to forego that eco approach, try lifting your boat as forcefully as you can. Remember, your boat is built to handle all kinds and conditions. If it’s dirty, wet, rough, or otherwise unsafe, remove yourself.

6. Don’t block shoreline channels or ponds because they clear up in time.

While you’re out, take a look at this map of Lake Arnholdt, just southeast of Davenport, Iowa. Look for a channel called the Watershed Channel, which begins in the southwest corner of the lake. It then moves north to just to the east of the Davenport Army Ammunition Plant. It is one of the longest channels in the water. Aerosols either released in the air from Croton-Harmon or rains that happen through the lake on the dry lake floor can quickly clear this channel of sediment. As long as activities stop, this channel should remain clear. (One of the biggest offenders in the Watershed Channel is seen here.)

When you’re out of the water and want to preface or end a season, one thing might be worth mentioning: dreams. During the day, several things in the breeze assure that you’ll be reminded of the season, on a first-name basis at least. While this would be nothing new to any sailor, it is to some, like youngsters, a source of irritation.

Dan Robson is a member of The Pelagic Department, a Friends Committee on National Legislation group that promotes sustainable boating through legislation, environment education, and stewardship.