More than 100 marine firms offer to help

NEW ORLEANS – More than 100 boating businesses have contacted the National Marine Manufacturers Association in an effort to help the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, the association reported in a statement today. Unfortunately, however, many were not able to be put into use.

“On Wednesday, when boats and other equipment could have been used, the security situation in New Orleans deteriorated and search and rescue efforts were suspended,” explained Monite Fontaine, NMMA vice president of government relations. “This delayed the deployment of additional boats into the region. Further compounding this situation were communication difficulties between first responders and FEMA, as a result of the infrastructure destruction in New Orleans. Finally, on Thursday and Friday, the US military entered the city and began to reassert order. Along with this military deployment was a massive USCG presence. NMMA spoke with a Coast Guard liaison on Friday night who indicated that additional boats were not needed in the region at this time.”

While some NMMA members were able to contribute their goods and services, many more were not. However, NMMA and its members “stand ready to assist the State and Federal governments with their relief efforts if they need our help,” Fontaine stated. “We will inform our members should that request be made to us. The Governor's Office, the USCG and other officials with whom we have been in touch all have received the list of NMMA companies offering assistance and have expressed their gratitude at the overwhelming generosity of the industry.”

Some donations get through

Though it has been difficult for some boating industry companies to cut through the red tape involved in contributing boats and supplies to the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, persistence has paid off in a few cases.

Brunswick Corp., which previously announced the donation of Triton and Sea Pro boats rigged with Mercury Marine engines, has partnered with Walt Disney World Resort to deliver nine Trophy center console boats with Mercury Marine engines to New Orleans on Friday to support relief efforts.

Coordinated through the US Marine Division of the Brunswick Boat Group, these boats will be turned over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and used to shuttle refugees, officials and medical supplies in the devastated city. US Marine makes and markets Bayliner, Maxum and Trophy boats as well as Meridian Yachts.

"We approached Walt Disney World because it has one of the largest concentrations of Trophy boats close to the affected areas of the Gulf Coast, and this would allow for those boats to be pressed into use quickly," explained US Marine's Mark Zobel, vice president of marketing. "The response from Disney was overwhelming, and their cooperation will ensure that more help is on the way almost immediately. We are extremely grateful for their assistance and the urgency in which they dealt with this matter."

Blackshear, Ga.-based boat builder Sundance Boats also has donated boats to the cause, with the help of one dealer and several of its suppliers.

The builder of shallow draft flat bottom skiffs and bay boats called Baton Rouge dealer Al Stirling, Stirling Marine, to assist in the donation.

“When I realized our skiff line of boats would help, I quickly called on Al along with our suppliers, AOC Resins, Gibson Fiberglass, Composites One and Johnson Evinrude Outboards, a division of Bombardier Recreational Products, to pitch in and heed the call. We have, as a result, given four Sundance boats powered with Johnson Outboards to the Louisiana Fish and Game for use in their efforts,” said Wally Bell, president of Sundance Boats. The retail value retail of the four boat and motor packages is $60,000.

Many companies are also contributing funds toward the relief effort. For example, the parent company of Ehlert Publishing Group, which owns Boating Industry, Trailer Boats, Bass & Walleye Boats and Powerboat magazines, is doubling its traditional matching efforts. Each dollar contributed by Affinity Group, Inc. employees will result in $3 going to appropriate charitable funds to support relief efforts.

In addition, WakeWorld will be running an online auction of donated items from wake industry companies in order to generate money to help out Hurricane Katrina survivors. One hundred percent of the proceeds from these auctions will go to the American Red Cross.

“During the month of August, WakeWorld had over 4 million pages viewed by over 228,000 unique visitors. It is our goal to leverage this incredible number of avid wakeboarders in order to generate as much money as possible for relief efforts,” stated the company.

The auctions will start on Monday, September 12 and run for at least a week, depending on how much support it gets from the wakeboard industry. All donations and sponsors will be featured on throughout the auctions and for many months afterward as they bring attention to the generosity displayed by the sponsors. Press releases will go out to the major wakeboarding magazines featuring the names of all sponsors as well.

If your company is interested in making an auction item or a package of items available, you can send an email to with the details of what products are contained in the package, images of the products and your company logo.

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