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Sea Tow Foundation Launches Our Newly Redesigned Website

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, March 12, 2020

Sea Tow Foundation Launches Our Newly Redesigned Website

We are excited to launch our newly redesigned website that is packed with information for recreational boaters to help keep family and friends safe on the water. The refreshed website also has resources for the marine industry to utilize in their promotions to reach out to their customers.

One of the amazing features of our new site, which is still found at boatingsafety.com, is that it is now completely functional and responsive on mobile and desktop versions allowing information to be easily found and shared related to our Life Jacket Loaner Program and our Sober Skipper program as well as plenty of other boating safety resources including our online shop, which now boasts plenty of printed materials and program supplies available for free or can be downloaded and printed at no charge at your home or office.

A favorite feature on our “Get Involved” page allows our supporters to interact with each other in ways we’ve never explored before which will provide an even greater value to the boating community nationwide, at no charge to them. Registration is free and you’ll not only receive access to our new newsletter, but also be able to join groups of dedicated people who are already working together to eliminate boating under the influence and reduce drowning incidents.

Our blog has been completely redesigned and is now easier to search for articles about boating safety classes, seasonal boating safety tips, being prepared for a day on the water, and so much more.

We hope you like the changes, and if you have any feedback, please let us know on Facebook and Instagram or click on the Contact Us link on our website.

Tags:  2019-20  boating safety  Life Jacket  Sea Tow  Sober Skipper  Website. 

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Spring Break Boating Safety Tips

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, March 9, 2020

Spring Break Boating Safety Tips

Spring is here which means it is time for that epic spring break trip that you’ve had planned for months! Warm weather, sunny skies, and fun with friends or family members on the boat are just days away, but before you pack those bags and head out on your spring break trip, the Sea Tow Foundation has some tips to help you have a safe AND fun spring break trip.

1.    Take a Boating Safety Class Now. Many states or other countries require a boating license or for the boater to at least take a boating safety class before renting a boat or putting your boat in their waters. Whether you’re a new boat owner or have years of experience, you’ll pick up some pointers and boost your marine confidence as well as satisfy requirements for boaters in that particular location. Courses are offered online or in person through our friends at the USCG Auxiliary or the America’s Boating Club.

2.    Ask for Advice. Spring break trips often involve traveling to new and exciting destinations. If you are unfamiliar with the bay, lake, river or ocean you’re headed to—especially on vacation—it’s smart to talk to locals. Sea Tow captains in the area will happily share water conditions, current patterns, routes and (bonus!) wildlife watching tips.

3.    Pack the sunscreen. If you’re not used to the sun and warmer temperatures or with being outdoors for a good portion of the day, you will soon by surprised by a nasty sunburn. Put on some sunscreen and don’t forget a hat and sunglasses, too.

4.    Reserve now. If you are planning to rent a boat during spring break, make sure you’ve got the rental confirmed well in advance of your trip and reach out to the company ahead of time to see if you need to bring anything for the boat with you. They should provide you with an orientation to your rental boat as well as all of the safety equipment required. If you are taking your own boat on spring break, make sure your boat trailer is ready to roll and that you know the boat ramp locations as well as where you can park your vehicle and trailer while you’re out on the water.

5.    Once you get to your trip, follow the ABCD rule.

 

a.    Always Wear Life Jackets. Every passenger should wear a properly fitted U.S Coast Guard (USCG)-approved life jacket. And remember that adult-size life jackets aren’t meant for children. If you’ve forgotten to pack your own or need extras, you can always stop by a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station to borrow them for the day.

b.    Bring along safety gear. Emergency preparation = peace of mind. No matter the size of your boat, these are the absolute essentials to keep on board:

  •                         Marine VHF radio
  •                         First aid kit
  •                         Fire extinguisher
  •                         Tool kit
  •                         Flashlight and extra batteries
  •                         Duct tape
  •                         Bucket
  •                         Waterproof whistle or horn
  •                         Lines
  •                        Signaling mirror

c.     Check—and Recheck—the Weather. Choppy waters can’t always be predicted. If conditions aren’t favorable, don’t chance it. There are many apps and websites that help you know the conditions before you go. One of our favorite tide and weather apps can be found at Windfinder.com.

d.    Designate a Sober Skipper. Never, ever operate a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The wind, sun and boat vibration all contribute to increased impairment, even after a single beer. Responsible boaters carry plenty of water, non-alcoholic drinks and food on board. To learn more check out our  Sober Skipper program.

6.    Share Your Trip to Social. Did your spring break boating trip really happen if you didn’t document it? Be sure to tag us in all your photos and adventures on Instagram (@seatowfoundation) and Facebook (@SeaTowFoundation)

 

Have a fantastically fun and super safe spring break!

 

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety Course  Fire Extinguisher  Float Plan  Life Jacket  Sober Skipper  spring break  Weather 

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Sea Tow Foundation Holiday Gift Ideas for the Boater in Your Life

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, December 13, 2019
Updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sea Tow Foundation Holiday Gift Ideas for the Boater in Your Life

 

Tis the season to be jolly! That means it’s time to wrap up your holiday shopping and grab some last-minute gifts for friends and family.

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Many people have the thought that boaters are difficult to shop for, but we have a whole boat load of partners that make the perfect gifts for your favorite boater this holiday season. Just a few can be found below:.

  • A brand-new life jacket from Onyx Outdoor – There’s no better gift than safety this holiday season! And whether the boater in your life is a lifelong boater or is just getting started, a life jacket makes a great gift. For your favorite boater, check out Onyx’s line of awesome inflatable life jackets, which allow wearers full mobility without sacrificing safety!.

  • A boating safety course from America’s Boating Club – Keeping with the theme of safety, a boating safety class is a great idea for a holiday gift for those looking to cut down on stuff! There are classes for all types of boaters, so whether your gift recipient is an experienced boater looking to learn a new skill or someone who just started boating this year, there’s no shortage of seminars to take!.

  • A handheld VHF Radio from Cobra – A working emergency radio is so important when you need help, and cell phones often don’t get service when out boating on many waterways. Make sure your loved one can call for help whenever and wherever they boat with a new VHF radio..

  • An Overboard Wireless emergency cutoff device from FELL Marine – Engine cutoff devices can be a crucial piece to the boating safety puzzle, but there are countless boaters out there who don’t use theirs because the typical lanyard designs can limit movement. A wireless cutoff device allows full movement around the vessel while still providing the safety needed if someone unexpectedly ends up in the water so that the engine and propeller can be automatically shut off..

  • Sunglasses from Fishgillz – Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for the boater or angler in your life? Look no further than a set of Fishgillz sunglasses! These sunglasses pair polarized lenses with a special floating technology to combine comfort, style, and function all into one package!.

  • Sea Tow membership –There’s no better gift for your favorite boater than Peace of Mind on the Water. Whether your boating buddies are on lakes, rivers or the open ocean, a Sea Tow membership can be the perfect gift. Memberships come complete with tows, fuel deliveries, jump starts, covered ungroundings and so much more. You can even buy the membership instantly online, making it the perfect last-minute holiday gift in the days, hours and even minutes leading up to whenever your friends and family open their presents!

Tags:  2019-20  Americas Boating Club  Cobra  Engine Cutoff Device  Fell Marine  Fishgillz  Life Jacket  Onyx Outdoor  Sea Tow  US Coast Guard  VHF Radio  Winter 

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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 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?

 

 

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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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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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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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