Practical Gifts For Boaters Christmas 2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va., November 20, 2017 – What do you get a boater for Christmas? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), has three holiday gift ideas that are perfect for any boater, sailor or angler:

A $24 annual membership from BoatUS is a very affordable holiday gift. BoatUS also offers gift options for on-water towing and roadside breakdown services.

The gift of on-water towing: Give the gift of a BoatUS Unlimited Towing Membership with towing service provided by TowBoatUS. For saltwater boaters an annual Membership is just $149 per year, and for freshwater boaters the price is only $72. Both provide 24/7 dispatch assistance, and your boater will never have to pay out of pocket for a tow back to the dock or for a soft ungrounding. Included with an Unlimited Towing Membership is a subscription to award-winning BoatUS Magazine; exclusive fuel, transient slip and repair discounts; and the opportunity to earn rewards on boating gear at West Marine stores.

The gift for roadside breakdowns: For a stocking stuffer that offers big benefits to a trailer boater, consider gifting a BoatUS Membership with Unlimited Trailer Assist for $38 that takes care of roadside breakdowns. In addition a BoatUS Magazine subscription, membership discounts and West Marine rewards, one hundred miles of free on-road towing for both a disabled boat trailer and its tow vehicle to a safe location or repair shop are included, along with lockout, flat tire, battery jump and fuel drop-off service.

The gift that makes boating better: A basic BoatUS Membership for just $24 includes more than 25 benefits and services, including round-the-clock on-water or roadside dispatch with BoatUS paying the first $50 in towing services, a BoatUS Magazine subscription; exclusive fuel, transient slip and repair discounts; and rewards on boating gear at West Marine stores. Your boater can also take advantage of BoatUS’ advocacy efforts, safe boating and clean water programs.

All of these gifts can be found at BoatUS.com/gifts or by calling 800-395-2628. For every gift Membership purchased before December 25th, 2017, the gift giver will be entered to win a $200 West Marine gift card.

‘Give Way’ This Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md., November 9, 2017 – Giving Tuesday, November 28, kick-starts the season of charitable giving. Always celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, this national day of donating also offers boaters ways to give back to boating. The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water asks boaters, sailors and anglers to consider a donation to the boating nonprofit to help support its efforts to reduce boating accidents and increase stewardship of our waterways. Tax-deductible donations can be made at www.BoatUS.org/givingtuesday.

A donation to the BoatUS Foundation helps keep boaters safe.

“‘Give Way’ to Giving Tuesday helps recreational boaters understand this is the time of year to give priority to the things we cherish: safe outings on clean waters,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner.

Since 1981, the 501(c)(3) Foundation has offered the largest national life jacket loaner program for kids at more than 575 locations across the United States, the only free online boating-safety course that’s taken by more than 100,000 boaters each year and officially recognized by 36 states, and has funded more than $1.3 million in local boating-safety and clean-water grants allowing local communities to have a positive impact on their own waters.

Headquartered in Annapolis, Maryland, most of the Foundation’s funding comes directly from boaters and waterway users. To make a donation this charitable season or learn more, go to BoatUS.org/givingtuesday.

See & Be Seen On The Water – New Online Course

Via Boat US

ANNAPOLIS, Md., October 26, 2017 – If your boating takes you through crowded harbors, across shipping lanes or on foggy seas, then you know the feeling in your stomach when you have to ask yourself, “What’s that vessel doing?” Automatic Identification System, or AIS, can give you the answer, but is this collision-avoidance technology right for you? The answer to that question can be found by taking the new online course offered by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and the United States Power Squadrons, “AIS Electronics for Boaters – See and Be Seen on the Water.”

Learning about AIS is easy at BoatUS.org/AIS.

Available for a limited time at the special price of just $15 using coupon code AIS15 at BoatUS.org/AIS, “AIS Electronics for Boaters – See and Be Seen on the Water” offers a blend of practical knowledge with technical know-how and is a simple and easy way to get up to speed on this important navigation technology that more recreational boaters bring aboard every year. From discovering the different types of AIS and what each offers to learning important terms such as “update rates” and “time to closest approach,” boaters will get a full look at AIS and how it can increase safety. Upon completion, boaters will be able to build out a sample AIS component system for installation for their own vessel.

“The course is designed for boaters – not marine electronics technicians – and our online learning system makes it easy to learn at your own pace from the comfort of your own PC or tablet,” said BoatUS Foundation Director of Education Amanda Suttles Pérez. “Users can stop and start again right where they left off or review previous information at any time. It’s great for when schedules are tight.”

For more information on all online courses offered by the Foundation, go to BoatUS.org/courses.

Prepping for Hurricane Irma at Regatta Pointe Marina

By Regatta Pointe Marina Staff

Hurricane Irma touched nearly every corner of the state of Florida last week, and with it came incredible challenges and uncertainty. The incredible preparation and teamwork of everyone here at Regatta Pointe Marina, including staff and slip holders alike, provided a comforting blanket of security during the frightening days leading up to the storm. Thankfully, Irma passed by while causing only relatively minor damage at our port.

Regatta Pointe Marina is the largest marina in Manatee County with 350 slips, as well as commercial facilities for more than a dozen businesses.  Preparing for a hurricane is extremely complex and challenging for our staff and customers.  Each year we update our hurricane procedures and post them on our ebsite, as well as hold a Hurricane Planning Meeting, which all customer are invited to attend.  (NOTE: This year’s meeting was held on May 30 at the Eagle’s Nest.  Be sure you’re signed up to receive email alerts to ensure you receive your invitation to the 2018 meeting. CLICK HERE to join our email list)

All of our slip holding customers are responsible for securing their own boats to minimize the risk of damage to their vessel, their neighboring vessels and the marina.  We place a document with information on securing boats for storms on our website (CLICK HERE to view).  We are very thankful that so many of our slip holders did a spectacular job preparing their boats, and in many cases helping each other to secure each and every docked boat prior to the storm. 

Preparing the marina facilities for the storm was a complicated task that tested our staff.  Nearly every inch of our property had to be combed over by our maintenance team.  Anything loose or vulnerable to high winds had to be anchored or removed in advance of Irma’s arrival.  Dozens of signs had to be taken down, outdoor furniture had to be hidden away and other structures had to be anchored to be made storm ready.

As we all watched and waited for Irma to arrive, everyone in our region was terrified at the prospect of a potential category 4 hurricane laying waste to our beloved home.  We were blessed to see Irma take enough of an inland turn to reduce the strength of the winds to that of a category 1 when Irma reached us.  Regatta Pointe Marina’s electricity was knocked out, but only for a matter of hours.  Our hearts go out to those who did not have such fortune.

Following the storm, many of our customers were gracious enough to post photos and information about the marina on the Regatta Pointe Marina Facebook Group.  The marina was back up and running after just a couple of days.  The effects of the storm are a little less visible with each day that passes.  But the community spirit that held Regatta Pointe Marina together through the storm feels stronger than ever.

3 Tips For Making Boat Insurance Claims

Courtesy of Boat US

Summer season in Tampa Bay and means MANY more boaters are hitting the water.  More boaters usually means more and more accidents.  Whether you are tied to the Regatta Pointe Marina docks or out enjoying our local waters, when catastrophic strikes, it’s a comfort to know your insurance provider is there to cover damages.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers three tips that can help boaters get the boat back on the water sooner after a claim.

  1. Don’t wait: If you get in an accident, notice a theft, or see other damage, always call your insurance company as soon as practically possible. If you are on the fence about whether you may want to file a claim or not, it’s still a good idea to call your insurer immediately. Letting your boat insurer know quickly can help speed the claims process later as they will already have basic information on file. Also ensure your current insurance company offers 24/7 claims reporting.
  2. Be photo happy: If you have an accident, take pictures. Lots of them. They can help support swift processing of your claim by your boat’s insurance company. Many insurers make it easy to electronically send in photos of damage and offer free Apps. It also pays to take photos of your boating equipment and personal effects. In the event of a loss, they’ll prove ownership and help to establish value.
  3. About that estimate: The major task for the boat owner is to get an estimate of the damage. It’s always good to know which boatyards, marinas or boating service providers are best in your area, so keep tabs. Word of mouth is one good way to know. Another is to check for credentials (ABYC Certified Technicians, manufacturer certifications). Having an established relationship with a yard will also help you get to the head of the line so you can get your estimate more quickly. “Know where you would want to take your boat now,” said BoatUS Vice President of Claims Rick Wilson. “It will cut down on the amount of time it takes to get an estimate and help speed your claim.”

The marine insurance specialists at BoatUS (800-283-2883) can help you review your current policy. Free quotes are also available at BoatUS.com/insurance.

Bill Strengthens Derelict Vessel Fight, Environtmentally Sound Public Access

Via BoatUS

BoatUS applauds the passage of Florida HB 7043 that promotes sound public access and helps address the sunshine state’s derelict vessel issue.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 27, 2017 – The results of an eight-year pilot program are in, and Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature have acted. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) congratulates the governor and legislators on Friday’s passage of HB 7043 that promotes environmentally sound public access and helps address the issue of improperly stored, abandoned or derelict vessels. “These are sound regulations supported by responsible boaters,” said BoatUS Manager of Government Affairs David Kennedy.

When the pilot program was enacted in 2009, a patchwork of local anchoring regulations sometimes made stopping difficult. Some boaters reported fearing a visit from law enforcement advising that they had “overstayed” their visit and needed to move on.

Conducted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and five local governments including the City of St. Augustine, City of Stuart/Martin County, City of St. Petersburg, City of Sarasota and Monroe County/Marathon/Key West, the pilot tested a variety of methods of regulated anchoring, while still protecting the anchoring rights of the active cruising public. It also sought to reduce the growing population of derelict vessels in the state.

BoatUS expressly thanks Gov. Scott, Reps. Matt Caldwell (Lee County) Holly Raschein (Monroe County), Sen. Lauren Book (Broward County) and the FWC for their work on the bill.

Some of bill’s measures include:

  1. Providing commonsense anchoring regulations in and around mooring fields and waterway infrastructure.
  2. Broadening the definition of a “derelict vessel”; for boats in use, adding new penalties for those whose vessel registration is expired beyond six months; and making it illegal to affix a vessel to an unpermitted, unauthorized or otherwise “unlawful object,” affixed to the bottom of the waters of the state. This could include an unpermitted mooring or an old engine block. 
  3. Giving local governments the option to require proof of pumpout after vessels have been anchored for 10 days or longer in federally managed no-discharge-zones (portions of the Florida Keys and waters off Destin).

Looking At The Accuracy of 22 Years of Hurricane Season Predictions

Courtesy of BoatUS

LEXANDRIA, Va., June 13, 2017 – According to BoatUS, damage from hurricanes is a leading cause for boat insurance claims. So each summer, the national advocacy, services and safety group anxiously awaits predictions, from a number of highly qualified experts with supercomputers, as to how many tropical storms and hurricanes will form in the Atlantic.

Bottom numbers indicate how many hurricanes were forecast for each year. Red icons above the line indicate how many more hurricanes occurred than predicted. Blue icons below the line indicate how many fewer hurricanes occurred than predicted.

With most 2017 storm forecasts now predicting average to above-average storm activity for the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season (June 1 – November 30), just how accurate are these predictions, and do boaters need to adjust their hurricane prep plans this year?

The BoatUS Seaworthy Program, which helps BoatUS members avoid injuries and boat damage by analyzing insurance claims data and publishing its findings in BoatUS Magazine, compared over two decades of storm predictions from one of the better-known hurricane-season forecasts from Colorado State University’s Philip Klotzbach and the late Bill Gray. Said Seaworthy Director Charles Fort, “Our mission was not to judge the forecasters but to find out how much confidence we should have in the hurricane-season predictions and what it means to boaters,” said Fort.

After comparing annual predictions to actual weather, Seaworthy discovered that out of 22 years of hurricane season activity forecasts, only one was 100 percent accurate. In some years, there were up to eight more storms than predicted (click here for chart with data).

Boaters often misinterpret what the forecasters try to do, says Fort. “Early season hurricane predictions don’t attempt to forecast the percentage of storms that will come ashore or which coastal locations will be in the crosshair.” BoatUS members can get public advisories from the National Hurricane Center as they are issued, as well as detailed maps of the forecast track, wind bands and wind field for each named storm.

The takeaway? “Weather forecasting is tricky business,” added Fort. “Despite what forecasters may predict, a boater’s mantra should be hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Have a well-thought-out hurricane plan, and prepare your boat as best as possible. It could mean the difference between an easy recovery after a storm or a complete loss.”

Free hurricane-planning help is available online at BoatUS.com/hurricanes.  
Click here to download Regatta Pointe Marina hurricane procedures
Click here to download Regatta Pointe Marina hurricane preparedness tips

Danger Of Texting While Boating

ANNAPOLIS, Md., May 15, 2017 -The National Highway Traffic Safety Commission says that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. On waterways across the country, recreational boaters know that five seconds is a world of time to get into trouble. Unlike driving on a road, boats can approach from any direction, come in all shapes and sizes and move at different speeds. As part of National Safe Boating Week (May 20–26), the BoatUS Foundation urges boaters who bring smartphones aboard to be aware of the risk of distracted boating.

Photo of boater texting provided by BoatUS

Good news/bad news: “Cellphones are the primary communication device for many boaters,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner. “So while they’re important to all of us, we have to know how to use them wisely. If you’re texting from the helm, you’re likely not helming the boat.”

The stress of it all: Adding to the challenge and unlike automobiles, says Sensenbrenner, is boating’s unique stressors of sun, glare, wind, waves and vibration. Research shows that hours of exposure to these boating stressors produces a kind of a fatigue, or “boater’s hypnosis” which slows reaction time almost as much as if you were legally drunk. Adding alcohol multiplies the accident risk.

4 tips to improve situational awareness: Cell phones, alcohol and other factors can hinder knowing what’s going on around you, or your “situational awareness.” Sensenbrenner says boaters can always improve their situational awareness by: 1. not texting while driving, 2. slowing down, 3. posting extra lookouts, and 4. waiting for your safe return ashore before enjoying alcohol.

If you’d like to learn more about safe, smart and clean boating, go to BoatUS.org.