Boat Show Features Environmentally-Friendly Watercraft

Lots of folks are headed to Reliant Park this weekend for the final days of the Houston Boat Show.  Along with checking out new designs and high-tech features, visitors will also see boats that are much more environmentally friendly.

There's a lot to see at this year's Boat Show. There are fishing boats for a lazy afternoon on the river;  fast, streamlined boats for the water skier; and luxurious cabin cruisers for a weekend trip.  And while boats have always been a big part of the Gulf Coast lifestyle, dealers say these boats are much different than the ones you found on lakes and bayous just a few years ago.

Boats at the Houston Boat Show"Just being around them when you see them in the water, you don't have the old exhaust or gasoline or oil smells you used to have." 

That's Mike Kirshenbaum with Houston's Marine Max dealership.  He remembers when boaters could dump all sorts of stuff in the water.

"You'd have to be out a certain distance but actually you would flush the toilets, or the heads as they're called in boats, into the water. And that's all changed now. Everything is all self-contained, similar to like a motor home.  You go and have them pumped out."

Boat companies these days have to adhere to a lot of environmental regulations. For one, they work with a lot of fiberglass and that means they have to follow tough emissions standards.  

When it comes to building the boats, they also have to respond to higher standards when they design new engines.

"Well most of your smaller engines, your four-and-six cylinder engines, will have a catalytic converter in them, and that's to meet the California standards.  Because of the size of the industry there, they're doing those standards for all boats no matter where they're located."

Back of a boat at the Houston Boat ShowBut Kirshenbaum says the two questions most boat buyers ask is how fast will it go, and how much fuel does it use.  Jason Delaney used to work on engines before he started selling boats at Darrell Moore Marine.  He says boat buyers these days are getting higher performance while polluting less.

"They're regulated a lot by the engine control module which is told by two oxygen sensors whether or not the motor is using fuel, or if it's just blowing unused fuel out the exhaust and into the lake.  Typically if these 02 sensors pick up on that, it will tell the engine control module to cut back a little bit of fuel."

And while new technology means higher costs, Delaney says today's boats are made of more durable materials and that means they'll last longer.  He says while you might get 20 years out of an old boat, newer models could last a lifetime if they get proper maintenance. And improved efficiency means boaters can save money and fuel every time they go on the water.

"We base it off of how we spend a day on the boat, we used to spend maybe half a tank of gas, we're now spending a quarter tank of gas.  To most people that might be, say, 20 to 40 dollars, in a general range that they're saving out on the lake in one weekend." 

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...