Sailing News

Congress Restores 35-Year Exemption For Recreational Boats From Proposed EPA Permitting Requirements No New Permits For Boats Required

In a remarkable display of bipartisan support for recreational boating, both the House and Senate today passed S. 2766, "The Clean Boating Act of 2008" which will permanently restore a long-standing exemption for recreational boats from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act. The legislation now goes to the White House for the President's signature.

Bill HooperCongressional action was spawned by a U.S. District Court decision in September 2006 under which an estimated 17 million recreational boats would have fallen under Clean Water Act permit requirements effective September 30, 2008. The permit would have dictated maintenance and operation procedures and potentially subjected boaters to citizen lawsuits as well as a penalty system designed for industrial polluters.
"This is a fabulous victory for common sense and it just goes to show what can be done when the boating public, the marine industry, and its representatives in Congress row together in a bipartisan way," said BoatU.S. President Nancy Michelman.

BoatU.S. Government Affairs Director Margaret Podlich was quick to shower praise on a boatload of legislators who did much of the heavy lifting including Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Steve LaTourette (R-OH), Candice Miller (R-MI) and Gene Taylor (D-MS). A complete listing of all legislators involved will be available at soon.

BoatU.S. has worked for more than a year with the National Marine Manufacturers Association and a broad coalition of stakeholders to resolve the problem before the permitting deadline.

"One of the real keys to success here was our collective ability to activate the grassroots," said Podlich, noting that tens of thousands of letters and e-mails were generated by boaters and anglers over the course of the past 12 months.

BoatU.S. is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boat owners with over 650,000 members.

Lakeland Boatworks, Inc. to Open Showroom/Retail Store in Syracuse, NY

Lakeland Boatworks, Inc., a marine manufacturer of wood/composite recreational watercraft of their own design, has negotiated a lease for 499 S. Warren St. in Syracuse, NY. The site will be developed by Lakeland to be their first showroom/retail store outside of Michigan. Consisting of approximately 5,000 square feet, Lakeland's new showroom will serve as the anchor tenant for the nine story commercial building across the street from the Syracuse Hotel and Towers development, the Galleria Complex and is a short walk from the popular shops at Amory Square. In addition to displaying the company designed recreational watercraft, Lakeland will be offering marine accessories and gifts, fowl weather gear, marine engines from their three OEM partners, Nissan Marine, Volvo Penta and Yanmar, and marine electronics. Restoration and repair services through Lakeland's manufacturing facility in Middleville can be marketed through the company showroom as well.

"We chose Syracuse as the site for our flagship store, due to it's proximity to the Finger Lakes regions of New York, the boating culture that exists there and the huge investment in re-development in their downtown Dave Shoresbusiness district," said Joe Rahn, Lakelands' president. "In this age of relationship marketing, the Lakeland Syracuse showroom and retail store allows us to know all of our customers by name. By having direct oversight of the manufacturing, distribution and sales functions of our business, we can assure that the customer has direct access to knowledgeable staff and that they are getting the best service and value possible."

BOATU.S. Reaches Milestone 50,000 Radio Registrations
One-button Mayday Feature Improves Marine Safety

Boat Owners Association of the United States (BoatU.S.) has registered its 50,000th boat owner with an enhanced VHF radio that will greatly improve their safety on the water. The registrations are part of a free service the Association launched in 2000 to enable boaters to take advantage of the U.S. Coast Guard's new Rescue 21 coastal radio system. Rescue 21 enhances distress communications, speeds up search and rescue response time, provides more accurate direction-finding, and eliminates VHF radio coverage gaps.

BoatU.S. was the first non-government entity to offer registration of VHF radios with the Digital Selective Calling (DSC) feature under an agreement with the Coast Guard and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Registration is necessary to obtain a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, which is then programmed into the radio by the boater. In an emergency, the MMSI is encoded in the SOS transmission, which will also help reduce hoax distress calls.

By registering a DSC VHF radio with BoatU.S., key information such as a boat description and owner contact phone numbers, is logged into the Coast Guard's national MMSI database used by search and rescue personnel. The greatest benefit of a DSC radio is its ability to connect to a GPS or Loran receiver and automatically transmit the position of the vessel in distress, along with the MMSI number, all with the push of one "mayday" button.

"Now that Rescue 21 covers over 15,000 miles of coastline, we know that the use of this technology is taking the 'search' out of search and rescue and already saving lives," said Nancy Michelman, president of BoatU.S. "This 50,000 registration milestone also demonstrates what can be done when we partner with the federal government to create programs that benefit the entire boating community."

While Rescue 21 is not yet operational in all regions, commercial ships are required to monitor Ch. 70. To register your DSC VHF radio and get your MMSI number or to see a schedule of Rescue 21 installations, go to Also at this site is a free BoatU.S. DSC VHF radio tutorial, "Can You Hear Me?".

Boaters Need To Check Their Marina Slip Contract Against Their Boat’s Insurance Policy
Do You Have the Coverage You Need?

Before you sign your annual slip contract with your marina this year, be sure to read it carefully - it may obligate you to pay more than just the slip fee as marinas are inserting language in their slip contracts that shift the marina’s legal liability to the slip holder in an effort control increasing marina insurance costs.

“What this means in real terms, for example, is if a boater’s guest is injured due to the marina’s negligence and sues the marina, or a boat is damaged by the marina and it declines to pay for repairs, the boat owner could be responsible for defending the marina and paying any amounts that the marina is responsible for,” said BoatU.S. Vice President of Underwriting, Jim Nolan.

Don Maxwell“In the insurance industry it’s called contractual liability,” said Nolan, noting that such slip contract language includes terms like “hold harmless and indemnify” and “defend and indemnify”. “If they see this language, boaters should check to make sure that their boat’s insurance policy provides them with coverage for these types of contractual liabilities before they sign their slip or storage contract,” he added.

If the boat insurance policy does not include contractual liability coverage, boaters could find themselves paying big money out of pocket for injuries, defense lawyers and possibly property damage to their own boat because the “hold harmless” provision may insulate the marina from paying for damages it may have caused.

“Many boat insurance policies exclude contractual liabilities and do not allow a boater to simply sign away their insurer’s right to be reimbursed for boat damage caused by the marina,” added Nolan.

BoatU.S. marine insurance policies provide contractual liability coverage assumed under a boat storage or slip rental contract. For more information or an online quote, visit or call 800-283-2883.

New Rescue Boat Hits The Water on White Bear Lake
White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi Will Share  The Used Federal Vessel

Water rescues, diving operations ,and boat fire hose-downs will be performed aboard a new vessel on White Bear Lake this year.

The White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi fire departments recently purchased a 22-foot water rescue boat through a federal grant program that netted the city the boat at a greatly reduced cost.

The boat will be shared by the departments and is currently being outfitted with twin 100 horsepower engines and a water pump.

Fire fighters have been clamoring for such a vehicle for years, said Tim Vadnais, White Bear Lake's fire chief. But without the grant program, which is designed to redistribute surplus military and other equipment from federal agencies to fire departments, the boat would have cost the city over $100,000.

"I could never find room in the budget," Vadnais said.

But when the opportunity to snatch the 22-footer for $3,000 came up, the department was excited. The boat allows the White Bear Lake and Mahtomedi fire departments to retire the smaller boats that their water divisions have outgrown.

"Our dive and rescue program has greatly expanded in recent years," Vadnais said.

The departments have personnel trained for dive operations, whereas in the past such work was done by larger agencies. In addition to dive operations, the boat will have hoses that will allow fire fighters to pump lake water onto lakeside fires.

The new boat was previously used in Coast Guard or Naval operations off the east coast, Vadnais said.