States Coast Guard Auxiliary
Well it's time to think about the lowest and most unappreciated part of your boat, the bilge. Who cares what happens down there no one can see it right. Fortunately people like Police and the Coast Guard do. There has been a few cases of the bilge discharging oil and fuel overboard because the owner aren't even aware of a leak in the engine or fuel lines. The contaminants float and bilge pump will just pump the oil overboard and leave a trail right to you. Fines (depending on who catches you) can be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Good news though there is a limit to the fine and that is a paltry 835,000 dollars. This is usually for the commercial freighters.
Take heart there is things that you can do to help the tasty fish and crustaceans. After all it would be nice that they don't come to the pan pre-oiled. I can't personally attest to it but I don't think a salmon would taste good cooked in 30 weight oil.
There are a couple of things that we can keep on board that will help. One item is known as bilge pillow. It can suck up anywhere between 1.5 to 2 quarts of oil or fuel from the bilges but will not absorb water. If you have a spill just toss it into the bilge water and let it do its job.
Also there are white pads that will absorb oil and fuels but not water. I line the well under the engine and transmission so that the drips will be absorbed before it hits the bilge. You should use them when refueling to catch any overspills. These are a couple of good things to keep on hand. Best way is to keep the bilges clean in the first place. As vessel examiner I fortunately have only had to fail two vessels over the last year because of dirty bilges.
Spills aren't slick
Report any spills 800-OILS-911 and US Coast Guard 800-424-8802
Published on Feb 16, 2016.