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Sea Tow Foundation Announces Official Call for Entry for National Boating Industry Safety Awards

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Updated: Friday, August 28, 2020


Sea Tow Foundation Announces Official Call for Entry for National Boating Industry Safety Awards

North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council Expands Recognition Program; Announces New Title Sponsorship from KICKER® Marine Audio


Southold, NY, September 3, 2020 – The Sea Tow Foundation in cooperation with its North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council, announced the official call for entry for its “National Boating Industry Safety Awards.”

The 2020 contest features an enhanced series of categories which recognize top boating safety programs and campaigns within the for-profit segment of the recreational marine industry. This year’s event includes 11 categories of entry, up from four the previous year.

“Due to the positive response from our inaugural contest in 2019, coupled with recommendations from our advisory council, we have nearly tripled the categories of entry in hopes of recognizing the outstanding work of many more boating safety advocates throughout all segments of the recreational marine industry,” said Sea Tow Foundation Executive Director Gail R. Kulp.

The 2020 National Boating Industry Safety Awards include the following categories for submission: Powerboat Manufacturer; Sailboat Manufacturer; Engine Manufacturer; Gear/Equipment Manufacturer; Human Powered (Canoe, Kayak, SUP) Manufacturer; Marine Retailer with up to 3 Locations; Marine Retailer with more than 3 Locations; Marine Media Outlets; Marine Marketing and Outreach; Marine Distributor; and a Multi-Year Campaign will also be available for any category.

Also new for 2020 is the title sponsorship from KICKER® Marine Audio, based in Stillwater, OK.

“KICKER Marine Audio is very pleased to contribute to this important effort that promotes boating safety within the recreational marine space,” said KICKER Marine Audio’s National Brand Manager Jeremy Bale. “The good work of leading marine organizations in educating and advancing boating safety messages benefits the entire industry, as well as boaters throughout the nation. KICKER is very proud to lend our support to this worthwhile and very important cause.”

“We appreciate the generous financial support of KICKER Marine Audio in helping to support our national awards program,” added Kulp. “We hope to continually build this program and involve many in the industry who share our passion and focus on boating safety.”

Entries may be submitted from September 3 through midnight, October 15, 2020 for any boating safety campaigns conducted between August 15, 2019 and August 15, 2020. A new multi-year category is also available to recognize ongoing boating safety programs and promotions.

Contest information and applications are available for download at along with information and samples from the 2019 winners.

Winners for the 2020 awards contest will be announced live during the MRAA’s Dealer Week scheduled for December 8 – 11, 2020 in Austin, TX.

“We highly encourage all those organizations throughout the marine industry involved in promoting boating safety to apply in this year’s awards competition,” said Kulp. “The Sea Tow Foundation and our North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council, coupled with the title sponsor KICKER Marine Audio, are very pleased to shine the spotlight on the best boating safety efforts by companies in the for-profit segment of the recreational marine industry.” 

Tags:  boating industry  boating safety  kicker marine audio  national boating industry safety awards  North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council  press release  sober skipper 

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Boating Safety Courses are Important

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, August 21, 2020

Boating Safety Courses are Important

Today is a great day to take a Boating Safety Course and get your boating license or boating certificate. Even with social distancing rules in place, there are still ways to complete a course to meet your state’s boating education requirements thanks to online boating safety courses that are now accepted by most states.  And, in case you needed a little more convincing why you should take a Boating Safety Course, the Sea Tow Foundation has included the following 5 reasons:

  1. It’s the Law: Most states require a boat operator to take and complete a boating safety course before operating any boat with a motor. This includes personal watercraft, small fishing boats, pontoons, sailboats that utilize their engine, and all other types of powerboats. And, you should also check the requirements for any other states that you might boat in as their requirements might be different.


  2. Boating Safety Courses Save Lives: According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Office of Boating Safety,70% of the deaths that occurred on boats across the country last year were operated by a person who had not taken any boating safety course.


  3. You Can Save Money: Taking a boating safety course will often result in a discount on your boat’s insurance policy which can save you money.


  4. Learn Something New: Even the most experienced boaters can learn something new or be reminded about something they may have forgotten. Laws and regulations are constantly changing, so a boating safety class will ensure that you are up to date on all your state’s requirements.


  5. Help the Sea Tow Foundation at the Same Time: Completing an interactive, online class from our friends at results in the Sea Tow Foundation getting a donation from every course graduate to help us promote boating safety in more locations in the U.S.


If you have any other questions about how to get your boating license or boating certificate, check out our article here for many frequently asked questions about taking a boating safety course.

Tags:  boating certificate  boating education  boating laws  boating license  boating safety  boating safety course  how to get your boating certificate  how to get your boating license 

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Sea Tow Foundation Needs Your Input to Build National Database of Life Jacket Loaner Stations

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, August 10, 2020
Updated: Thursday, August 6, 2020


Sea Tow Foundation Needs Your Input to Build a National Database of Life Jacket Loaner Stations


The Sea Tow Foundation – a national nonprofit dedicated to the education and awareness of safe boating practices – announced today that it is collecting data from individuals and organizations around the country that operate life jacket loaner stations in an effort to create a national database of their locations.


As part of a grant through the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sea Tow Foundation operates more than 650 life jacket loaner stations nationwide. An online map at was developed and maintained by the Foundation of their loaner stations as part of this grant as well. Unfortunately, there is not a national registry or map for all of the life jacket loaner stations operated by state agencies and other non-profit groups around the country, so the Sea Tow Foundation included the development of a national-level database into this year’s grant and hopes to register thousands more loaner stations throughout the U.S. over the coming months. 


Individuals and organizations that want to have their life jacket loaner stations included in the database can submit their information via the following link: The deadline for submissions is September 30, 2020.


“Preventing drowning is one of the main goals of the Sea Tow Foundation and it is the reason why we started the Life Jacket Loaner Program in 2008,” said Gail R. Kulp, executive director for the Sea Tow Foundation. “The purpose of the Life Jacket Loaner Station Database is to allow any boater within the U.S. to find a place where life jackets can be borrowed and returned, free of charge, so that everyone can have a safe and fun time on the water.”


The Life Jacket Loaner Station Database will offer an interactive map for boaters to find the nearest Life Jacket Loaner Station to their location. Different colored markers on a map will provide the exact address, the host organization for the station, and the name of the marina, park, boat ramp, etc. where it can be found. Life Jacket Loaner Stations are typically placed in locations where boaters will have easy access to life jackets, but they may also be available at local fire departments, community centers, and through the local marine law enforcement officers.

Tags:  2019-20  boating safety  Grant  Life Jacket  life jacket database  Life Jacket Loaner Program  life jacket map  US Coast Guard 

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July 4th Safety Tips for Boaters Watching Fireworks Displays

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, June 30, 2020

July 4th Safety Tips for Boaters Watching Fireworks Displays

Over the long July 4th weekend, countless coastal and lakeside towns across the country mount fireworks displays, many of which will launch from the water. These exciting events draw hundreds of people, however with social distancing in effect right now, the best option to see these shows is to be on your boat for a “ring-side seat” for the show. Boating at night and in the smoke caused by the fireworks can prove challenging, so the Sea Tow Foundation has put together 7 safety tips for boaters watching a July 4th fireworks display from the water:

1.    Wear your life jacket! Make sure everyone onboard the boat is wearing either a traditional life jacket that fits properly, or an inflatable PFD. Navigating at night in smoky conditions can be just as dangerous as boating in stormy weather or in fog.


2.    Designate a Sober Skipper to stay at the helm all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the fireworks display is over.


3.    Watch your weight. Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats available on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or by the helm, or look up the passenger capacity in the boat’s manual.


4.    Things look different at night. Remember that in the dark, visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may be invisible. Chart your route to your fireworks-viewing spot in advance and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it, if necessary.


5.    Listen Up! Follow the directions issued to boaters by U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary officials as to where you may safely anchor to view the fireworks away from sparks and ash.


6.    Relax and enjoy the show. Don’t be in a rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the fireworks display is over.

7.    Lights on. Don’t forget to check that your navigation lights are working and carry a couple of extra flashlights and batteries just in case. You don’t want to operate your boat in the dark.


Do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments.


Tags:  2019-20  boating safety  fireworks  holiday  july 4th  Life Jacket  night boating  Sober Skipper 

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Beware of hidden boating and swimming danger: Electric Shock Drowning

Posted By Gail Kulp, Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2020
GUEST BLOG: The Sea Tow Foundation has partnered with Safe Electricity to bring you this important information.
Beware of Hidden Boating and Swimming Danger: Electric Shock Drowning

by Erin Hollinshead, Executive Director, Safe Electricity

Safe Electricity and the Sea Tow Foundation have overarching missions: to save lives and reduce accidents.

Much like Sea Tow  Foundation’s job is to increase awareness about safe boating practices, our job at Safe Electricity is to educate about dangers associated with electricity, including electrical sources near water.

Most electrical dangers cannot be seen or heard, and Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) is no exception.  ESD happens when electrical current leaks into water from a nearby electrical source, such as a yacht, boat or marina dock.

Just as you wouldn't use a blow dryer with one hand submerged in a sink full of water, you would not knowingly jump into a body of water that has electricity running through it. Once someone jumps into the tainted water, an unsuspecting person can become paralyzed and drown due to the electrical current invading his or her body.

Boating enthusiasts and marina employees can play a huge part in preventing ESD, since outdated wiring and a lack of proper safety equipment on boats and docks can cause electricity to leak or spread into the water.

Safe Electricity offers these ESD safety tips:

While Swimming or Boating

·         Do not swim within 100 yards of any freshwater marina or boatyard or around private or public docks with electrical service.

·         If you are swimming and feel tingling or shock, swim away from the dock or any other electrical source. “If you feel a shock, swim away from the dock”  is a good way to remember this. Yell to someone on shore to cut the power source.

·         If you think you are swimming in water that could be electrified, try to stay upright, tuck your legs up so that you are more compact, and swim away from anything you think could be energizing the water.

·         Do not jump in to help if you suspect someone is in electrified water; instead, cut the power, throw a float, and call 9-1-1.

·         Never dive into water or work on underwater components when your boat is plugged into shore power.

Prevention and Maintenance

·         Make sure your boat’s electrical system is always in good working order and have it inspected annually by a qualified electrician who is trained to American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) specifications. Consider purchasing your own clamp meter to test for stray electricity.

·         Have your qualified electrician install an ELCI (equipment leakage circuit interrupter) on your boat or use a power cord that has an ELCI.

·         Do not use a common household extension cord to provide shore power to your boat. Use, and encourage others, to use shore power cords that meet UL standards.

·         Talk to marina owners and operators about the dangers of ESD.

·         All docks should have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) on the circuits that feed electricity to the docks. GFCIs should be checked often to make sure they are in working order.

 For more information about safety around electricity, visit

Safe Electricity is the award-winning, public awareness program of the Energy Education Council, a 501(c) 3 (not-for-profit organization) established in 1952 on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With offices located in Springfield, Ill., Safe Electricity operates under the University of Illinois Extension and is led by the EEC Board of Directors. Since the Safe Electricity program was created in 2001, it has provided thousands safety-minded resources to its more than 500 utility members from across the country to help save lives and reduce injuries.

Tags:  2019-20  boating safety  Electric Shock Drowning  Guest Blog  Safe Electricity 

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Boating in Flooded Waters – Don’t Do It

Posted By Gail Kulp, Monday, June 15, 2020
Updated: Monday, June 8, 2020

Boating in Flooded Waters – Don’t Do It


The sun is out and the weather is getting warmer making for a fantastic boating season.  However, the arrival of warmer weather also means that the chance of spring and summer storms increases which can lead to flooding. Although it may be tempting to take your boat out on your home rivers or lakes while the water is high or even go boating in an area that used to be a field or park but is now covered in water, it is imperative to stay away for your safety and the safety of others.


Some of the dangers that can arise when your local waterways are flooded include:

·         Submerged hazards and debris such as entire trees, fence posts, parts of buildings and other structures can be hidden beneath the water’s surface.

·         Strong currents can knock power poles and their lines and electrical equipment into the water. This can create energized areas of water where electric shock is a possibility. 

·         Faster currents make it much more challenging to operate your boat when the current is strong and rapid.

·         Markers such as buoys and beacons might be moved or damaged when an area is flooded and cannot be relied upon for safe navigation.

·         Water is still very cold this time of year even if the air temperature has started to warm up. Cold water significantly increases the risk of hypothermia and can lead to cold shock.


If you absolutely must go out on your boat when your local waterways are flooded, practice the following safety protocols:

·         Do not boat alone. Have an extra set of eyes and hands to look for submerged objects.

·         ALWAYS wear a good fitting life jacket. If you don’t have a life jacket, you can find a Life Jacket Loaner station near you at

·         Carry a device that can be used to contact emergency personnel – such as a VHF radio, satellite phone, or personal locator beacon.

·         Bring along a lot of rope and practice your knots before heading out in case you need to use the rope to tie up your boat or to throw to someone who has fallen into the swift water. Do not enter the water to rescue anyone or anything during flooding.


It is important to remember that there are so many ways to have a wonderful boating experience. Going out in flood waters is incredibly risky and can cause serious harm. But remember, the best way to avoid the hazards of flood water is to stay away them.


Stay safe and keep boating!

Tags:  2019-20  boating in flood  boating safety  Education  flooding  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Life Jackets  Weather 

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Summer of Boating Safely Contest

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Updated: Monday, June 1, 2020


Sea Tow Foundation’s Summer of Boating Safely Contest

 The Sea Tow Foundation – a national nonprofit dedicated to the education and awareness of safe boating practices – is announcing their “Summer of Boating Safely,” a new contest designed to further its mission.


The Sea Tow Foundation’s mission is to promote safe boating practices that directly reduce accidents, deaths, and property damage related to recreational boating. The Summer of Boating Safely contest will encourage boaters to raise awareness of their safe boating habits and share their selfie video entries via social media. The contest provides a unique opportunity to win prizes by letting boaters show off their own boating safety habits. Some of the prizes include: inflatable life jackets from Onyx outdoor, a Cobra floating VHF radio, a WASP Action Sports Camera and more!


“We know that boating can be a wonderful way to relax and take advantage of the beautiful weather around you, but we want everyone to experience it safely,” said Gail Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “This contest was put in place to educate boaters everywhere. The best part is that everyone can help us in our mission with just a simple post on their social media account and they may even win a prize.”


Participants can enter by taking a selfie video answering the question of the month and posting it to Facebook or Instagram with a tag to @SeaTowFoundation and the hashtag #summerofboatingsafely. And because this summer is different from all previous summers, entries can be recorded on a boat or in a backyard. On the 15th of each month, one random winner will be chosen from the entries received during the previous month. For a full list of rules, click here.


·         Memorial Day: Contest runs from May 25-June 30, winner chosen on July 15

o   Question to answer: What is something you do to boat safely that you wish everyone would do on the water?

·         Independence Day: Contest runs from July 1-31, winner chosen on August 15

o   Question to answer: What do you tell guests on your boat so that everyone on board is boating safely?

·         Labor Day: Contest runs from August 1-September 7, winner chosen on September 15

o   Question to answer: What three items are on your checklist for boating safely?


Now that boating season is officially here, take a moment to showcase your own boating safely skills to the world and try to win some cool prizes at the same time!



Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety  Contest  Prizes  Summer of Boating Safely 

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Sea Tow Foundation Appoints Seven New Members to North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council

Posted By Gail Kulp, Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Press Release

Sea Tow Foundation Appoints Seven New Members to North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council   

The Sea Tow Foundation has appointed seven new marine industry stakeholders to serve on its North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council which was established in 2019. This new slate joins a dozen inaugural council members and will collaborate on a variety of strategies and tactics to promote greater awareness and adoption of boating safety initiatives and messages both within the recreational marine industry and the boating consumer space.


“We couldn’t be more pleased about the overall composition and the depth of experience in our newly appointed council members,” said Sea Tow Foundation Executive Director Gail R. Kulp  “We were very impressed by the quality of the nominations and the resulting expanded representation that embraces new segments of the marine industry including insurance, podcasting, personal watercraft and sailing.”


New inductees were voted in by the North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council and will serve a two-year term beginning June 1, 2020. Appointees are listed below in alphabetical order:


·         Adam Fortier-Brown, Government Relations Manager, MRAA

·         TK Krumenacker, CEO, Admirals Insurance Corp

·         Tyler Mehrl, Category Manager/Steering and Controls, Mercury Marine

·         Mark Pillsbury, Editor, Cruising World Magazine 

·         Angie Scott, Podcast Host, The Woman Angler & Adventurer

·         Eric Shepard, Retired (30 years in the marine and aviation safety industries)

·         Leslie Zlotnick, Advertising Manager, Yamaha Watercraft Group


About the Sea Tow Foundation North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council

Launched in 2019, the North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council now includes 19 members representing multiple sectors of the recreational boating industry along with an executive task force. In its first year, the council organized and debuted its first National Boating Industry Safety Awards to recognize the outstanding work of recreational boating organizations in promoting boating safety. The council is actively engaged in supporting a variety of safe boating initiatives including the Sober Skipper Program which encourages boaters to be or to designate a Sober Skipper before leaving the dock. The ultimate goal of the Sober Skipper Program is to eliminate the number of boating accidents and deaths related to Boating Under the Influence on North American waterways.


For more information about the North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council, please visit:


To learn more about the Sea Tow Foundation’s Sober Skipper Program, please visit

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety  Boating Under the Influence  NASSAC  North American Sober Skipper Advisory Council  Sober Skipper 

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Get a Sea Tow Membership

Posted By Gail Kulp, Friday, May 22, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 9, 2020

May 22- Get a Sea Tow Membership

Thank you for staying safe and following along during all of National Safe Boating Week. Did you guess our secret phrase?

The secret phrase was SEA TOW.

That’s right! We want to encourage everyone to renew or secure a Sea Tow membership before the start of the summer boating season.  Sea Tow Captains are standing by 24/7/365 to answer your call and provide peace of mind to boaters.

As the non-profit side of the Sea Tow family, the Sea Tow Foundation focuses on safe boating practices that result in fun on the water in the hopes of preventing recreational boating accidents and fatalities. We hope you learned some new boating safety tips this week

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety  National Safe Boating Week  Sea Tow Services International  Towing a Boat 

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Wearing Life Jackets is Important

Posted By Gail Kulp, Thursday, May 21, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 9, 2020

May 21 - Wearing Life Jackets is Important

Life jackets save lives, but only if they are worn. The U.S. Coast Guard requires children under age 13 to wear them, but anyone older is just required to carry life jackets on board, although a few activities like water skiing require that they be worn. It is best to always wear a life jacket, regardless of this requirement, because you never know when you’ll need one and finding one and putting it on takes too long in an emergency.

It’s also just as important that your life jacket fits properly. Having the wrong size life jacket can prove fatal if you needed it because the life jackets are sized for a certain amount of foam to float a person based on their weight. And, the life jacket fits based on the chest size measurement of the person as well. Click here to learn more about how to properly fit a life jacket on yourself and your children.

If you don’t have enough life jackets for everyone on board or they aren’t the correct sizes for everyone on board, you can stop by a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station and borrow one for free! Our life jacket loaner stations are stocked with Onyx brand life jackets in sizes to fit every member of your family from babies to adults. Simply return the borrowed life jacket at the end of your boating trip so that the next person can use it.

The letter for today is W.

Tags:  2019-20  Boating Safety  Life Jacket Loaner Program  Life Jacket Program  Life Jackets  National Safe Boating Week 

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