Best Boating Photos Of 2017

By BoatUS Editors

Announcing the winners and finalists of our BoatUS Magazine photo contest.

We sent out the call last August, asking you to send us your best and brightest on-the-water boating photos, and we received hundreds of great entries. Thank you! Narrowing down the finalists and winners was a challenge. You can see the ones we chose below, and we'll feature others we loved throughout the magazine, and in upcoming issues. We'll also celebrate some of the other entries online at, with galleries on Facebook, and in our monthly eNewsletter.


Action Category Winner: Bury The Rail by Tami Rae Flatgard

Winner | Burying The Rail

Tami Rae Flatgard of Santa Monica, California, snapped this photo with a zoom lens at the annual Berger/Stein race series hosted by Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina Del Rey. "I wanted a more emotional shot to capture the grace and beauty of this wooden vessel as she moved through the waves," she says.

Action Category Finalist: Million-Dollar Smiles by Kieran Sullivan

Finalist | Million-Dollar Smiles

Kieran Sullivan of Stratham, New Hampshire, captured his daughter and her friend's moment of joy during a family day out in the Belgrade Lakes region of Maine. "Our two families were vacationing together on Long Pond," he says. "We spent HOURS every day towing the children behind a Glastron runabout. They never tired of it."

Action Category Finalist: Cutting Edge by Alan Lloyd

Finalist | Cutting Edge

Alan Lloyd of Medford, Ohio, shared this dramatic action shot he took at the 2008 Junior Waterski National Championships with his Canon DSLR camera. "The championships were held at a small park in Cincinnati, a good location because I could get close to the action," he says.


Lifestyles Category Winner: Clouds All Around by Sarah Lilja

Winner | Clouds All Around

Sarah Lilja of Maplewood, Minnesota, snapped this photo of her husband Dave in his kayak in a quiet backwater of Big Marine Lake. "I always take a camera, and when I turned to look at my husband, his boat appeared to be floating in the clouds."

Lifestyles Category Finalist: Rear View by John Adams

Finalist | Rear View

John Adams of Palmetto Bay, Florida, was relaxing in an inflatable dinghy in the Bahamas, around Elliott Key, when his dogs presented him with a photo op he couldn't resist. "Duke and Duchess are avid boaters," he says.

Lifestyles Category Finalist: Son Of A Son Of A Sailor by Beth Raucci

Finalist | Son Of A Son Of A Sailor

Beth Raucci of Haverhill, Massachusetts, captured this intriguing portrait of an old salt she met in Rockport. "I wanted to seek out the story behind every nook and cranny in his face," she says. "He had a great smile despite having only a few teeth left!"

Lifestyles Category Finalist: Sunrise Silhouette by Charles "Happy" Wathen

Finalist | Sunrise Silhouette

Charles "Happy" Wathen of Mechanicsville, Maryland, snapped this peaceful image of his two buddies fishing in the fog on the Potomac River. "After I moved my boat for another drive, the sun came up and was shining on them," he says.

Lifestyles Category Finalist: Lock Party by Alan Lloyd

Finalist | Lock Party

Alan Lloyd of Milford, Ohio, snapped this image of happy boaters waiting to lock through Narrows Lock on Canada's Rideau Canal. "There were many boaters hanging out having picnics," he explains.


Scenic Category Winner: Bound For Beauty by Bill Walker

Winner | Bound For Beauty

Bill Walker of Anchorage, Alaska, was enjoying time aboard the maiden voyage of BW, the 10th wooden boat he's built himself. Walker (not the state's governor, who has the same name) only had his Samsung S5 cellphone to snap this photo. "It was early summer on Kenai Lake, which has that mesmerizing turquoise­colored water. It's the most scenic time of the year," he says. "The foliage is green again, but the mountain snow hasn't yet melted."

Finalist | Paradise Found

Brian Wadsworth, a member from Oakbank, Manitoba, loves to solo sail in his home waters as well as in Florida and the Bahamas. "I did 7,000 miles of the Great Loop in a 26-foot Paceship sailboat. Among my photos is this one of a dinghy on a beach in Staniel Cay, Bahamas," he explains. "Looking at the clear water close to shore and the different blue colors farther out, I immediately knew I'd chosen the retired life I wanted."

Scenic Category Finalist: Shaw Island Raft-Up by James Unchurch

Finalist | Shaw Island Raft-Up

James Unchurch of Gig Harbor, Washington, was on a summer boat trip to the San Juan Islands with wife, Melanie, when he captured this view of a raft-up in Blind Bay on Shaw Island. "We anchored in the bay for a night, did some crabbing, and explored Blind Island," he says.

Scenic Category Finalist: Long Way Around by Sarah Lilja

Finalist | Long Way Around

Sarah Lilja of Maplewood, Minnesota, made good use of the five weeks she spent with family in Gothenburg, Sweden. "There's a gorgeous set of islands off the coast of Gothenburg called the Archipeliago," she says. "No cars are allowed, which keeps them pristine."

Scenic Category Finalist: Amber Waves by James Labar

Finalist | Amber Waves

James Labar of Hamburg, New Jersey, didn't worry about shifting the horizon to capture this dramatic image off Tices Shoal, Barnagat Bay. "The colors were amazing," he remembers. "I noticed that if I changed the angle a bit, the American flag was even more pronounced."

Scenic Category Finalist: Eye In The Sky by Justin Morlock

Finalist | Eye In The Sky

Justin Morlock of Lexington, South Carolina, sent us this sky-high image of the annual Drift Jam floating concert, held each June on Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre reservoir. "The concert is staged in a cove formed by the Jim Spence Islands, near the eastern end of the lake," he says. "The islands, and the concert, are only accessible by boat." That's red clay, not algae, along the shore. Justin used a DJI Zenmuse X3 camera aboard a remote-controlled drone.


Artistic Category Winner: Trio In Tune by Tami Rae Flatgard

Winner | Trio In Tune

Tami Rae Flatgard of Santa Monica, California, captured this dramatic moment from a Marina del Rey-to-Squirrel Bank race. "It was early January following a storm. When I saw this sunset collecting itself, I knew I wanted it as a backdrop for a shot," she explains. "Within minutes, three boats approached. I chased them until they were all aligned in the sunset."

Artistic Category Finalist: Photo Or Painting by Tony Chor

Finalist | Photo Or Painting?

Tony Chor of Bellevue, Washington, says this image actually found him and the trusty Canon Elan II film camera he carries. "We were waiting for a water taxi late in the afternoon. The light was great," he says. "The reflection of the buildings on the water looked like a watercolor painting."

Artistic Category Finalist: Sailboater's World by Lee Yeoman

Finalist | Sailboater's World

Lee Yeomans of Newbury, Massachusetts, was preparing to head out with her husband for some deep-sea fishing aboard their boat, Sydney Lee. "We're docked in Salisbury, at Bridge Marina, and were heading down the Merrimack River as the sun was rising over the sailboats moored on the Newburyport side of the river," she explains. "I never leave home without my Nikon D40X and used Photoshop to apply this spherical effect."

Artistic Category Finalist: Nature's Art by Ralf Burgert

Finalist | Nature's Art

Ralf Burgert of San Francisco captured this scene of nature's order aboard his Beneteau sloop during a relaxed summer raft-up with friends. "I noticed the damselfly on the mainsheet in the cockpit, then noticed its prey," he says.

Artistic Category Finalist: Balancing Act by Kieran Sullivan

Finalist | Balancing Act

Kieran Sullivan of Stratham, New Hampshire, captured the peace and beauty of a boat awaiting the region's dramatic 8-foot tide to come back in. When it does, it will be time to launch for another day of fun in Wellfleet Harbor, Massachusetts. 

— Published: February/March 2017

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