Byline: Ambrosia Brody
LOS ANGELES — The Port of Los Angeles has launched a program that allows recreational boaters with older two-stroke outboard engines to boat cleaner by repowering with new-technology four-strokes. Designed to help boat owners replace older, high-polluting outboard motors with more fuel-efficient and cleaner-operating engines, the initiative has garnered attention from many boaters.
Initiated in 2012, the port’s Marina Engine Exchange Program is geared toward vessels with small outboard motors up to 10 hp. The port offers boat owners an incentive to replace the old-technology engines by sponsoring 75 percent of the total cost of the motor replacement — up to $2,000. This includes the costs of the new engine, labor for replacement and recycling the old engine, according to the port.
“This program really shows that we don’t only care about the big guys, the huge ships, we also care about the pollution that comes from the smaller boats, which can also be very significant,” said Lisa Wunder, assistant air quality supervisor for the environmental management division of the port.
The program originated as a mitigation measure to offset any pollution anticipated with the Cabrillo Marina expansion, replacing old outboard engines with low-emissions California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified three-star-rated engines. Owners can select Mercury, Suzuki or Tohatsu motors.
Boat owners who keep their vessels in any of the port’s 15 marinas are eligible for the program. Funding was approved for the replacement of 30 engines.
The incentive caught the attention of 42 boaters last year, when the port announced the program through flyers posted in marinas. Dockmasters also helped spread the word.
That’s how Charles Batarse found out about the program.
“I probably wouldn’t have gotten a new four-stroke motor if Anthony, the dockmaster at California Yacht Marina, hadn’t mentioned it,” said Batarse, who keeps his 40-foot boat, Betty L, in the marina. “He and the program helped me change my mind on getting a four-stroke.”
Batarse, an eight-year tenant of California Yacht Marina, submitted his application after learning more about the port’s program that replaces old engines with newer engines that emit less pollution. He is one of 30 marina tenants to upgrade from a two-stroke motor on his Carolina Skiff J14 to a four-stroke motor.
In order to be considered for the program, applicants were required to fill out and submit an application to the port’s Environmental Management Division in October 2012, have their vessel docked at a slip in one of the port’s marinas and have an operational two-stroke outboard motor producing no more than 10 hp. Recipients had to agree to keep the boat in the marina for at least one year.
Staff then conducted a cost-effectiveness calculation based on the age of the old engine and how much the engine was used. Those motors that were estimated to have the biggest negative environmental impact were then prioritized to be replaced first.
Recipients were notified in the fall, and replacements began in the spring.
Sunrise Marine Services, the San Pedro company contracted by the port to install the engines, contacts each boater to schedule a motor inspection. The new engine is installed after the boat owner selects one of three motors and pays the 25 percent of the engine’s total cost that is not covered by the port.
“We have received nothing but good feedback from boaters,” said Scott Glassock, service manager at Sunrise Marine Services. “They are happy to get rid of their stinky motors and are happy to do their part in cleaning up the waterways.”
The boat repair facility specializes in pleasureboats ranging from inflatables and skiffs to 37-foot powerboats. With 75 years of combined experience in the boat repair business, the company’s staff is glad to play a part in the port’s efforts to clean up local waters, said Steve Weinman, general manager of Sunrise Marine Services.
The new engines installed by Sunrise Marine Services meet CARB’s 2008 exhaust emission standards and produce 65 percent lower emissions than the CARB one-star engines produced in 2001.
Although the port currently has a backlog of about one dozen applicants, Wunder encourages people interested in the incentive program to submit an application — since the port has received more funding for the next fiscal year, which starts in July. “We are starting off with smaller engines, because we wanted to be able to do a good amount (of replacements),” Wunder said. “We hope in the future to be able to expand the program.”
For those on their way to receiving a new engine, the process is worth the wait.
“The whole process was pretty painless,” Batarse said. “This was a good opportunity to get a new motor and help the environment.”
For more information on the program, visit portoflosangeles.org.