Boats are in the thick of it when it comes the algae crisis
As thick blue-green algae creeps across waterways in Southwest Florida, many are wondering if it’s bad for their boat?
Boat captain Matthew Trottier with Paradise Boat rentals knows how frustrating this slimy mess can be, “Really just gives us a hard time when the algae’s in the water… We constantly have to pull the boats out of the water and pressure wash this green algae off or else it’s going to stain the boat.”
Trottier says the green water is turning off customers and piling on extra expenses, “We have to put our money into the acid which isn’t cheap and we also have to use gas for the pressure washer. And that doesn’t include the man hours that we put into washing the boats.”
We checked in with boat expert Tim Kendall at the Boathouse of Cape Coral, “At this point, it’s kind of a pick and choose the days that you’re going to go.”
Boats that remain stationary in the water are at the highest risk of damage not just from algae, but also barnacles, muscles, and sponges.
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The good news, Kendall says, the biggest concern for boat owners is mostly cosmetic. “With most of that being on the surface, it’s going to sort of form a line around the boat… A little bit is going to turn into a little bit more.. So it could turn into a very thick outline around your boat. It’s going to take a little more work to get it off instead of the normal cleaning.”
Meanwhile, boat captains like Trottier are keeping their eye on the water as Cape Coral canal start seeing the green and blue mess too.
“I feel like it does impact the amount of people that go boating on the weekend. It turns them off. No one wants to drive through green slime,” Trottier added.
Cleaning Up Prosperity Pointe Marina
A company says a machine is the only one of its kind in the U.S., and the CEO of the company is hoping to bring some relief to one North Fort Myers marina who’s water is caked with this blue-green algae.
North Fort Myers’ Prosperity Pointe Marina owner Kevin Mulhearn is fed up with the green gunk in the water of his business, saying, “The stench is horrendous. It’s just like 10-fold worse than I’ve ever seen it before.”
Even people who live at the marina are trying to avoid it.
Michael Goode of Fort Myers can’t even stay at home, “I’m staying away from the boat. I live on the boat, but if I’m not at work or sleeping, I’m not around here right now.”
Now Mulhearn is trying taking matters into his own hands, “I’m not going to stand around and just wait for them to come up with a solution. We think we have a solution ourselves.
He’s teaming up with Bradenton-based Watermaster US hoping to come up with a short-term fix.”
“We’re not the solution, but we might be the silver bullet,” said Mark Baker, CEO of Watermaster US. Baker says a machine could suck up the algae in the Caloosahatchee and take it to an approved dump site.
Goode likes the idea, saying, “It sounds great to me because it’s definitely not doing any good for any of the plant life or vegetation.”
Right now Watermaster US is in the process of getting the necessary paperwork to start the project.
They would have to get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and the DEP first, “I think we have to deal with the short-term solution immediately. This has to be handled. The tourism and things in this area that we live off of are going to be destroyed,” Baker said.
The DEP says the algae is usually taken to a landfill once it is collected.
You can protect your engine by flushing your outboard motor using a flush bag, flush muff, or a built-in device with a hose fitting. Cleaning your engine will prevent any buildup or growth of algae. Always keep your outboard engine fully out of the water when not in use.
Non-Toxic Boat Cleaning Alternatives
Environmentally-friendly cleaning products have less of an impact on the environment than toxic or phosphate-containing products.
All Purpose Cleaner
Straight vinegar, vinegar and salt, or a paste of baking soda and water are all effective grease cutters.
After removing as much substance as possible, fill a pan with one quart of water and two tablespoons cream of tartar. Bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. Rinse well.
Fill a spray bottle with equal amounts of vinegar and water. Apply with a soft cloth and dry with a squeegee or newspaper.
Use olive oil on all wood surfaces. Apply with a soft cloth, rub in, let stand for several hours, and then polish with a soft, dry cloth to remove any residue.
Sprinkle baking soda on a sponge or green scouring pad. Add vinegar to remove rings or soap scum.
Decorative Metal Cleaner
(for brass, copper or pewter)
Combine 1/2 cup of salt with 1/2 cup white vinegar. Add enough flour to make a paste. Apply and let sit 15 minutes to one hour. Rinse thoroughly to prevent corrosion. Salt and vinegar should not be used on metals that have a lacquer coating.
Make a paste of lemon juice, salt and flour.
Fiberglass Stain Remover
Use a paste of baking soda.
Combine lemon juice and salt or white vinegar and salt to make a paste.