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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

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

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