Sea Tow Foundation awarded $220,000 in grants to support boating safety initiatives

SOUTHOLD, N.Y. – The nonprofit Sea Tow Foundation announced it has been awarded two grants from the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The first grant award of $100,000 will fund the Sea Tow Foundation’s national Designated Skipper campaign in 2016. Launched this spring, the campaign supports the U.S. Coast Guard’s efforts to prevent Boating Under the Influence (BUI) by taking a proactive approach to reminding boaters to either be or Designate a Sober Skipper who will not consume any alcohol while operating a boat and will ensure that all passengers get to and from their destination safely.

The second grant award of $120,000 pays for the continuation of the Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Program, which has distributed more than 29,000 loaner life jackets to boaters since its launch in 2008. Boaters may borrow these life jackets from loaner stands, which are positioned at boat ramps, marinas and other popular boating entry points, to replace missing or ill-fitting PFDs for a safer day on the water.

The Sea Tow Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization created by Sea Tow Founder Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer to promote safe boating practices.

“These grants will help us continue giving boaters the tools and education they need to stay safe on the water,” said Michael Wesolowski, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “We would like to thank the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund and the Coast Guard for recognizing and supporting these important boating safety programs.”

Starting in October, the Sea Tow Foundation will be accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and state boating agencies across the U.S. to host one or more life jacket loaner stands in their local areas. While many of the existing life jacket loaner stands are maintained by regional Sea Tow franchisees, this will be the third year that the Sea Tow Foundation has worked with other organizations to ensure that more boaters have access to free loaner life jackets.

The new Designated Skipper campaign was launched this year and is part of the Sea Tow Foundation’s ongoing effort to encourage boaters to designate a sober skipper while out on the water. The program includes raising public awareness by distributing educational materials, wristbands and other giveaways to remind boaters about the dangers of operating a boat under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

“A Designated Skipper is just like a Designated Driver. He or she makes it possible for everyone to go out, have fun and still get home legally and safely,” said Wesolowski, adding that the Sea Tow Foundation will be working with numerous nonprofit organizations, state boating agencies and for-profit companies in the boating industry to help spread the Designated Skipper message.

“Boating under the influence and drowning are two of the leading causes of death for recreational boaters,” said Wesolowski. “These deaths could be prevented by borrowing a properly fitting life jacket and having a Designated Skipper each time boaters head out on the water.”

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