The boating industry has seen a record number of new and existing boaters on the water. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the leading trade association representing North American recreational boat, marine engine and accessory manufacturers, 2022 is expected to be another strong year for new boat sales, which are projected to surpass 2021 totals by as much as three percent. The uptick in boating activity comes with an increased risk of accidents. These
incidents may be due to human error or lack of training. Boating safety and education are paramount to saving lives.
In 2021, Sea Tow Services International – the leading provider of on-water assistance for boaters nationwide – reported ungroundings as a primary need for assistance. This service increased 142% with new boaters, fuel delivery increased 108%, and battery jumps increased 11.2% from the previous year. Sea Tow anticipates another busy season on the water in 2022. In an effort to ensure the safety of the boating community it serves, Sea Tow shares its top tips to keep boaters safe this summer:
- Wearing an Engine Cutoff Switch Lanyard (ECOS) – Boat operators and passengers can accidentally fall overboard for multiple reasons and the boat will continue running even if someone is no longer at the helm. In 2021 a new federal law went into effect that requires the operator of boats under 26 feet to use the Engine Cut-Off Switch (ECOS) link. An ECOS uses a lanyard to connect a captain or their lifejacket to a special clip that attaches to a control on the boat in order for the engine to start or continue running. If the clip is pulled off for any reason, the engine will instantly shut off. The shutdown of the engine is critical for many safety reasons including prevention of being hit by the boat or struck by a spinning engine propeller if the driver is ejected into the water.
- Plan Ahead and Purchase Enough Gas – Prior to setting sail, captains should map out their trip and ensure enough gas is put into the boat. It’s important to never fill the tank beyond 90% full to leave room for gas to expand and avoid the potential for overflow. When refueling, always be sure to follow the proper precautions. Sea Tow recommends following the rule of thirds: 1/3 of fuel to reach the destination, 1/3 of fuel to return home, and 1/3 of fuel to keep in case of emergencies. Utilizing a fuel log can help boaters account for their boat’s fuel level. A captain should know the capacity of their fuel tank, keep tabs on how many hours the engine has run and the average number of gallons the boat burns per hour, that way they can get an estimate of how much fuel is left in the tank or how many hours the boat can run until empty.
- Wear a Life Jacket – It’s required by law to have enough life jackets on-board for each passenger and they need to be the correct size for the passenger. All children under the age of 13 must wear a life jacket at all times in compliance with the U.S. Coast Guard. Since 2008, the Sea Tow Foundation has distributed over 83,000 life jackets to local businesses and organizations across the US. There are currently over 950 life jacket loaner stations that are placed in locations for easy accessibility such as boat ramps, marinas, and parks. Boaters may borrow the life jackets at no cost and are asked to return them when they are finished so that they are available for others to use.
- Take Advantage of Local Knowledge – Even the best of captains and crews need a little help when they’re out on the water. Where’s the nearest dock to gas up? Isn’t there supposed to be a channel marker off this point? When does the tide turn so my boat doesn’t get grounded? Whether it’s navigational assistance or mishap prevention tips, having extra support on the water is always a good thing.
Local Sea Tow Captains have explored all the flats, located all the trouble spots and know the best course of action when the weather turns or the unexpected happens.
“At Sea Tow, we are big advocates of getting out on the water and having fun, but doing so responsibly and safely,” said Sea Tow President, Kristen Frohnhoefer. Frohnhoefer is also the President of the Board for the Sea Tow Foundation, a nonprofit started by her father Captain Joseph Frohnhoefer in 2007.
“It’s important to take the proper safety precautions to eliminate preventable boating accidents and even deaths. Through our work with the Foundation, our goal is to provide access to education, tools, and resources to ensure that everyone – no matter what where they boat – can do so safely while having fun,” she continued.
With a Sea Tow membership, boaters pay one annual rate and receive the most comprehensive member benefits available in the market. Sea Tow has boats on the water to service with 24/7 dispatch. Sea Tow offers its members free boat towing in their home area, unlimited dock-to-dock towing on all boats, alternatives to towing, nationwide offshore coverage, boat salvage and recovery, on-water services, vessel for hire, and more. For some services, additional fees may apply.
Sea Tow, the family-owned and family operated business recognized throughout the marine industry as Your Road Service at Sea® has been on the forefront of on-water assistance since 1983, with more than 500+ ports nationwide including the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The member-driven, franchise-based concept, coined by Captain Joseph Frohnhoefer, was established in Southold, NY, when the United States Coast Guard ceased response to non-emergency boating calls. Today in addition to on-water assistance, the franchise network handles salvage and recovery missions, and responds to natural disasters, environmental hazards and oil spill cleanups.
About Sea Tow Services International, Inc.
Sea Tow Services International Inc., better known as Sea Tow®, has been the innovative and premier leader of on-water assistance since 1983. Servicing the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, members are provided with a 24/7 direct connection with Coast Guard-licensed captains. The pioneering concept, founded by Captain Joseph Frohnhoefer, was established in Southold, NY when the United States Coast Guard ceased response to non-emergency assistance calls.
In addition to on-water assistance, the franchise network handles salvage and recovery missions, and responds to natural disasters, environmental hazards and oil spill cleanups.
Visit seatow.com to learn more.