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Get into the Spirit of Giving with a Life Jacket Drive this Holiday Season

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, November 15, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Get into the Spirit of Giving with a Life Jacket Drive this Holiday Season

With the winter holidays just around the corner, there’s no better time than now to get into the spirit of giving. And if you’re a boater that cares about safety, there’s no better way to give than by collecting new or gently used life jackets for use at a local Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station!

As everyone is putting up their boats for the winter up north or making plans to take a break from boating during the busy winter months down south, this is the best time to gather up any life jackets that may not be needed next season. Whether the kids have outgrown the life jackets or they have become surplus in your boat’s supply, gently used life jackets can still help save a life on your local waterways.

Hosting a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Drive is an easy way to make a huge impact on your local boating community. Simply visit www.lifejacketdrive.org and download the program manual, signage, flyers and other promotional materials to get the word out about your drive. You can also request box labels for your life jacket collection boxes and those will be mailed to you for free.

Many organizations that accept donations of clothing, toys and household items can’t accept life jackets because the staff lack the training to identify whether the life jackets meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements. Thankfully, the Life Jacket Drive’s Program Manual provides you with the tools to confidently inspect the donated life jackets, including a checklist like the one shown below.

Add it all up, and there’s no better time to host a Life Jacket Drive in your hometown. This holiday season protect a life by donating a vest. And, best of all, the donated life jackets will stay in your local boating community as part of a life jacket loaner station that local boaters can borrow and return.

Tags:  2019-20  Grants  Life Jacket  Life Jacket Drive  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Life Jacket Loaner Station Grant 

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Sea Tow Foundation’s Sober Skipper Program is Saving Lives

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, November 7, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sea Tow Foundation’s Sober Skipper Program is Saving Lives

The Sea Tow Foundation has announced the 2017-2018 grant findings for its Sober Skipper program. First launched in 2015 and now in more than 180 cities across 51 states and territories, the program encourages boaters to be or to designate a Sober Skipper before every boating trip. The Sober Skipper campaign is funded through a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

In the United States, Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) thresholds differ from state to state regarding who is permitted to operate a boat. Likewise, the penalties for Boating Under the Influence (BUI) vary, even though BUI has consistently been the top contributing factor of fatal boating accidents. Yet not a single state has a law in place that prohibits boaters from possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages while their boat is being used for recreational purposes, as long as the operator stays below the state’s BAC threshold.

The Sea Tow Foundation is trying to change that, and for the first time in the history of the Sober Skipper Program, it is able to prove that the campaign is having a positive effect on the number of BUI deaths, injuries and accidents, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Accident Statistics.

Among the 51 states and territories that have boating communities who have embraced the Sober Skipper Program, 94 percent have seen a reduction of BUI-related deaths, accidents or injuries, and a total of seven states saw a reduction in BUI across all three categories. Gail R. Kulp, the Sea Tow Foundation’s executive director, said this is definitive proof that the Foundation’s Sober Skipper Campaign is working and that the grassroots efforts used to promote the message have been successful.

“We have seen over 8.4 million people be reached by the Sober Skipper Program this year,” Kulp said. “This is an 800 percent increase and, based on the grant funding provided, this means that it cost less than one cent per person to make a difference and save lives.”

The media generated by the Sober Skipper Program this year was valued at over $215,000 which is more than double the amount of grant funding that the project was awarded. There was also an increase in the number of organizations, agencies and private citizens who requested a set of Sober Skipper wristbands to host a “Take the Pledge” event.

“These results are a big win, not only for the Sea Tow Foundation, but for the boating public at large,” Kulp added. “They illustrate that when the boating community comes together, great things can be achieved. We can’t wait to carry this momentum into the future and hopefully cut BUI deaths to zero.”

To Take the Pledge to be a Sober Skipper or request materials to host an event, visit www.soberskipper.com.

Tags:  2017-18  2019-20  BUI  Funding  Grants  News  Partner  Press Release  Sober Skipper  US Coast Guard  Website 

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Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Use Hits Records at NMMA Boat Shows

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, November 1, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Use Hits Records at NMMA Boat Shows

Thanks to Life Jacket Loaner Stations set up by the Sea Tow Foundation, more than 34,000 attendees at the NMMA-hosted 2019 Tampa and Norwalk Boat Shows left with a better understanding of the importance of life jacket use.

Through partnerships with the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Onyx, the Sea Tow Foundation set up two Life Jacket Loaner Stations at each of the boat shows and loaned out more than 400 life jackets across the two events, which were held in late September and late October.

The stations are part of the Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program – which features more than 575 locations nationwide where boaters can borrow life jackets for free and return them at the end of their boating trip.

The Life Jacket Loaner Stations at the Norwalk and Tampa Boat Shows helped to ensure that life jackets were made available for children and adults visiting the shows as they perused the docks and toured the various boats and other exhibits on display at the shows.

Each Life Jacket Loaner Station was staffed by volunteers from several local organizations, as well as local Sea Tow members and other community volunteers. By the time the shows concluded, more than 54 volunteers offered up their time to help spread awareness on the importance of life jackets.

“It’s so great to see so many different people using our life jackets at these shows,” said Gail R. Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “With each person who borrows a life jacket or sees our life jacket loaner stations, we’re able to help spread a vital message on the importance of life jackets and always having them any time you are in or around the water. These shows are such a great opportunity to help further our cause to ensure boating is safe and fun for everyone involved.”

Kulp added that the Foundation’s presence at the shows was especially beneficial to children and their families, as it provided a valuable learning experience for boaters of all ages.

“Children are required by law to always wear life jackets, so getting them familiar with them at these shows is a great service to boaters,” Kulp said. “Having the opportunity to show these young children, in particular, that life jacket use can be simple, easy and, most of all, fun has a profound impact on the boating community as a whole. We’re so thankful to be able to team up with our friends at NMMA to help spread these important messages at their shows.”

To learn more about the Sea Tow Foundation and its programs, or to find a Life Jacket Loaner Station near you, visit www.boatingsafety.com.

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety  Life Jacket  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Life Jacket Loaner Station Grant  National Marine Manufacturers Association  News  Onyx Outdoor  Partner  Press Release  Vest Friends. Volunteers 

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Apply Today to Host a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station!

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, October 31, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Apply Today to Host a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station!

Is your company, team, organization or club passionate about boating? Are you looking for a way to engage with your local community to make an impact and save lives? Now’s your chance, because the Sea Tow Foundation is officially accepting applications to set up new or restock existing Life Jacket Loaner Stations.

In case you’re not familiar with our Life Jacket Loaner Program, the Sea Tow Foundation started the program 12 years ago thanks to grant funds from the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Sea Tow Foundation works with organizations all throughout the country to establish and maintain a network of close to 600 life jacket loaner stations where local boaters can borrow a life jacket for the day, free of charge. And the life jackets are saving lives on waterways both near and far.

If your organization is interested in hosting a Life Jacket Loaner Station in your hometown, simply complete the online application by February 1, 2020.

In April 2020, the selected organizations will be sent Onyx Outdoor life jackets ranging in sizes from infant to adult XL, as well as informational brochures on the importance of life jacket use. In addition, organizations will receive a manual detailing how to maintain the loaner station, announce the opening of the station to the local media, and complete monthly reports describing how the life jackets are used.

New this year, reimbursement may be provided to organizations interested in building a loaner stand locally or working with a local group to help in building a stand. If you are selected to receive the reimbursement, signage will be provided, as well as building plans.

Now is your chance to make a difference in your local boating community! Submit your application today! We look forward to working with you in 2020!

 

Tags:  2019-20  Life Jacket  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Life Jacket Loaner Station Grant  US Coast Guard  Vest Friends  Website 

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A Visit to Sea Tow Southcentral Alaska

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, October 25, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

A Visit to Sea Tow Southcentral Alaska

In early October, Sea Tow Foundation Executive Director, Gail Kulp, had the opportunity to visit Alaska for the first time to attend a conference. While there, Gail stopped in to see Captain Trey Hill, owner of Sea Tow Southcentral Alaska. Trey owns three Sea Tow locations in Southcentral Alaska: Homer, Seward and Whittier.

Homer is the southernmost location for Capt. Trey. Located roughly 4 hours south of Anchorage, Homer is  home to many shops and restaurants as well as a bustling port for container ships, commercial fishing vessels and thousands of recreational boaters. Sea Tow’s Southcentral Alaskan office is located in town, with a boat docked in port providing boaters peace-of-mind 24/7/365. The Sea Tow Foundation’s life jacket loaner station is also available 24/7/365 for anyone who needs to borrow a life jacket to help ensure a safe day on the water.

Whittier is the easternmost location for Capt. Trey, a glacier-viewing paradise on Prince William Sound, about an hour southeast of Anchorage. Access to Whittier is controlled by the longest combined-use tunnel in North America. The tunnel is one lane and controlled on a tight schedule in 15 minute increments. This allows for vehicle traffic to flow in both directions as well as allow for a train to pass through the tunnel. There is always a full-time captain on Trey’s staff in Whittier to ensure prompt service for boaters; and eliminating any wait for tunnel traffic before Sea Tow help arrives.

Seward, one of the oldest communities in Alaska, is located on Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula about 2 ½ hours south of Anchorage. As a popular cruise port, Seward offers many activities to entertain cruise passengers including kayaking, fishing, whale watching cruises, shopping, or taking a ride on the Alaska Railroad (which begins in Seward). Seward is also very popular among recreational boaters. Gail was lucky enough to get a personal tour from Capt. Trey on a Sea Tow boat. They took in the amazing views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and were lucky enough to see a few otters playing around in the crystal blue waters, which was a highlight for Makena, the dog, who wanted to join in on their fun.

Note from Gail: I fell in love with Alaska and, knowing that the state is 2 ½ times the size of Texas and that I’d only managed to see a small segment of it during my visit, I know that another trip will be in my future and I'm going to bring my family along! Who knows, maybe I’ll be one of the cruise ship passengers coming into port on my next trip! Why don't you plan a trip of your own?

 

 

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  2019-20  Life Jacket  Life Jacket Loaner Partnership  Life Jacket Loaner Station Grant  Life Jacket Program  News  Onyx Outdoor  Partner  Press Release  US Coast Guard  Vest Friends  Website. 

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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:

1.

.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!

2.

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.

3.

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 Michael Wesolowski, 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:

 

 Check that everyone has a properly fitted life jacket

Does everyone knows where the fire extinguishers and emergency flares are located?

Look at the fuel gauge and make sure the tank is full.

Find out where the first aid kit is kept on the boat

Double check the navigation lights and horn.

Help the captain perform a radio check with the VHF radio.

Does the weather forecast look okay?

Make sure you have drinking water and plenty of sunblock on board.

 

 You can purchase a set of First Mate Checklists by clicking here.


 

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 www.soberskipper.com.

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

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