YOU CAN DO FELLOW BOATERS, the boating industry, and the boating environ- ment a big favor if you take a newbie boating. That was the top conclusion of a two-day “boating growth summit” organized by the National Marine Manufacturers
Association that brought 150 boating “stakeholders” together in Chicago. Participants from
across the U.S. and Canada represented not just the boat, equipment, and accessory manufacturers, but government agencies, safety organizations, youth programs, and consumer
groups such as BoatU.S.
“The summit proved to be a real eye opener for everyone there,” said BoatU.S. President
Margaret Podlich. “Looking at the situation from the boating consumer’s point of view, as we
do, if we want our kids and grandkids to have the same kind of opportunities to enjoy the
water that we’ve had, it’s important to bring new people into our favorite activity.” Podlich
noted that boaters and anglers pump about $650 million a year into the programs that benefit us every day, through federal gasoline taxes and excise taxes on fishing tackle. To that,
add millions more that boaters contribute through boat registration fees, and sales and use
taxes in many states, and it becomes apparent how significant boaters’ contributions are to
healthy ecosystems and boating programs.
“If boating participation declines — and that’s where it’s headed, as we learned at the
summit — then we stand to lose boating infrastructure, safety education, and on-water law
enforcement, as well as numerous fishery- and habitat-improvement programs that boaters
pay for,” Podlich noted.
One way to turn that tide emerged as the second most important action from the summit: Take a friend boating. In other words, currently active boaters should invite non-boating
friends, neighbors, and family members out for a day on the water. If they catch the boating
bug, BoatU.S. has a wealth of information available online and informative, free publications
for the asking at www.BoatUS.com.
So, next time you introduce a non-boating friend to the joys of the boating lifestyle, be
sure and take their photo aboard and send it in to us. We’ll use the best ones in BoatU.S.
Magazine. See page 12 for e-mailing instructions. — R.L.
MORE TRANSIENT DOCKS
FOR 10 STATES
AN INNOVATIVE federal grant program that pays for facili- ties to serve transient boaters
moved into its second decade with the
awarding of $7.5 million for 11 major
infrastructure projects in 10 states. On
January 25, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service awarded the latest round of
funding — which boaters pay for through
federal excise taxes — bringing the total
to $128.5 million since the Boating
Infrastructure Grant (BIG) program went
into effect in 2002.
The funds go to construct new
docks, dinghy landings, and mooring
fields, plus water, electric, and sewage
utilities. Fund awards can also be used
to renovate existing facilities as long as
they serve transient recreational boats
(defined as staying 10 days or less) that
are 26 feet or larger. Grantees may also
BoatU.S. successfully steered the BIG
program through Congress in the late
1990s in order to provide some benefits
for larger, non-trailerable boats that
were paying federal gasoline taxes but
getting little in return. — R.L.
Slidell, Louisiana, received
one of 11 BIG grants.
use funds to produce and distribute
information and educational materials
about the program and recreational
boating as well as smaller construction
projects, usually under $100,000. This
year the service released another $2.6
million for projects in this category in
PHOTO: BILL BORCHERT
TORPEDOED TANKER NO ENVIRONMENTAL TIME BOMB
AFULLY LOADED 440-FOOT OIL TANKER torpedoed and sunk during World War II by a Japanese submarine off the California coast is now likely empty, according to a recently completed U.S. Coast Guard investigation. The S.S. Montebello was torpedoed
six miles offshore between Los Angeles and Santa Cruz on December 23, 1941, with more
than 3 million gallons of fuel oil in her tanks. The crew escaped but Montebello sank in 900
feet of water. The sinking was largely forgotten until 1996 when a small research submarine
found the wreck lying perfectly upright with its tanks appearing to be intact.
Authorities feared advancing corrosion might someday breach the ship’s tanks and
release the oil — about one-third that carried by the Exxon Valdez. But an October 2011
inspection using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) indicated Montebello’s tanks were empty.
NOAA scientists theorize that the oil oozed out slowly over the years and may have been so
widely dispersed that it went unnoticed by boaters and beachgoers. — Jack Innis