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Technology And Testing Mark 2010 Accomplishments

By Amanda Suttles

The BoatUS Foundation has a string of successes to show for their year of good work. Here are some highlights.

With the first 10 years of the 21st century already in the books, the BoatUS Foundation enters the new decade proving once again how far our members' donations can go in helping to save lives and keep our waterways clean. Thank you for your support. In 2011, the Foundation will increasingly use new technologies that weren't available even a few years ago to connect with boaters and educate them on how to be safer and better stewards of our marine resources.

New Online Learning Center

In 1997, the BoatUS Foundation offered its first, free web-based boating safety course. In 2010, it was time to bring our 14-year-old course up to date, and the Foundation launched the new Online Learning Center featuring a revised and updated Online Boating Safety Course. This course uses the latest in online education technology and integrates video and other interactive features to enhance the learning experience. The Foundation's online boating safety course is still free and now approved in more than 30 states to meet the mandatory education requirements for boaters. In those states where we're not yet approved, boaters can now access their state course as a refresher or prep work for another course. It's also a great way to save on your boat insurance even if you're not required to have a course in your state.

Foundation Findings #48: "We See the Light"
Nav lights testing compared old versus new equipment as well as LED versus incadescent

The Foundation first evaluated navigation lights in the 1990s. But today a whole new variety of navigation lights are on the market, namely Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights, so the Foundation reprised the original nav-light study this year to see how these new lights stack up. On a clear night, Foundation staff outfitted a test boat to compare traditional incandescent light fixtures with newer products available today that promised more light, greater efficiency, and less glare.

On top of those claims, LED lights also draw less electrical current and last longer — making them ideal for boating applications. Although their greater expense was a consideration, and the main reason why LEDs didn't receive a total endorsement, the LED fixtures were preferred by Foundation staff in all applications. For complete results, photos and product overview, visit: www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/Findings/48

Findings #49: "Weather To Go"

Getting weather on the go is now easier thanks to new technology such as smart phones, broadband wireless Internet, and onboard navigation devices with satellite options. Boaters can download apps or sign up for services that offer a variety of safety and weather information. Foundation staff identified a number of options that offer everything from simple text forecasts to others that provide real-time information in great detail. Some applications were easy and intuitive to use while others were much more complex. Boaters should contemplate what type of boating they plan on doing first. An inland boater might be looking for a simple weather and fishing forecast, while a coastal cruiser might make use of a service that provides more detail overlaid on their existing chart plotter.

Smartphones and other electronic devices are changing rapidly and getting better with each new release so the choices are growing every day. Some applications we tested have hefty annual fees, while others, such as NOAA's mobile.weather.gov site, offered great information at no charge. For the full report including a comparison chart and staff picks, visit: www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/Findings/49

GPIRB Activation Saves Three

"Kristy Lugert thanked her father profusely for having the foresight to rent an GPIRB from BoatUS which was instrumental in saving the three crew members' lives." - Latitude 38

In 2010, 368 EPIRBS and GPIRBS were rented from the BoatUS Foundation. Every renter returned to shore safely but one return was a little more eventful than usual. A sailboat delivery for Kristy Lugert and crew resulted in the activation of their rented GPRIB when wind gusts topped 50 mph with 15- to 20-foot seas eventually capsizing their 32-foot catamaran off the coast of California. Fortunately, Lugert's shore-bound father rented an GPIRB from the Foundation the day before her departure to ensure his daughter was safe. That decision saved the lives of all three aboard.

The last-minute rental and shipment, activation, dispatch, and communication with Coast Guard watch-standers was executed flawlessly by all involved including TowBoatUS 24-hour dispatch. A Coast Guard helicopter and rescue swimmer hoisted all three hypothermic survivors aboard the aircraft and took them to the closest hospital on the mainland. According to U.S. Coast Guard Lt. George Suchanek, the pilot of the MH-65C Dolphin helicopter responding to the call, "That EPIRB saved their lives." Video of the rescue from the helicopter's on-board camera is posted on the BoatUS website www.BoatUS.com/Videos/default.asp?catID=25

The Oil Spill

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the impacts of the oil in the Gulf on recreational boaters and anglers quickly became apparent. The Foundation worked rapidly to create a resource for recreational boaters on matters

Chris Edmonston, President of the Foundation, surveying the impacts of the spill. Chris replaces Ruth Wood
(see above right).
pertaining to the oil spill. Working with numerous departments at BoatUS, Foundation staff helped to build and maintain the BoatUS Oil Spill webpages containing boat maintenance and warranty information from manufacturers, the latest news from the federal agencies, and up-to-date maps of the spill area and closed fishing areas. We also helped leverage BoatUS's network of towers, cooperating marinas, and members in the Gulf Region to provide updates on the conditions on the ground.

As the widespread and lasting impacts of the spill became known, the Foundation worked with our partners at Versus TV and Careco Multimedia to develop a television program, "The Gulf Today and Tomorrow," that featured 13 episodes on how the spill was impacting residents and the boating and fishing community. Foundation staff travelled to the Gulf for filming and made significant technical contributions to the series.

Marine Debris

In the last three years, the Foundation's efforts addressing man-made debris in our waterways have expanded to cover not just monofilament fishing line but also cigarette litter at marinas and, more broadly, working on waterway cleanups. In 2010, the Foundation expanded its partnership with West Marine on fishing-line recycling by incorporating all West Marine stores offering line re-spooling into our line-recycling database. This allows them to quantify the amount of line being collected and recycled from their stores. West Marine in turn provided the Foundation with gift certificates for use as a reporting incentive for the volunteer bin hosts in the program.

This year marked the second year of the Foundation's partnership with Keep America Beautiful (KAB), a national litter-prevention organization. Together KAB and the Foundation partnered with 40 marinas around the country to address cigarette litter. Each marina was provided $500 to purchase ash receptacles and 300 portable ashtrays to distribute to boaters. The response to this program has been tremendous with an average reduction in cigarette litter at participating marinas of more than 50 percent.

Other Ways to Give

2010 was also the first year of the Foundation's partnership with Action Donation Services, an organization devoted to helping nonprofits accept and process property donations. If you have a boat, RV, car, or truck that you'd like to donate, Action Donation Services can pick it up nearly anywhere in the country and a portion of the proceeds come directly to the Foundation to help keep our waterways safe and clean.

In addition to sending $5 with your BoatUS Membership renewal, you can also visit our website for more information about supporting the Foundation. The Giving Marketplace highlights items such as lighthouse checks, custom photo albums, and BoatUS Foundation logo items that you can purchase to show everyone that you support the cause of cleaner, safer waterways. Plus, a portion of every sale comes back to the Foundation to help keep our programs afloat! www.BoatUS.com/Foundation/NauticalStore

This nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization is devoted to generating ideas and projects that keep boaters safer, and our environment protected. The Foundation is independently funded by donations from organizations and individuals, and by grants. www.BoatUS.com/Foundation

President of the BoatUS Foundation, Ruth Wood, has announced her retirement after 28 years. In addition to her illustrious career at the Foundation, she served as Chair of the National Safe Boating Council, was a Member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Board of Directors, and worked on the Underwriters Laboratories PFD Technical Panel and the US Coast Guard's Boating Safety Advisory Council. Wood will remain a volunteer member of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation. She plans to continue her passion for choral singing and camping, hiking, sailing, and kayaking with her Golden Retriever, Jackie.