BoatUS Reports

News From The World Of Boating

Red Snapper Drama Endures

Overruling public opinion and a recommendation against it from the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, the Gulf Of Mexico Fisheries Council passed Amendment 40, a controversial scheme to split up the recreational share of red snapper quota in federal waters in the Gulf. The new plan will divide the catch share set aside for recreational anglers, currently 49 percent of the total catch, into two parts: recreational and charterboats/for hire captains. The commercial fishing segment's share, 51 percent of the total, remains untouched.

"It is extremely disappointing that such a flawed management proposal was approved in the face of so much opposition," said Bill Bird, chairman of Coastal Conservation Association's National Government Relations Committee. "It's infuriating that the Gulf Council continues its giveaway of a public resource when the public has neither a reasonable season nor reasonable size and bag limits for that same resource."

The practical effects of the amendment are likely to be an even shorter recreational season in federal waters, some predict as little as one day, for boat-owning anglers, while charterboats and guides will have a more predictable season once a catch-reporting system is fully implemented. Now, approximately 70 percent of the total catch of red snapper will be allocated to private businesses.

"While we fully support a better management approach to alleviate the hardships of an extremely short recreational season on the charter/for-hire fishery, providing more days of fishing for a select few while completely ignoring the impacts to the majority of participants is irresponsible," said Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS). "Other options that address the needs of the recreational fishery as a whole should be on the table."

Life Jackets Getting A Makeover?

In a move expected to benefit recreational boaters, the U.S. Coast Guard has dropped the life jacket codes — Type I, II, III, IV, and V. The now outmoded coding was unique to the U.S., and had been used for years to differentiate life jackets and their specific use. But the coding tended to limit choice and increase the cost of life jackets, not to mention confuse boaters, according to Chris Edmonston, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety president and chairman of the National Safe Boating Council.

Edmonston says removing the type coding is a first step toward adopting new standards that will eventually simplify life jacket requirements for recreational boaters. "Aligning our standards with our neighbors to the north and across the Atlantic will help reduce prices and allow for a wider variety, as manufacturers won't have to make products unique to the U.S. market," he says.

Edmonston cautions boaters to continue to abide by the Type I-V labeling when using older life jackets, as they will remain legal for use. To change the public mindset of what a life jacket should look like, the BoatUS Foundation, the Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA), and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) are running an "Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition" through April 15. For more, go to

Built For Speed

Looking for something speedy that doesn't take a lot of gas? The Leviathan project probably won't be available at your local boat dealer any time soon, but a group of Canadian students are hoping this human-powered boat will set world speed records this year. Mechanical engineering students at Quebec's Université de Sherbrooke are hoping to take the trophy away from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology students who propelled a boat to 21 miles per hour in 1991, according to the World Human Powered Vehicle Association, which tracks those records.

Powering the boat by a single bicyclist driving a propeller, the group plans to generate enough thrust to get the twin catamaran-style hulls out of the water, lifting the boat on submerged hydrofoils to reach 23 miles per hour. The Sherbrooke team is in the building stage of the project, hoping to test their boat over the winter, in preparation for a trial in June. They've been raising money with the crowd-funding website Kickstarter. In October they blew past their $2,000 (Canadian dollars) goal to raise more than $8,000 for the project.

Making Dredging Dollars Work

Last November, Georgetown, South Carolina, a popular spot on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), voted to pass a small tax increase to raise $28 million on their own to better leverage federal dredging dollars, and for other transportation projects.

To return their Port of Georgetown to a 27-foot depth, 60 percent of the voters elected to pass a penny sales tax on the town for a period of four years.

With many areas of the ICW in desperate need of dredging funds, localities and states are starting to get creative with their tactics. In 2012, North Carolina raised boater registration fees to establish their "match money" for the maintenance of shallow draft inlets.

BoatUS Government Affairs senior coordinator and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Association board member David Kennedy said, "It's great to see localities coming to the table with funding and recognizing the impact these small ports and harbors have on their local economies."

Double Winners For Fishing Trip Contest

When Jacob N. Hopkins and Samuel Martin set out to write their winning essays in the "Zona's Awesome Fishing Trip" contest, they thought they were angling for only one top prize. However, after judges reviewed both entries, they decided to change the rules and award each young man a grand prize trip. Hopkins and Martin will now both get their own "Awesome Fishing Trip" with ESPN Bassmaster and Greatest Fishing Show host Mark Zona, and both will get a $1,000 gift card for airfare, lodging, and meal expenses. "BoatUS has doubled down on these two guys and now I will show them some of the best bass fishing my home state of Michigan has to offer," said Zona. "They won't be able to go home without saying they had the most awesome fishing trip of their lives."

Boaters, Watch This Space

In December, a rogue boat found its way into the waters around the launch area of Cape Canaveral, Florida, delaying the launch for the test flight of the Orion mission that could one day take humans to Mars. Last October, a wayward sailboat forced the scrubbing of an Antares rocket launch from a NASA facility in coastal Virginia. The rocket subsequently exploded on launch the next day. With the majority of rocket-launch sites located on coasts, there are serious boating restrictions in place in the shadow of the launch trajectory (the Virginia launch closed off 1,400 square miles of ocean), but there are also plenty of waters for boaters to anchor and enjoy the spectacle without interfering in these launches. To the north and south of the Wallops Island facility in Virginia are multiple boat ramps and anchorages as well as waterfront-dining options. The same is true at the Cape Canaveral facility on the east coast of Florida.

In Texas, billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX Corporation is constructing a new launch facility immediately south of Padre Island and Port Isabel, expected to become operational in 2016. Local government officials are already planning to upgrade coastal parks and other viewing areas, but several boat ramps, marinas, and anchorages abound on Laguna Madre, already home to a strong cruising contingent.

The awe and anticipation of watching (and feeling) heavy rocket-launch satellites, or resupply missions to the International Space Station, bring another excuse to get out on the water. However, be aware of the areas under restriction for boaters, which can be found on the launch facilities' and the Coast Guard's "Notice To Mariners" websites when planning a trip nearby.

Every Vote Counts!

Public voting for who you think should receive this years BoatUS Foundation grants begins soon. Over the past 25 years the BoatUS Foundation has awarded over a million dollars to local community organizations, yacht clubs, flotillas, and squadrons, for creative and innovative projects that promote safe and clean boating on your local waterway. Past topics have ranged from public-service announcements on the effects of boating under the influence, to hands-on education about the effects of marine debris. Don't forget, every vote counts, so add yours to the mix at

New York Harbor, One Oyster At A Time

New York City has long been the place to go to live your dream, and conservationists behind the Billion Oyster Project are taking that to heart. The 20-year goal to restore New York Harbor by raising 1 billion Crassostrea virginica, the eastern oyster, is also a clever approach. Oysters, which feed by filtering algae and other microorganisms out of the water, also remove inorganic matter such as silt and sediment from the water column. Given that a mature oyster filters one to two gallons of water per hour, a billion hungry oysters could effectively filter 50 billion gallons each day.

But oysters aren't just beneficial for their filtering prowess. The reefs they build (oysters grow best on other oysters, so they tend to climb over generations) provide shelter and food for dozens of species and can be some of the most productive habitats outside of coral reefs. Perhaps even more critical, oyster reefs calm wave action, which can reduce the impact of storm surge. With the city considering spending billions on new seawalls after the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, oyster reefs could provide a natural storm barrier that would require little maintenance once established.

The project is based at the Harbor School, where students and volunteers already raise 10 million oysters a year. Their efforts to ramp up production, as well as volunteer opportunities and donation information, can be found at

Texas Battles Invasive Species

Texas boaters join the ranks of many, with new invasive species rules to consider when moving boats. As of July last year the Texas Parks and Wildlife department is enforcing new rules to combat the spread of zebra mussels. Ideally suited to freshwater lakes with little or no current, these invaders build colonies and can attach themselves to virtually any solid object, including boat hulls.

The new rules generally follow the national guidelines to Clean, Drain and Dry all boats and equipment when moving between waterways, and it requires that all boats operating on public fresh water anywhere in Texas be drained before and after use. This includes draining livewells, bilges, motors and other water-intake systems. The rule applies to all launches and all types of boats.

Adult mussels, very difficult to remove from even the hull of a boat, can damage or block any water system on a vessel, including heads, air conditioners, and engine-cooling systems. With their larvae capable of transiting in any standing water from one lake to another, they have already been discovered as far away as California and Utah.

For more information see Texas regulations on Possession and Transport of Exotic Aquatic Species and to learn more on how to prevent the spread of invasive species visit the Protect Your Waters and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers website.

BoatUS President Named Darlene Briggs Woman Of The Year

Our very own president, Margaret Podlich, was named the 2014 Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year on November 19, during the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo Awards in Orlando, Florida. The award is presented annually to an outstanding woman in the marine industry.

Photo of Margaret Podlich receiving the Darlene Briggs Woman Of The Year AwardPhoto: Marine Retailers Association of the Americas

For the past 20 years, Podlich has worked tirelessly in various capacities for BoatUS, before becoming president in 2011. She has also served with organizations such as the Recreational Boating Leadership Council, the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC), where she currently sits on the Board of Directors, and the U.S. Coast Guard's Boating Safety Advisory Council. A lifelong boater, Podlich was raised in a sailing family, and raced in college while attending Tulane University. She continues to compete in a wide range of national and international events and finished fourth in the 2011 Rolex Women's International Keelboat Regatta. In 2006 she was a member of the three-woman Yngling Team Cronin sailing crew that competed for a place on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games.

"To be in the select group of women who have received this award before me — folks like Volvo's Marcia Kull, Grady-White's Kris Carroll, and Regulator's Joan Maxwell — all of whom are ‘wonderwomen' — who build, sell, service, and provide 'homes' to the boats that are critical to our half-million members — is very humbling," says Podlich. "I am very thankful to be working in an industry where our business is making other people's fun." Podlich dedicated the award to her parents, Beth and John Bonds, who showed her and told her that anything is possible.

Last Chance To Solve A Maritime Mystery

Did you know that more than 30 percent of the art market is made up of fakes and forgeries? The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, is using that fact to encourage you to tap into your inner Sherlock Holmes in an exhibition of 36 paintings by 19th century maritime artist James Edward Buttersworth. The catch is that hidden among the paintings is one modern forgery. But don't worry, there are plenty of visual clues dotted throughout the exhibition, and visitors can vote on which piece they believe to be fake.

"This is a new way to get people to look carefully at the details in a work of art without having to have a Ph.D. in art history," said chief curator Lyles Forbes.

But hurry, you have a limited time to seek out the impostor. The exhibition runs until April 26.  


— Published: February/March 2015

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