The Sea Tow Foundation – a nationwide nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of safe boating practices – has announced it has received two new grants from the United States Coast Guard for the 2021-22 grant year and is continuing a multi-year grant as well.
The grants – administered through the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund – will be used to support the Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program, Sober Skipper Campaign, and create an Electronic Flare Awareness and Education Program.
The Sober Skipper Campaign, will celebrate its ninth year in 2022. The grant funds will help the Foundation continue its goal of building greater awareness of the importance of having a qualified and sober boat operator at all times on board to eliminate Boating Under the Influence (BUI) accidents using grassroots efforts, social media, and the Sober Skipper website to spread the message in boating communities around the country.
“Alcohol is the leading known contributor in fatal boating accidents, so our Sober Skipper Campaign is aimed at preventing these tragedies by ensuring a Sober Skipper is appointed before every boating trip,” said Gail R. Kulp, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation. “Through these grant funds, we’ll be able to continue to increase the Campaign’s reach using traditional and digital advertising efforts."
A grant to educate and make boaters aware of electronic Visual Distress Signal (eVDS) options, also known as electronic flares or e-flares, is a new initiative for the Sea Tow Foundation. The goal is to help boaters understand how these devices work and that they meet the U.S. Coast Guard’s carriage requirements when used in conjunction with a distress signal flag. An e-flare can replace potentially dangerous pyrotechnic flares that expire every 3 years and contain dangerous chemicals that can affect the water quality. Operated simply with store-bought batteries, an e-flare can signal for hours and is a safer and more economical way of alerting other boaters when a vessel is in distress.
The Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program will continue its work as part of a multi-year grant, which will be used to increase the number of Life Jacket Loaner Stations across the country. In the last 13 years, the Sea Tow Foundation has established more than 800 life jacket loaner stations nationwide with the help of volunteer hosts who set up and maintain the stands in their local communities. In addition, the grant funding will help replenish and repair existing loaner stations. Applications for next summer’s life jackets and loaner stations will open on Nov. 1, 2021, on the Sea Tow Foundation’s website.
The Life Jacket Loaner Program will also help in the maintenance of the Foundation’s online map and database of life jacket loaner station locations around the country.
“We are grateful for the support and trust we’ve developed with the Coast Guard over the last 13 years in receiving grant funding,” Kulp said. “These grants help further our mission of keeping boaters safe and creating lifelong boaters who understand the importance of safety on the water.”