2018 Lionfish Challenge: Harvesting Florida’s Non-Native Fish Offers Rewards

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day, May 19; Challenge runs through Sept. 3

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., May 15, 2018 – Sign up now for the 2018 Lionfish Challenge and you could win up to $5,000 while helping rid Florida’s waters of non-native lionfish. The competition starts this Saturday, May 19. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) urges Sunshine State divers and anglers to register now at MyFWC.com/Lionfish. Once signed up, participants will have through Labor Day, Sept. 3, to enter catches via photo or by submitting tails to checkpoints located at select dive shops and FWC offices.

Participants who harvest FWC-tagged lionfish will receive a customized Lionfish Control Team long-sleeve performance fishing gear shirt. The first tagged lionfish that is removed from each of the 50 reefs will be eligible for monetary or product-based rewards.

Native to the Indo-Pacific and believed to have entered Florida waters from an aquarium release, lionfish are now established along the southeast coast of the U.S., Caribbean, and across the Gulf of Mexico. Due to its venomous spines, the invasive species has few predators and can negatively impact native fish and reef habitats.

In addition to the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water which donated $5,000 toward the effort, support for the program also comes from the American Sportfishing Association, Yamaha, National Marine Manufacturers Association, Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Dive Rite, Narked Scuba, and Lionator Pole Spears.

Visit myfwc.com/lionfish for more information.

3 Easy, No-Cost Ways to Be Safer on the Water

National Safe Boating Week is May 19–25 (2018): With the start of boating season and next week’s National Safe Boating Week, May 19–25, the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has three tips to get boaters thinking about safety aboard any type of boat.

1. Open up your boat for a vessel safety check: You may think getting a vessel safety check from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary or U.S. Power Squadrons can open yourself to problems. However, a no-risk, free vessel safety check does the opposite. It points out both the required and recommended items to have aboard, such as fire extinguishers, life jackets, distress signals, first-aid kits, and engine spark arrestors, and also helps provide a better understanding on the care and use of this critical equipment. Checks are done as a courtesy with no risk to the boater, so you won’t be in trouble if discrepancies are found. Go to https://bit.ly/1syhbDA to request a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary safety check or https://bit.ly/2I2uc8w for a U.S. Power Squadrons safety check.

2. Believe the numbers – take a safety course: Statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety show that only 13 percent of all boating deaths in 2016 occurred on vessels where the operator had taken a nationally approved boating safety education course. So take this number to heart – taking a boating safety course improves safety. The BoatUS Foundation offers free online boating safety courses that meet the education requirements in 36 states and also may earn you a boat insurance discount. Go to BoatUS.org/Free.

3. Give a safety talk before you head out: Taking out guests is half the fun of boating, but before you head out give a little talk about how to stay safe aboard your boat. Some important things to include may be how to distribute weight in a small boat, how to hold on when crossing a wake, how a tuber or water skier should safely reboard after being towed, how the VHF radio works and the location of important safety equipment. Also, give everyone a life jacket to wear or keep in his or her immediate vicinity. If you don’t have a right-sized life jacket for a youngster, borrow one for free at more than 550 locations nationwide from the BoatUS Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program at BoatUS.org/Life-Jacket-Loaner.

Regatta Pointe Marina Wins “Best Marina” For 5th Time

For the fifth time in the last six years, Regatta Pointe Marina was named “Best Marina” by the readers of the Bradenton Herald in the annual People’s Choice Awards.  

Regatta Pointe Marina is one of more than a dozen marinas located in the Herald’s circulation area, including Bradenton, Palmetto, Parish, Anna Maria Island, North Sarasota and the surrounding areas.  Each year, readers are encouraged to vote on their preferred local businesses in categories such as food & entertainment, home maintenance and business services. Regatta Pointe Marina was named “Best Marina” in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.  In 2016, our marina was the runner up. 

Regatta Pointe Marina is also home to Riverhouse Reef & Grill, which won in the categories of “Best Waterfront Restaurant” in each of the last three years.

We would like to thank everyone who voted for Regatta Pointe Marina and Riverhouse Reef & Grill, as well as all of the customers, clients and partnering businesses that make this the best marina in the Bradenton area!

BoatUS Reaches 10K YouTube Subscribers

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 26, 2018 – With springtime’s arrival, more boaters are getting help with a variety of how-to and other boating topics by watching BoatUS videos at YouTube.com/BoatUS. The national advocacy, services and safety group announced today it has reached a milestone with 10,000 YouTube channel subscribers. The most popular video, “How to Trim Your Boat,” has nearly 600,000 views and makes this critical boat-handling skill easy to understand.

Most of the 100-plus videos on the channel were produced by the editors of BoatUS Magazine and cover a range of practical topics, all designed to make a boater’s life better. “We’ve been releasing new videos weekly since last fall,” said BoatUS Magazine Managing Editor Stacey Nedrow-Wigmore. “Topics include how-to, maintenance, boat handling, buyers guides, fishing, and more. They’re professionally shot and edited, and we keep them short so they’re easy to watch anytime. Each one offers something useful, whether you’re new to boating or have been on the water for years.”

Some of the more popular topics just in time for the start of the boating season include, “How to Repair Gelcoat,” “5 Outboard Maintenance Jobs People Forget,” “Beaching Your Boat So You Can Leave Again,” “How To Navigate Using a Smartphone,” and “How To Back Into a Slip.”

Visit YouTube.com/BoatUS and click “subscribe” to receive notifications when new BoatUS videos are posted.

Here’s a recent video post we here at Regatta Pointe Marina found particularly useful demonstrating a Pre-Departure Boating Checklist:

BoatUS Warns Against Trump’s Proposal To Sell E15 Year-Round

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 17, 2018 – A proposal by President Trump to allow the sale of E15 (15 percent ethanol) gasoline year-round has set off alarm bells at the nation’s largest boating advocacy group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

E15 is prohibited by federal law for use in recreational boat engines, voids many marine engine warranties, and is currently banned for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency during summer months over concerns that it contributes to smog on hot days. Under the President’s April 12 proposal, however, a waiver to the Clean Air Act would permit the sale of E15 in the summertime at the same roadside gas stations where most recreational boaters refuel their trailered vessels.

“We are very disappointed,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “The proposal to sell E15 during the boating season is a recipe for misfueling in the highest order and a giveaway to the big ethanol and corporate farming interests at the expense of America’s middle-class boaters. The little E15 warning label currently required on gas station pumps does next to nothing to protect boaters’ engines, and if a waiver is granted, it would dramatically increase the chances of E15 getting into a boat’s gas tank.”

“With ethanol, boaters continue to pay the price with increased repair bills, lower fuel economy and poor reliability. Instead of more ethanol, we need more effective misfueling-prevention measures that will educate and protect all consumers,” added Kennedy.

A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory conclusively demonstrated that E15 damages boat engines, and 92 percent of readers of a prominent boating industrypublication reported in 2017 that they have seen damage caused by ethanol. A 2016 Harris Poll found that 64 percent of consumers were not sure or did not pay attention to the type of gas they used.

Boaters have long suffered under the Renewable Fuel Standard’s (RFS) mandate to increase the volume of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply. BoatUS is asking boaters for help on the issue by posting a message to their congressman’s or senator’s Facebook page urging for RFS reform. This can easily be done by going to https://bit.ly/2H62s2p.

Passed in 2005, RFS requires the blending of biofuels, such as corn-ethanol, into the nation’s gasoline supply. To keep up with this mandate, in 2010 the EPA permitted E15 (fuel containing up to 15 percent ethanol) into the marketplace, but only for some vehicle engines. 

The more than half-million-member boat owners group supports fuel choice, including smart biofuels development such as isobutanol, and the availability of ethanol-free fuels that are increasingly more difficult to find. “As more ethanol-blend fuels fill up the pumps, the fuel that most boaters want for safe operation is being pushed out of the market,” added Kennedy.

BoatUS is a member of the Smarter Fuel Future coalition

Affordable On-Water Boating Training Course April 28, 29 In Pensacola

PENSACOLA, Fla., April 10, 2018 – Want to learn the basics of powerboating or brush up on your skills? The nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water together with Freedom Boat Club Pensacola offer an affordable and fun ‘Intro to Boating’ course taught aboard 21-foot powerboats on Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, at the club’s location at 1901 Cypress Street.

Priced at $149 per person and starting at either 9 or 9:30 a.m., the three-hour ‘Intro to Boating’ course covers shifting and steering, basic docking, open-water handling and basic navigation. Class size is limited to three students per vessel, ensuring each student gets sufficient time at the helm.

The goal of the BoatUS Foundation and Freedom Boat Club Pensacola course is to address the high costs typically associated with at-the-helm training, making hands-on boating education more affordable. It also offers area residents the chance to try out recreational boating and give boaters the opportunity to brush up their skills before the summer boating season.

Space is limited. Must be 21 years or older. To sign up for a course, go to https://goo.gl/VM5tWu.

Take A FREE Online Boating Safety Education Course Mar. 18–24

No-Cost BoatUS Foundation online course offered for Florida & 35 other states

Photo Caption: The boating and fishing season will be here soon, and taking the no-cost BoatUS Foundation online boating safety course is easy to do with busy schedules.

Next week, Mar. 18-24, 2018, is a great time to take a boating safety course. Why? It’s perfect timing just before the start of the boating and fishing season and the week-long ‘Spring Aboard’ public service campaign makes it easy for boaters to take a boating safety course. The educational effort is a partnership of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), government, and nonprofit partners including the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water.

The BoatUS Foundation offers a no-cost NASBLA and state-approved online boating safety course for 36 states at BoatUS.org/Free. The course fits into busy schedules, allowing boaters to stop, and then start again where they left off any time of day or night, and is loaded with interactive animations, videos and photos to give boaters an education that goes well beyond the basics of boating. Upon successful passage course takers can easily print their state’s proof of completion. More than 1.4 million boaters have taken the Foundation’s courses since 1997.

US Coast Guard statistics indicate that of the accidents where the level of operator education was known, 80 percent of boating deaths occurred on boats where the boat operator had never received boating education instruction.

How to Get a Boat Loan Without a Hiccup

2018 Purchasing Tips from Boat Owners Association of The United States

Regatta Pointe Marina is home to multiple yacht brokerages with dozens of yachts on-site daily!

With interest rates already on the rise, how can you ensure your boat loan goes smoothly without time-consuming hiccups? Here are 10 tips from Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) just in time for the spring buying season.

1. Check your credit. Before applying for a loan get your current credit score and ensure your credit report is accurate. Scores above 800 may earn you a better interest rate. A free copy of your credit report is available annually from each of the three national credit bureaus at www.AnnualCreditReport.com. You can also check with your credit card issuer or bank you do business with. Other options are a credit counselor, a fee-based service, or to purchase it from the credit bureau. Find more at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

2. Find the right loan type. A fixed-rate, fixed-term, simple-interest loan is the most common. This offers the same monthly payment for the life of the loan. Variable rate or hybrid options may offer a combination of a fixed rate for a few years, and then a variable rate. With interest rates forecasted to continue to rise in 2018, the appeal of variable rate loans may decrease. Don’t forget to ask if there are prepayment penalties for paying off the loan early.

3. Consider a HELOC. Buyers of smaller vessels often tap into their home equity line of credit (HELOC) to fund a boat purchase. That may work well if you plan to pay the boat off while interest rates remain relatively low. However, passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the deductibility on interest for a home equity loan (if the qualifying vessel has a sleeping berth, cooking and toilet facilities).

4. Compare loan rates. Generally rates are lower and available loan terms are longer for newer boats and larger loan amounts. However, each is dependent on a variety of factors including model year, loan amount and down payment. Be prepared for banks to require larger down payments, have higher rates and offer shorter terms on older boats, especially those more than 20 model years. There could also be a significant rate difference between some consecutive model years, so be sure to talk with your lender and understand their rate and term structure.

5. Don’t be fooled by ads. You may see rates advertised as low as 3.99 percent, but there usually will be some small print that could make that loan less attractive. For instance, the rate might only be fixed for a few years or the loan period might be only seven years.

6. Get pre-approved. To help save time, ask if you can get preapproval, or if you can possibly start the underwriting process before you have a signed sales agreement or even have a specific boat in mind.

7. Know your tax benefits. A boat can qualify as a second-home loan interest deduction if it has a berth, galley and head, so buying a boat with these features may offer a tax advantage. However, the new Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 reduces the previous $1 million second-home mortgage deduction limit to $750,000 and completely eliminates deductibility of interest for a home equity loan that’s often favored by small boat buyers to fund a purchase.

8. Get it surveyed. For pre-owned vessels, hire a qualified marine surveyor to inspect the boat to ensure it is in good condition and you won’t have any unexpected repair bills. BoatUS.com/Surveyors can help you find one. Also, many lenders will require a marine survey.

9. Ask about closing costs. As with any loan, there are some fees involved. Sales tax, processing fees, title and registration and/or US Coast Guard documentation fees are common. Check with your lender to find out what to expect.

10. Calculate your monthly payment. How much can you afford? Go to BoatUS.com/Calculator to easily crunch the numbers. Your lender will also review your debt ratio and other criteria.

To learn about boat loans from BoatUS, go to http://www.BoatUS.com/Boatloans.

BoatUS: Tax Provisions for Boat Owners Extended

Boat buyers should be aware that a boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a galley, an installed head and sleeping berth.

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2018 – Just two short years ago, Congress extended some boat sales tax and mortgage interest deductions for recreational boat buyers. Excluding home equity loans, those deductions remain for next year’s 2018 tax season with the recently passed GOP tax overhaul plan signed into law on December 22, 2017, albeit with some new lower limits on lending amounts, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

Before passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, BoatUS, the nation’s boating advocacy, services and safety group, had concerns that boat owners would be singled out for negative tax treatment. However, recreational vessels with a sleeping berth, cooking and toilet facilities will be treated equally with second homes and recreational vehicles that may qualify for some sales tax and mortgage interest deductions when filing (in 2019) a 2018 federal income tax return.

The new Tax Cut and Jobs Act reduces the previous $1 million second-home mortgage deduction limit to $750,000. “Most new boats sell for far below this new cap, so we don’t think that will have much impact on the average boat buyer,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. However, what could affect buyers of smaller vessels is the act’s removal of the deductibility on interest for a home equity loan. Historically, borrowers could deduct home equity interest on loans up to $100,000 ($50,000 for married couples filing separately). “With the new tax law, that deduction is gone,” said Kennedy.

For the current 2017 tax season, the existing deduction remains in place and is offered to new owners who paid substantial state sales taxes on a new or used boat purchased in 2017. If there is a loan taken, mortgage interest paid on the loan may also be deducted from federal income taxes. Again, the vessel must have a sleeping berth, cooking and toilet facilities to qualify. Here are the details:

2017 Sales Tax Deduction
The Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014 continues to offer a federal tax deduction for state sales taxes paid on a recreational vessel. Boaters must choose either the state sales tax deduction or state income tax deduction on their federal tax return — they cannot take both. In addition, to take the state sales tax deduction, the sales tax on a boat purchase must be applied at the same tax rate as the state’s general sales tax. In order to claim the sales tax deduction, tax returns must be itemized. State sales taxes are entered on IRS form Schedule A, line 5b.

2017 Boat Loan Deduction 
A boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a galley, an installed head and sleeping berth. For those owners with a secured boat loan, mortgage interest paid on the loan may be deducted from federal income taxes. Taxpayers may use the home mortgage interest deduction for one second home in addition to their primary home, and must itemize deductions on their returns.

Some boaters may be unaware of this potential tax benefit because not all lending institutions send borrowers an IRS Form 1098, which reports interest paid. Not receiving the form does not preclude taking the deduction. If a 1098 is not available, boaters should contact their lender for the amount of interest paid and should enter it on line 11 on Schedule A along with the lender’s tax ID number. If a form 1098 is sent, boaters should simply enter the amount on line 10 of Schedule A.

For more details on the mortgage deduction on boats that qualify, go to IRS.gov and download IRS Publication 936.

Looking to 2018
The new limits on deductibility of mortgage interest and state sales taxes will kick in when boat owners calculate their 2018 tax liabilities along with changes to home equity loan deductions. Boaters are urged to contact a tax preparer or financial adviser for more information.

REPORT: Outdoor Industry 2% US GDP

Department of Commerce Report: Outdoor Industry makes up 2 percent of US GDP

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 1, 2018 – It’s no surprise that the industries that produce the most goods or services and keep the economy humming often receive favorable attention from legislators in Washington. Now with the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) February announcement that the outdoor recreation industry’s 2016 annual gross output is 2 percent ($373.7 billion) of the US gross domestic product (GDP), Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) believes boaters stand to gain from the news.

“Having a strong industry behind you is important when working in the halls of government,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy. “It can ultimately influence legislation that makes boating better, such as improving boating access by funding new launch ramps, providing budgets to maintain boating infrastructure or navigation aids, improving fishing habitat, and helping support boating safety efforts.”

The analysis was a result of passage of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act of 2016, which required the Department of Commerce, acting through the BEA, to enter into a joint memorandum with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to conduct, assess and analyze the outdoor recreation economy of the United States and its effects on the overall US economy.

The outdoor industry grew 3.8 percent in 2016, compared to 2.8 percent for the overall economy. Boating and fishing activities totaled $38.2 billion, an increase of 4 percent over 2015. The BEA report also noted that the outdoor recreation industry, which includes boating, fishing, RVing, hunting, camping, hiking, bicycling and supporting activities, surpassed the US agriculture and petroleum industries.

BoatUS remains part of a coalition of outdoor groups, organizations and businesses under the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable that urged the federal government to recognize the industry’s economic importance. The “prototype” statistics covering 2012 to 2016 from the newly established Department of Commerce Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account allow the public to comment before the BEA releases the final statistics this fall. The full report can be found at: https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/industry/orsa/orsanewsrelease.htm.

The Outdoor Recreation Roundtable advocates for bipartisan support for improved access to public lands and waters, increasing public-private partnerships to help modernize infrastructure and reduce decades-old maintenance backlogs that can provide a better visitor experience, support for responsible conservation efforts, and growth of outdoor recreation participation.