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5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween with Your Boat this Year

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, October 21, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween with Your Boat this Year

Costumes, candy corn, Jack-O-Lanterns, trick-or-treats, pumpkin spice everything – it’s officially that time of year once again! Here at the Sea Tow Foundation, Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. While most blog posts out there share tips on the perfect DIY costume or home decor, we thought, being the boating safety nonprofit we are, we’d take things in a different direction by sharing a few secrets on how to dress up your boat!

If you’re looking for some fun ways to really get into the spooky spirit this Halloween, check out the ideas below:

  1. Spooky Sounds and Halloween Hits – You didn’t splurge for those top-of-the-line marine speakers for nothing! Make good use of your boat’s sound system by playing spooky sound effects or your favorite Halloween hits. You can never go wrong with “Monster Mash!”
  2. Jack-O-Lanterns Galore – There are no shortage of great ideas and themes for carving pumpkins this time of year and you’re sure to turn some heads this Halloween season with well thought out Jack-O-Lanterns on your boat! Use battery-operated lights inside instead of candles, though. Open fires and boats don’t mix!
  3. Pumpkins aren’t just for decorating - Consider signing up for a giant pumpkin water race with some friends. Find a giant pumpkin, hollow it out, put on a life jacket and climb inside. And then see how far you can paddle!
  4. Lights, lights, and more lights – Whether you’re piloting a yacht, a pontoon or a small dinghy, you’ve got room to add a few festive lights to your boat. Even if you don’t have the time or space to really take your haunts to the next level, you can’t go wrong with a string of orange lights to get into the spooky spirit. Just make sure that your navigation lights are still visible and won’t be blocked.
  5. Host a dockside trick-or-treat – A great way to get the young ones hooked on a lifelong love of boating is to spend as much time as possible with them in and around the water. This Halloween, instead of heading door to door in your neighborhood, see if your local marina is willing to host their own trick-or-treat event down on the docks. Everyone can decorate their boat and the dock around it and the kids are sure to love it! They can even find fun ways of incorporating their life jackets into their costume ideas!

Do you have other Halloween-inspired boating ideas? Share them with us on Facebook or Instagram! And if you’re looking to trick your boat out with some treats this season, check out this Halloween themed blog from Sea Tow Services International!

Happy Halloween from the Sea Tow Foundation!!


Tags:  Events  Fall  Halloween  Life Jacket  News 

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The Sea Tow Foundation Has a New Online Store

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Sea Tow Foundation Has a New Online Store

The Sea Tow Foundation is excited to announce the launch of our new online store! We’ve made it even easier for you to find and order your boating safety materials any time of the day or night.

.The new online store is divided into three sections:


.Beacon Rental

Please note that our beacon rental program has ended as of January 1, 2020

If you are interested in renting an EPIRB or a PLB for an upcoming boating trip, this is the place for you. Not sure what EPIRB and PLB stand for or which one you should rent? Check out our recent article to answer those questions and much more!


Program Supplies

Materials related to our Life Jacket Loaner Program and our Sober Skipper program can be found here. This includes signage, banners, brochures, stickers, stencils and more! You’ll also find that many items are listed as $0 because their production and shipping costs were funded through our U.S. Coast Guard grants for these programs.


Print Materials

The Sea Tow Foundation’s printed materials can be found in this section of the online store and includes pre-printed materials as well as free downloadable content that you can print locally. One of our most popular items is the Boating with Tow Bee activity book for children based on the popular mascot of Tow Bee’s Boating Safety Tips. It is sold in packs of 100 so that you can use it with school groups, community groups or at boat shows.

Take a moment to browse the store and check out everything we offer. If you would like to see something new added to our store, let us know in the comments section below.

Tags:  2019-20  Beacon Rental  Life Jacket Loaner Station Grant  Sober Skipper  Tow Bee 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Review First Mate Checklist Before Leaving the Dock!

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Updated: Friday, March 27, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Review First Mate Checklist Before Leaving the Dock!

Have all the First Mates aboard perform these important safety checks before your next boating outing such as: checking that everyone has a properly fitted life jacket; that everyone knows where the fire extinguishers, emergency flares, and first aid kit is kept on the boat; and to help the captain perform a radio check; and more!.
Click here to  the First Mate Checklist before your next boating outing!
Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips

Tags:  First Mate Checklist  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Sea Tow Foundation Announces $330,000 in Grants Awarded for 2019-20

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, August 2, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sea Tow Foundation Announces $330,000 in Grants Awarded for 2019-20

The Sea Tow Foundation – a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of safe boating practices – has announced it will receive a series of grants from the United States Coast Guard for the 2019-20 grant year and beyond.

The grants – administered through the Coast Guard’s Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund – will be used to support the Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program and Sober Skipper Program.

“We couldn’t be more excited to continue to receive such resounding support from our friends at the Coast Guard,” said Gail R. Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “These grants will go a long way toward saving lives on waterways all throughout the country, both this year and beyond.”

The Coast Guard has awarded the Foundation’s seminal Life Jacket Loaner Program with $210,000 for the coming year – an increase of nearly 8 percent year-over-year. In addition, the Sea Tow Foundation has been awarded the same amount for the following two years to guarantee that the Life Jacket Loaner Program will continue well into the future.

The grant money will be used toward increasing the number of Life Jacket Loaner Stations – of which there are currently more than 575 across the country. In addition, it will help fund replenishments and repairs of existing stations. Applications for next summer’s life jackets and loaner stations will begin on November 1, 2019 on the Sea Tow Foundation’s website. Kulp said more information will be shared this fall.

The Life Jacket Loaner Program grant will also help in the development and maintenance of an online database of life jacket loaner station locations around the country, along with a map of those locations,

A second grant of $120,000 has been awarded for the Sober Skipper program, which celebrated its sixth year in 2019. These funds will help the Foundation continue its goals of building greater awareness of the importance of sober boating through grassroots efforts to spread the message in boating communities around the country.

“Alcohol is the leading known contributor in fatal boating accidents, so our Sober Skipper program couldn’t be more important,” Kulp said. “Through these grants, we’ll be able to continue to increase the program’s reach through additional advertising and social media efforts.”

In the past year, the Sea Tow Foundation has established a brand-new American Sober Skipper Advisory Council, which works to unite the corporate and non-profit sectors of the boating industry around a shared message of safe boating. Grant funding will continue to support the Council, as well as fund a new component of the Council – a boating industry awards program to recognize and honor businesses who are promoting safe boating within their companies.

“It’s humbling to see so many influential members of the boating industry lock arms with one another through our Sober Skipper program,” Kulp added. “With the help of grants like these, we hope to do away with Boating Under the Influence for good.”


Tags:  2019-20  Grant  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Press Release  Sober Skipper Program  US Coast Guard 

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Boat Handling Skills to Know

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, August 1, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Boat Handling Skills to Know

Whether you are new to the boating community or have spent the majority of your life on the water, it is important to know some basic boat handling skills before operating a boat. This list of skills doesn’t take the place of on-water boating safety instruction but knowing how to do them correctly will allow you to maneuver your boat in any type of situation regardless of the wind or current, after a lot of practice.

Balance your Load

Before heading out on the water, it is important to balance the weight of the people and gear in the boat so that the boat can travel through the water with as little resistance as possible. If you are listing to the port side or if your bow is too far up in the air, it will be more difficult to steer and control the boat. You may find that you need to adjust the trim on your outboard engine as well to help balance things out.

Keep a Proper Look Out

Any time that you go boating, regardless of the speed, it is important to keep a proper look out. The boat operator needs to be aware of other boats and objects around the boat at all times, and look for ways to avoid collisions with them. It is often helpful to select one of your passengers to be your official look-out so that you can make sure that your full attention can be directed toward operating the boat.

Steering a Boat

The first thing to understand about operating a boat is that it steers from the stern, or the back of the boat. This means that a boat will need more room to turn in close quarters, like in a marina, and you will need to start your turn much earlier than you may otherwise have thought. Also, because boats don’t have brakes, it is critical to proceed at a slow speed when operating in close quarters. Often, you’ll find that you can perform most docking and departing situations at or just above an idle speed. Slow and steady is best.

Accounting for the Wind or Current

A boater needs to be aware of the wind speed and direction as well as whether there is a current. While the wind is often more noticeable because you can feel it and see flags or tree branches moving, the current can be more tricky to detect because it is underwater. Both can have a tremendous impact on your boat’s steering and maneuverability, and neither should be ignored. It is important to learn how to “hold station” or remain in one place regardless of the impact of wind or current so that you can maneuver your boat where you want it to go rather than where Mother Nature is trying to take it..

Docking the Boat

Knowing how to safely end your boating trip at the dock is often the most difficult boat handling skill to master. This is because no two docking maneuvers are the same. One day, you may be able to pull alongside a dock without difficulty while another day may be more challenging because of the number of other boats nearby and the small space available to maneuver. Plus, the previously mentioned wind or current can cause troubles. Visit the marina on a weekday in the morning when it will not be as busy to give you plenty of practice space and time without lots of other people around..

Bonus Tip: Always be or designate a sober skipper!

Operating a boat can be tricky even on a perfect weather day with the perfect crew but attempting to maneuver a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can have deadly consequences. If you are the operator of the boat, make sure you remain sober and alert at all times, otherwise, designate someone else to be the sober skipper to keep everyone safe. Take the Pledge today at

Tags:  2018-19  Boating Safety  Docking  Life Jacket  Sober Skipper  Steering 

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5 Personal Watercraft Safety Tips from the Sea Tow Foundation

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, July 25, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2020

5 Personal Watercraft Safety Tips from the Sea Tow Foundation

A personal watercraft (PWC) is often referred to by the various brand names such as Jet Ski or Ski Doo. Riding a PWC can be a lot of fun, but just like operating any motorized vessel, it is important to follow some safety tips to make sure that your time on the water is safe and enjoyable.

  1. Always wear your life jacket. You want to pick a life jacket that is rated for impact and approved for use on a PWC. The life jacket should fit well without being loose and no loose clothing should be worn, either. Also, make sure that any passengers wear a life jacket, too.
  2. Attach the engine cut-off lanyard to your life jacket. That way, if you get thrown overboard, the PWC engine will stop and it will be easier to get back on the vessel. Without the safety lanyard, many PWC will continue to run in circles which can seriously injure people in the water..
  3. Each PWC is required to carry a fire extinguisher. Make sure that the fire extinguisher is up to date and ready for use.
  4. Schedule your PWC for regular maintenance according to the owner’s manual. After a certain number of hours of operation, you will need to check the vessel for signs of wear and replace any worn out parts. If you aren’t sure how to do this, have a certified marine mechanic do this for you.
  5. Take a boating safety class. In many states, PWC operators may be required to take a course with laws different than traditional motor boats. Check with your state boating law agency in the state where you plan to use your PWC.

Tags:  Jet Ski  Life Jacket  Personal Watercraft  PWC 

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5 Boating Knots You Need to Know

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, June 27, 2019
Updated: Thursday, February 6, 2020

5 Boating Knots You Need to Know

For an experienced skipper or crew member, tying the right boating knot for the task at hand is often a point of pride as well as safety and security. Attaching a new anchor? You’ll want to use an anchor bend, of course. Tying up to a dock? Then a cleat hitch or rolling hitch might be in order.

Beginner boaters, on the other hand, sometimes seem overwhelmed when it comes to boating knots, and who could blame them? There are dozens if not hundreds of specialized knots used to do everything from making vessels fast to pilings to stowing a coiled rope in a tidy manner so it will be at the ready whenever needed.

While many knots excel at a dedicated function others are versatile enough to be used in a variety of situations. That means you only have to master a few basic ones to get started. Still, like anything else in the boating world, it’s best to putter before you cruise. Following are five essential boating knots all boat owners and crew members should know. Master these and you should be fine in most situations. Add a couple new ones to your repertoire each year, and you’ll soon know enough boating knots to handle any on the water situation.

While directions are provided for each of the boating knots that follow, it’s tough to beat animated illustrations for instruction purposes. For that reason, we suggest visiting and Both sites show a variety of boating knots that will come in handy and their illustrations are top shelf. We’ve provided links to each should you need further assistance.


1. The Cleat Hitch

Used to tie boats and PWC to docks, bulkheads and boat lifts via cleats, this knot is quick, easy to tie, and doesn’t slip. For many, it’s the first boating knot to be mastered.

1. Wrap the line completely around the far horn (arm) of the cleat.

2. Pull the line over the near horn and wrap it under the far horn again.

3. Wrap the line under and then over the first horn again to form a figure eight pattern.

4. Form an underhand loop and slip it over the near horn.

5. Pull the free end of the rope tight to firmly secure the knot.


2. Rolling Hitch

This easy-to-tie knot is used for fastening a rope to a piling, pole or even a tree.

1. Wrap the tag end of the line fully around a secure piling or pole. The tag end should cross over the standing line.

2. Wrap the tag end of the line fully around the piling or pole a second time, again crossing over the standing line.

3. Make a third wrap around the piling or pole but keep this wrap above the standing line.

4. Slip the tag end of the line under the third wrap and pull tight to secure.


3. Double Half Hitch

Perhaps the simplest boating knot to tie, a double half-hitch is nothing more than two half hitches (overhand knots) tied side-by-side. This knot is great for securing a small boat to a horizontal post, or as a support knot to ensure another knot will not slip. Some boaters simply tie a single half hitch but be aware that this can slip, making the double-half hitch a far better knot to choose under most circumstances.

1. Wrap the tag end of the rope around the post and secure with a simple overhand knot (half hitch).

2. Tie a second half hitch alongside the first (the tag line should thread between the line loops).

3. Pull the tag end tight to secure.


4. Anchor Bend

The anchor bend, sometimes called an anchor hitch, is used to fasten an anchor to its rope. The tag end after finishing the knot is best secured with seizing but adding a double half hitch will do in a pinch.

1.  Wrap the tag end loosely twice around the anchor shackle being sure to leave enough tag end for finishing the knot.

2.Pass the tag end behind the standing line and then bring it through both loops in front of the standing line.

3. Wrap the tag end around the standing line again, passing it beneath the new loop to form a half hitch.

4. Pull the tag end to tighten the knot securely.

5. Seize the tag end to secure the knot or use a double half hitch knot as temporary reinforcement to ensure the anchor bend does not loosen and pull free.


5. Sailor's Coil

The Sailor’s Coil relies on a couple of half hitches to securely keep a rope coiled so it will be easy to grab, transport and make ready without unraveling.

1. With the rope neatly coiled, make a half hitch around the top section of the coil.

2. Pull the tag end relatively tight and make a second half hitch.

3. Pull the tag end tight again to snug up the knot and keep the coil neatly secured.

4. If you want additional security, you can now tie a double half hitch knot with the remaining tag end of the line.


This article has been republished by permission of Sea Tow and was published on their blog at

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Knots 

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Tips for Loading and Unloading Your Vessel at the Boat Ramp

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, June 13, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Tips for Loading and Unloading Your Vessel at the Boat Ramp

With boating season for most of the country underway, countless boaters are already out sharing in one of America’s greatest pastimes. This can sometimes lead to lines at the boat ramp and busy waterways, which at times, can lead to problems. In light of this, we wanted to make sure our members are prepared with a few boat-ramp tips to keep in mind as they kick-off the new season.

One Sea Tow member, Randall, recently reached out to tell us about he and his family’s recent fiasco at their local boat ramp. Instead of letting it bring him down, Randall wanted to share it as a learning experience to his fellow members far and wide.

Randall and his family were finishing up a fun day of jet skiing on their local waterway. Upon returning to the ramp, he and his son-in-law were loading the jet skis back onto the trailer when peril struck.

With constantly changing conditions – whether it’s weather, water current or something else – no two boating excursions are identical. The same can be said for loading and unloading at the ramp, something Randall and his family experienced firsthand.

Randall’s son-in-law approached the ramp and got out of the vehicle as he’d been taught – engine off and emergency brake set – however, it was low tide. The ramp was wet and the algae that had accumulated throughout the summer made the surface extremely slippery. Long story short, before they knew it, the truck had slid into the water.

In light of the situation, Randall wanted to share a few tips to help boaters who might find themselves in a situation similar to his, with the hope they might come out the other side safe, sound and dry. Below are a few of his tips:

  1. “If the tide is half-to-low tide, I will lock the front axles on my four-wheel drive truck so that the front tires are mechanically locked in on drier pavement.”
    Sea Tow Says: This is a great practice to incorporate into your routine. Before backing down a ramp, note where the algae begins to accumulate and attempt to keep your vehicle off this area; you may not have the traction to recover your boat and trailer with the extra weight.  It may be necessary to wait until a higher tide, use a different lane of the ramp, or use a different ramp all together.
  2. “If my son-in-law (or someone else) is unloading or loading, we use wheel chocks and have a driver stay in the seat.”
    Sea Tow Says: It’s always a good idea to have a buddy help you load up so that someone is readily available to react if things don’t go according to plan. Wheel chocks are a great tool to prevent any sort of sliding, but only if if they are used against the wheels that are NOT on algae.
  3. “Those who are not helping load or unload should stay on land. No passengers are allowed in the truck if it’s on the ramp, just in case the vehicle does slide down.”
    Sea Tow Says: Follow in Randall’s family’s footsteps and have your friends and family wait on shore while you load up on the ramp.

In addition, we have a few tips of our own that both new boaters and those with years of experience can always practice to make sure the loading and unloading process goes as smoothly as possible.

  1. Take the time to make sure everything is ready and aligned before you start loading or unloading. Inspect the ramp’s conditions. Ensure your trailer and boat are ready to be moved. Line everything up carefully to ensure a smooth and safe process.
  2. Only back your trailer in as far as necessary. Backing it in too far may mean getting into the algae with your vehicle, as well as making it more difficult to properly seat your boat on the rollers or bunkers as you drive back up the ramp.
  3. Be aware of conditions. Make note of the tide, wind speeds and current. If you’re fighting rougher conditions, it can make it very difficult to align the vessel properly. Try handy little tips like facing the trailer ever-so-slightly downstream to make things a little easier.
  4. Make sure you’re ready for the worst. Your Sea Tow membership and a corresponding Sea Insure insurance plan can help you in case things go south.

Take the time to load and unload your boat the right way. Don’t become preoccupied with busy ramps or rushing to get home. Give yourself plenty of time and space. Take the proper care and you’ll be much more likely to have a safe and fun-filled day out on the water. After all, that’s what it’s all about!

This article has been republished by permission of Sea Tow and was published on their blog at  If you’d like to share your own boating story for consideration in the Sea Tow monthly newsletter, send them an email at


Tags:  2018-19  Boat Ramp  Sea Tow  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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Keep your Passengers Safe This Summer by Designating a Sober Skipper

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2020

Keep your Passengers Safe This Summer by Designating a Sober Skipper

Summer days are in full swing and we all want a great day on the water. On a boat, wind, vibration, noise, and the sun can impair balance, coordination, concentration, and these effects are only intensified when drinking alcohol.

Today, alcohol is the leading cause of fatal boating accidents, so designate a Sober Skipper before leaving the dock. If you are the skipper, stay alert and sober. Don’t drink alcohol. Do it for your family, your friends, your passengers and everyone else on the water. Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is 100 percent preventable.

That’s why we created the Sober Skipper program in 2015 – to provide boaters with a positive and proactive approach to preventing BUI accidents and fatalities. The program asks boaters to take the pledge to be or designate a sober skipper before every boating trip. The pledge notes that the boater operator will avoid alcohol and drug use when in charge of navigating the boat and will be in charge of the boat and all of its passengers to ensure that everyone arrives safely back on the dock at the end of the day.

Our friends at America’s Boating Club squadrons around the country have joined us in the effort to promote the Sober Skipper program. When squadrons conduct vessel safety checks, they’ll ask boaters to sign up to take the pledge be a sober skipper and they often hand out Sober Skipper wristbands as reminders.

“We’d like to extend a special thanks to the members of America’s Boating Club who have shown their commitment to keeping boaters safe and sober through their vessel safety checks,” said Gail R. Kulp, the Foundation’s executive director. “After all, as boaters, when our hands are on the helm, lives are in our hands and it is up to us to keep everyone safe on the water.”

Get on board and take the pledge today to be responsible for yourself, your vessel, and your passengers. By designating a Sober Skipper, you’re keeping yourself and your loved ones safe, which leads to more beautiful summer days together out on the water. Find out more at

Tags:  2018-19  Americas Boating Club  Sober Skipper  US Coast Guard  US Power Squadrons 

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Sober Skipper Advisory Council undertakes new safety, award initiatives

Posted By Michael Wesolowski, Saturday, May 25, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 5, 2020

Sober Skipper Advisory Council undertakes new safety, award initiatives

The Sea Tow Foundation’s recently appointed North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council held its first meeting in early May to finalize its mission and to establish short-term priorities.
According to Sea Tow Foundation Executive Director Gail Kulp, the purpose and mission of the new council has been reviewed and adopted by its executive task force and the 13 key stakeholder members representing the recreational marine industry.
“We created this new organization to help bridge the gap between the non-profit recreational boating safety community and the for-profit industry,” said Kulp. ”Our council represents the for-profit segment of the recreational boating industry and our desire is to discuss and address general boating safety issues in addition to our Sea Tow Foundation’s signature programs including the Life Jacket Loaner Program and the Sober Skipper Program. By collaborating with council members, we hope to work together to help strengthen overall industry messaging, awareness and adoption of boating safety initiatives.”    
To that effect, top on the agenda was a council-wide introduction to National Safe Boating Week May 18-25. While many were well aware of the annual push and promotion for boating safety messaging prior to the busy Memorial Day weekend, Sea Tow Foundation encouraged active support and engagement through individual and corporate social media initiatives. In addition, Sea Tow Foundation provided a marketing support toolkit for council member to access including relevant content and imagery reflecting boating safety themes.
“The more the recreational boating industry gets on board promoting boating safety, the stronger and more impactful the message will be to general boating public,” said Kulp. “We’ve also invited our council members to share their own company boating safety initiatives and have been very impressed by the good work many of these organizations have already initiated.”
Besides National Safe Boating Week, the council discussed and is underway in the development of a new national boating safety awards program directed to the for-profit segment of the marketplace.
“While there are already boating safety award programs in place in several pockets of the industry, many are sponsored by or recognize the great work of the not-for-profit community and governmental/non-governmental boating agencies,” said Kulp. “Because our effort is targeting the for-profit sector, our awards program will pay tribute to the outstanding work of companies, organizations and individuals within the recreational for-profit boating space.”
The council has formed subcommittees and is currently working to further develop award program plans, parameters, categories and criteria for judging, with the goal to announce and launch the initiative later this year.
“Our executive task force is very enthusiastic by the positive energy and high level of support for boating safety among our council members,” said Kulp. “We look forward to further building upon a strong foundation of boating safety and helping to expand and enhance recreational boating safety efforts moving forward.”

Tags:  Boating Industry  NASSAC  Sober Skipper 

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