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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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Start Preparing Now For Hurricane Season

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Updated: Monday, April 6, 2020


Start Preparing Now For Hurricane Season

Hurricane seasons just started, but as many people know, giant storms can decide to take aim at any time throughout the year. While the potential impact and landfall of these storms is unknown, boaters still should be prepared and know what steps need to be taken.

“It’s hard to predict how many named storms and hurricanes will actually make landfall, which can be detrimental to lives, homes and our watercraft,” said Captain Joe Frohnhoefer III, Sea Tow’s chief executive officer. “We urge all boaters to start planning now, just in case a storm takes aim at their state.”

With this in mind, Sea Tow offers boaters the following tips from its experienced Coast Guard-licensed Captains on how to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

Get started now:

Ensure You’re Insured.

A boat that is damaged by a hurricane can wind up costing far more to fix than a marine insurance policy costs annually. Review your boat policy’s requirements and be sure to comply with them. Boat owners whose insurance requires them to relocate their vessels out of a hurricane zone should do so by the date specified in their policy. Call Sea Insure with any questions you may have, 877-568-1672.

Man with a Plan.

Most insurance providers require a formal written Storm Plan detailing where and how your boat must be secured during a major storm. Designate a responsible person to execute the plan if you are out of town when a hurricane threatens.

No Loose Cannons.

Check with your marina, storage facility or the owner of the private dock where your boat is moored to be sure the vessel can remain there during a hurricane. If it can stay, know the procedure for securing not only your boat, but those docked around it, as well. A boat that breaks loose in a hurricane can wind up damaging your boat.

Smooth Move.

If you have to move your boat from its current slip in the event of a storm, decide where you are going to have it hauled before a hurricane is forecast. Check with your local Sea Tow operator to see what pre-storm haul-out services are offered in your area.

Shoot Your Boat.

 Make an inventory, preferably by video, of all valuable fixed items such as marine electronics that you cannot remove from your boat. Store all the boat’s documents, including your marine insurance policy, in a secure place off the vessel.

Lastly, keep an eye to the sky and closely monitor local and national weather services, including NOAA Weather Radio and the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center

The original post is republished with permission from Sea Tow Services International. Other articles on lots of topics can be found on Sea Tow News.


Everyone’s life has changed as a result of the Coronavirus, but boating can still be a wonderful activity to participate in while practicing social distancing. The Sea Tow Foundation wants to encourage you to get out on the water and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, but we ask that you do it safely and legally. We’ve compiled a list of 10 Dos and Don’ts to help you plan a great day on the water. Read more

Tags:  2018-2019  Americas Boating Club;NOAA  Hurricane  Sea Insure 

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Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Keep Sunshine in Mind!

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, June 14, 2019
Updated: Sunday, March 29, 2020

Tow Bee Boating Safety Tip: Keep Sunshine in Mind!

If there’s one thing that can instantly put a damper on your summer vacation, it’s sunburn. We’ve all been there, yet every summer, many of us end up as red as a tomato at some point or another. Long days out on the water mean more sun exposure than you might be used to. Combine that with getting in and out of the water to swim and cool off which leads to the sunscreen being washed off and it is easy to forget to reapply.

Next time you head out, grab plenty of sunscreen and set a timer to help remind you to reapply it every hour. If you’re out fishing or plan to be in the sun for extended periods of time without the shade of a canopy or umbrella available, consider a wide-brimmed hat and a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt. Many companies now make clothing with UV protection built in to the fabric. You can also wear a neck wrap to cover your neck, ears and the lower part of your face. And, of course, don’t forget to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun and reflections.

Whatever you choose, be extra careful this summer so you don’t end up with the pain and discomfort of sunburn. And, it is important to know that sunburn can take place anytime during the rest of the year, too.

Click here for more Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips


Tags:  2018-19  Sun  Sunscreen  Sunshine  Tow Bee Boating Safety Tips 

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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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Free Automated Radio Checks are Available Year Round

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, May 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Free Automated Radio Checks are Available Year Round

Your VHF radio is your go-to communication device on the water, so you’ll want to make sure it’s working properly before you leave the dock. As you get ready for boating season during this year’s National Safe Boating Week, consider taking advantage of Sea Tow’s free Automated Radio Check Service. You can use it to check your radio year-round!

Sea Tow provides this free service to boating communities throughout the nation. In fact, it’s available not only to Sea Tow members, but to all boaters as a public service. It helps prevent boaters from using VHF Channel 16 for radio checks, as this is the international channel designed for urgent issues and emergencies.

Instead, by providing non-urgent channels for automated checks, boaters can ensure their radios are functioning properly without clogging Channel 16.

It’s simple to ensure your radio is functioning properly through an automated check. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Turn your radio to the appropriate channel based on your community: 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, or 84.
  2. Conduct a radio check as normal.
  3. When you release the mic, the system will replay your transmission back to let you hear how you sound.

And that’s it! To find out which channel applies to your community, check out our list here.

We hope you’ll use the Sea Tow Automated Radio Check Service all year long before every boating trip. Our goal is to ensure boaters are equipped with an effective communication channel while they’re out on the water. After all, you never know when you’ll lose signal on your cell phone. Your radio is always going to be the trustworthy option and is designed specifically for communication out on the water.

In addition, we’d like to extend a special thanks to our friends at Shakespeare Marine, who help make Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check Service possible. We’re sure you already know Shakespeare as a leader for all things related to marine antennae, and we’re thankful for their commitment to help fund and support this important public service.


Tags:  2018-19  Automated Radio Check  Boating Safety  Education  National Safe Boating Week  Sea Tow  Sea Tow Services International  Tow Bee 

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National Safe Boating Week 2019- Wear your Life Jacket to Work Day

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, May 16, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 7, 2020

National Safe Boating Week 2019- Wear your Life Jacket to Work Day

Today, boaters all around the country are putting on their trusty life jackets and heading into work to help promote boating and life jacket safety.

So, grab your favorite life jacket and help kick off another National Safe Boating Week and encourage your co-workers to do the same! You can even help spread the message of fun and safe boating by bringing in extra life jackets for your co-workers who may not be avid boaters themselves. Snap some pics and share them on social media using the hashtags #LifeJacket2Work19 #BoatingSafety #BoatingSafetyWeek #VestFriends #NSBW19

At the Sea Tow Foundation, we want each and every trip out on the water to be as fun and safe as possible. Help us make this National Safe Boating Week the best one ever and Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day!

Tags:  2018-19  National Safe Boating Week  Tips  Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day 

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