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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?



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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:


.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 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

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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Tow Bee Boating Boating Safety Tip: Stay Hydrated!

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, June 24, 2019
Updated: Sunday, March 29, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Stay Hydrated!

Tow Bee wants all boaters to know that dehydration is a doozie. Long days out on your boat combined with constant sunshine can lead to dehydration quicker than you might realize; and when sugary drinks like soda and juice are involved, those risks can be even higher. So, when you’re packing up the cooler for a day out on the water, be sure to include plenty of water for everyone on board. That means several bottles for each passenger if you’re going to be out all day!
It is especially important to limit alcohol consumption while on the water or skip it all together. Alcoholic beverages mixed with the sun, motion of the boat and the heat can be a dangerous combination. But, if alcoholic drinks are included in your boating plans, please designate a Sober Skipper before leaving the dock to ensure everyone’s safety.


Tags:  2018-19  Dehydration  Hydration  Sun  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips  Water 

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