Sailing News

Spending by Michigan Boaters Reaches $2.24 Billion

A study by the “Recreational Marine Research Center” at Michigan State University (MSU) substantiates that boating is a popular recreational activity and a major contributor to many communities throughout the state. The study confirms “Boating Means Business” in Michigan.

In 2002, approximately 1.1 million watercraft were registered in Michigan and 3+ million Michigan residents participated in recreational boating activities. It is estimated that registered boat owners logged more than 22 million boating days in 2002.

Spending by recreational boaters in 2002 is estimated to be $2.24 billion, including $880 million in boat sales, $502 million in annual craft spending, and $860 million on boating trips. This spending generated $636 million in income to business owners and employees and produced a total of 24,000 Michigan jobs. Spending by registered boaters provides significant revenues and income to thousands of boating, hospitality, and retail businesses throughout the state.

According to Dr. Edward Mahoney, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at MSU, who headed the research project, these estimates are conservative because it does not include spending by owners of an estimated 300,000 non-registered Michigan watercraft or spending associated with boats registered out-of-state and used in Michigan waters.

Coast Guard Medevacs Man from Sailboat

Coast Guard Station Harbor Beach and Coast Guard Air Station Detroit medevaced a 51-year-old man from a sailboat at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday July 19th.

The man was taking part in the Port Huron to Mackinac Island race when he began suffering from severe seizures. Air Station Detroit’s rescue helicopter hoisted the man from a sailboat and transported him to Port Huron Hospital.

He is reported to be in stable condition.

Local Ship Sails for New York/Boston for Homeland Security

The Cleveland based Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay sets sail Monday for the waters of Boston and New York Harbors.

During its three-month deployment, the crew of the Neah Bay will escort high interest vessels such as liquefied natural gas carriers and serve as harbor commander, controlling Coast Guard safety and security operations in New York and Boston.

Neah Bay is a 140-foot ice breaker. During the winter months, Neah Bay and its crew keep the Port of Cleveland open for commercial traffic, as well as ports around the Great Lakes.


Dawn Riley, the world champion sailor who has made great strides in developing sailing outreach programs for young people, was presented with the Leadership in Women's Sailing Award this weekend at the 2nd annual Women's Sailing Conference held at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA. Sponsored by the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) and the National Women's Sailing Association (NWSA), the award honors a male or female who has gone beyond competitive racing and leveraged their name, skills, or position in the sailing world to reach out and enrich other's lives through sailing.

"No one is more deserving of this honor than Dawn Riley," said Elaine Dickinson of BoatU.S., who presented the award along with NWSA President Diana Smith. "Her racing career has been extraordinary, breaking numerous barriers for women. But she's also gone beyond winning trophies to give something back to the sport and to society at large through her America True Foundation."

Riley founded and leads the America True Foundation, whose goal is to bring the joy of sailing to youth nationwide. Other accomplishments include being the first woman to head up an America's Cup Syndicate (2000) as well as captain the first all-women's America's Cup team, America3 (1995). She was the first female crew member on any America's Cup team (1992) and she lead the first all-women's entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race. Riley was the first two-time winner of the world-class BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup women's match race regatta; the first sailor to be named President of the Women's Sports Foundation; and also the 1999 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

At the Women's Sailing Conference over 110 women - from college students to grandmothers - learned new skills as well as brushed up on old ones and networked with other women sailors. The Conference is one of many events that BoatU.S. - with 540,000 members - sponsors that promotes boating opportunities for women. Others include the BoatU.S. Santa Maria Cup, the annual Women's Sailing Convention in Southern California, and "Ladies, Let's Go Fishing!" seminars. BoatU.S. also features a Women in Boating Web site at

Coast Guard Rescues Mother and Son from Island in Northern Michigan

The Coast Guard airlifted a mother and her son from Gull Island in northern Michigan July 16th after their 10-foot sailboat was overtaken by high winds nearly twelve hours earlier.

Coast Guard Station Traverse City received a call from the Leelanau County Sheriff shortly after midnight about an overdue boat, and launched an HH-65A helicopter. Approximately thirty minutes later, the helicopter crew spotted the small sail boat on the beach of Gull Island with the two individuals nearby. Gull Island is located east of Beaver Island on the northern part Lake Michigan.

Laura Witt, 52, and her 24 year old son, Daniel, left Northport, Mich. at about 1:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon when they encountered high winds and four to six foot seas.

Both individuals were recovered by a rescue swimmer and transported back to the air station where they were then transferred to local paramedics.
An HH-65 helicopter from Air Station Traverse City, and a 41-foot rescue boat from Station Charlevoix also assisted in the search.

Coast Guard Offers Reward for Hoax Caller

The Coast Guard Investigative Service is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the positive identification of a hoax caller.

The person or persons are wanted for making false "Mayday" calls and for bomb threats directed at Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, the Army Corps of Engineers O'Brien Lock & Dam and several commercial vessels on the Calumet River.

The transmissions were made from October 2002 and May 2003, usually occuring between 3 and 10 p.m.

Anyone who may have any information about these calls is asked to contact Special Agent Gerald Griner at 630-986-2160.

The Coast Guard has placed reward posters around the Calumet River and O'Brien Lock.


The BoatU.S. Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program is continuing to grow with the addition of 40 new sites to its nationwide program that provides a simple way for kids to borrow a right-sized life jacket at readily accessible launch ramps, marinas and waterfront businesses.

Since its inception six years ago, the program has saved the lives of three children. It is estimated that these life jackets have been loaned out more than 50,000 times. With over 300 sites across the country, the program is available to boaters in almost every region of the United States.

"Partnering with marinas allows us to reach out to boaters in their own element," said Chris Edmonston, Director of Boating Safety for the BoatU.S. Foundation. "We make it easy to keep kids safer while boating. If a boating family discovers they don't have enough properly-fitting children's life jackets on board, they can simply visit a loaner site and sign out - at no cost - an infant, child, or youth jacket. Once the family is done enjoying the water, they simply return the jacket."

The Foundation provides each new loaner site with a kit of 12 life jackets, protective storage bin, sign out sheets and program signage, allowing hundreds of children all summer long to safely enjoy an afternoon, day or weekend on a boat with their families and friends.

The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water is a non-profit affiliate of Boat Owners Association of The United States - the nation's largest recreational boating association with over 540,000 members. For more information on making a tax-deductible donation to help keep programs like these afloat, go to Businesses or organizations interested in participating can next apply to the program in November 2003.