30 Seaworthy Years

In the spring of 1983, BoatUS launched Seaworthy
to "foster safe boating practices."

Published: April 2013

Like so many things at BoatUS, Seaworthy grew out of a need to serve our members better. In April of 1966, BoatUS began writing boat insurance as a national broker. By 1980, the Association had more than 75,000 members and nearly a quarter of those had purchased policies. BoatUS's CEO, Bill Oakerson, was managing the insurance division at that time. He began to see patterns in the claims. If members could see what he was seeing, he realized, BoatUS would reduce its insurance losses and people and boats would be safer.

In March of 1980, BoatUS created its Damage Avoidance Program to share those lessons learned with policyholders. BoatUS expanded the program by launching a quarterly newsletter, Seaworthy, to "foster safe boating practices" in the spring of 1983.

For the first two years, claims adjusters wrote the Seaworthy articles. But they were way too busy with their real jobs to deliver material to deadlines. In July of 1985, BoatUS Marine Insurance created the Office of Technical Services "to facilitate the flow of loss prevention information to members." Ernie Braatz, former claims manager, moved into an office in the far corner of the building and was given the title of Director of BoatUS Technical Services. Not too long afterward, Bob Adriance came on board. He brought to Seaworthy a passion for boats and for the people who love them, a dry wit and folksy writing style, and an intuitive ability to connect the dots from claims to preventative actions. By the time he retired in December of 2012, Seaworthy had become a respected and authoritative voice not just within the BoatUS membership but across the boating industry.End of story marker

As Seaworthy turns 30, we pause to take a look back
First issue of Seaworthy

Spring 1983
First issue of Seaworthy written by BoatUS claims adjusters comes out

Spring 1984
"A disaster team from the BOAT/U.S. Insurance Department flew into the [Galveston] area as soon as basic services were stabilized [after Hurricane Alicia last summer]." — Article describing the first Catastrophe Team deployment

Spring 1985
"The most commonly talked about [forms of alcohol] for use as fuel additives are ethanol (wood alcohol) which costs about $1.50 per gallon and for that reason has seen little use, and methanol, which costs about $0.50 per gallon."

Fall 1985
Ernie Braatz becomes editor of Seaworthy

Photo of Bob Adriance

Spring 1986
Bob Adriance joins Seaworthy as technical editor

Summer 1986
"Imagine for a moment a hurricane is coming ... . You're in your car headed for your boat. Now quickly — what's your plan of action?"

Fall 1986
Mailboat makes its first appearance and reader participation quickly becomes a Seaworthy hallmark

Fall 1987
"Using the winterizing checklist below may jog your memory and keep your boat healthy over the coming months."

January 1988
Seaworthy goes from biannual to quarterly

January 1989
Alert makes its first appearance as a regular column

April 1989
"While estimates vary, studies have shown that alcohol [consumption] may have been a factor in about 50 percent of adult-drowning deaths."

July 1990 issue of Seaworthy

July 1990
Small Stuff makes its first appearance

October 1990
"[An EPIRB] can save your life or be a nuisance."

July 1992
"Screw anchors can be screwed down into the [bottom] to provide tremendous holding power ... . [They] have been used successfully to moor boats in the Virgin Islands."

January 1994
"Almost half — 48 percent — of all sinking claims involved leaks at underwater fittings."

July 1994
"Only a few milliamps of electricity in the water may cause a swimmer's muscles to seize... ."

October 1996 issue of Seaworthy

October 1996
Bob Adriance promoted to editor of Seaworthy and Director of Technical Services

July 1999
"The single most critical reason boats are flooded on open water has to do with transom height."

January 2002
"Has anyone else been bothered by birds and ducks on spreaders, docks, decks, dodgers, or swim platforms?" Most popular reader participation topic — ever!

April 2002
"The repairs may not have been pretty, but in every case, the duct tape held."

May 2002
Charles Fort joins as Associate Editor

July 2003
"If you've noticed a lot of wiring and electrical articles in Seaworthy over the years, now you know why: The number one cause of fire on boats are DC wiring faults."

October 2004
"On Golden Pond" taps into the wisdom of senior boaters

July 2005
"Nylon line starts to deteriorate at 300 degrees F, and at 350 degrees F it will have lost half its strength."

October 2005
"MTBE is out, ethanol is in — uh-oh!"

October 2008
Seaworthy's most popular article ever: "A Strange Case of Justice" about a boating accident involving a deputy sherriff of Lake County, California

October 2009
Kevin Ritz writes a moving piece about the death of his son, Lucas, by Electric Shock Drowning in "A Preventable Dockside Tragedy"

January 2012 issue of Seaworthy

January 2012
"[Tom Weaver, owner of Eastport Yachts,] is one of the few boatbuilders/designers around with extensive [Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery] experience. And in his opinion, even today, Li-ions are still too dangerous for recreational boating use."

October 2012
Bob Adriance says goodbye after 26 years with Seaworthy. His number one safety tip? "When in doubt, slow down."

January 2013
Beth Leonard takes over as editor in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

To comment on this article, please contact Seaworthy@BoatUS.com