The Sea Tow Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting boater safety, is urging boaters to be safe this Memorial Day weekend through its second annual Designated Skipper Campaign. Memorial Day is one of the busiest holidays on the water, often revered as the kick off to the boating season.
Alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents where the primary cause was known, according to a 2014 U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics report, and it was listed as the leading factor in 21 percent of deaths. The Designated Skipper Campaign’s goal is to eliminate boating under the influence (BUI) and alcohol-related accidents on the water while keeping boating fun for everyone.
This year, the Sea Tow Foundation is providing the top three ways boaters can be safe this Memorial Day:
- Designate a sober skipper before leaving the dock. A designated skipper can take a pledge by visiting DesignatedSkipper.com before boating this summer. Upon signing, designated skippers pledge to respect the legal drinking age, be responsible for the vessel and passengers, and be or designate a sober skipper.
- Know the rules of the water. Take a boating safety class before you leave the dock. Find one at boatingsafety.com.
- Make sure there are enough life vests, and all passengers know where to find them, on the boat. Find a Life Jacket Loaner Station at boatingsafety.com.
“Having and keep safety top of mind,” said Michael Wesolowski, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “Through our Designated Skipper Campaign, which is similar to a designated driver for cars, we encourage boaters to take the pledge and identify a sober skipper who is responsible for the safe operation of the vessel and safety of all passengers while aboard whenever they are out on the water.”
While the Foundation encourages all boaters to stay safe year-round, it is actively asking boaters to take the Designated Skipper pledge before Memorial Day, one of the busiest boating days of the year. The goal is to help lower and ideally eliminate the deaths and accidents associated with BUI, with the hope that by taking the pledge this year, boaters will remember to designate a sober skipper before leaving the dock.
The Sea Tow Foundation’s Designated Skipper campaign is supported by a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund as administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. The program provides free pamphlets, stickers, posters, wristbands and other unique giveaways that promote boating safety. The free and informative resources are placed in areas where boaters will see and pick them up such as marinas, fuel docks, ship’s supply stores and on life jacket loaner stands. Bars and restaurants frequented by boaters are also given free coasters, wristbands and stickers with the Designated Skipper message on them. In addition to the Designated Skipper program, the Sea Tow Foundation also promotes boat safety through their Life Jacket Loaner program, providing more than 35,000 life jackets over the last eight years to recreational boaters.
Sea Tow Captains across the U.S. are also mounting grassroots efforts to spread the word about Designated Skipper to their local Sea Tow members and other boaters in the region. In addition to grant funding, the Designated Skipper campaign relies on strategic partnerships between the Sea Tow Foundation and other organizations in and associated with the marine industry. Organizations and companies that want to help promote the Sea Tow Foundation’s Designated Skipper campaign may visit DesignatedSkipper.com to order free campaign materials and giveaways that they can distribute to the boaters in their area. To stay up to date on the latest information and activities, follow the Sea Tow Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages.