Published on Thu, May 15, 2008
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Legislation would exempt recreational boaters from federal permits

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) wants your help in supporting legislation that will exempt recreational boaters from having to obtain a federal permit to operate their boats.

The Clean Boating Act of 2008 fully and permanently restores what NMMA calls a “longstanding commonsense regulation that excludes recreational boaters and anglers from the federal and state permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act designed for land-based industrial facilities and ocean-going commercial ships,” according to a press release.

“This issue has been a cloud hanging over our industry and, as promised, Senators Boxer and Nelson have worked to address it,” said Scott Gudes, vice president of government relations for NMMA. “We call on Congress to swiftly adopt this bill well in advance of the September 2008 permitting deadline.”

The Clean Boating Act of 2008 restores a 35-year old Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exemption for water-based, non-polluting incidental discharges that occur in the normal operation of a recreational boat, such as weather deck run-off and engine coolant water. The legislation recognizes that discharges from recreational boats, which are operated on average 31 days a year, are completely distinct from commercial ship discharges.

To help protect the health of the nation’s waterways on which recreational boaters and anglers depend, the bill also pursues whether reasonable best management practices need to be put into place for some recreational boat discharges since recreational boats are regulated already under the clean water act, the clean vessel act and the oil pollution act as well as other federal and state laws.

“There is no need for federal or state permits for water-based discharges from recreational boats,” Gudes said. “This legislation takes a balanced approach which protects the American marine manufacturing sector, boaters and anglers, and the nation’s aquatic resources.”

The issue of new federal permits stems from a September 2006 U.S. District Court ruling that ordered the EPA to regulate ballast water discharges, and mandated a deadline of September 2008 to put it in place.

Although the litigation was aimed at ocean-going vessels, the court’s ruling struck down an exemption instituted in 1973 that applied to the incidental discharges from all vessels, including recreational boats. Large ocean-going ships use ballast water for stability and routinely discharge that water, introducing pollutants and invasive species in U.S. waters in the process.

“Unfortunately, the court’s decision to overturn the entire exemption unintentionally tossed recreational boats into the same category as commercial ships,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the NMMA.

“While minimizing the exchange of ballast water from one international port to another is very important in reducing the spread of aquatic invasive species, it is equally important not to sweep small recreational boats into the same regulatory scheme.

“It was clearly never the intention of the law, or the EPA, to treat your everyday boater the same as these large ocean-going ships, and doing so would have a devastating effect on recreational boating.”
For more information, visit

Coast Guard warns that boating safety doesn’t end out of the water

Some boating accidents occur while transiting to and from the water and quite frequently on the launch ramp. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary says “a successful boating outing begins when you leave home and ends when you safely return home.”

Since the majority of recreational boats in the United States are transported to and from the water it is important that boaters take as much care transporting their boat, whether it be a power boat, sailboat, paddle craft or personal water craft as they do operating their boat on the water.

When it comes to trailered boats nine out of ten trailering malfunctions and accidents can be directly traced back to a failure to dedicate some time to the most basic preventative maintenance. Wheel bearings, suspension parts, lights, and a host of other components reacquire constant attention, to help insure any trailering trip smooth and hassle free. Special attention to the tow vehicle’s hitch is a good idea, as that is the only link between the tow vehicle and trailer.

Also consider the fact that one needs a special license and classification to drive things like motorcycles, school busses and vehicles with air brakes like semi-trailer trucks and gravel trucks. But just about anyone can go out and buy a $30,000 boat and trailer, attach it to his/her car and simply drive away. No special training is required beforehand and no special license classification is needed. 

Anyone who has ever hauled a boat around for a number of years knows that it may not be too difficult to drive in a straight line at low speeds. But when it comes to things like driving at highway speeds, passing other vehicles, high winds, backing up, the task becomes much more difficult than one might think. 

The U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety offers safety tips for trailering, pre-launching preparations, launching, retrieval and boat storing at For more information along with how to take a boating safety course or get a free vessel safety check, visit

Safety courses can help save on boat insurance

As the summer sun beckons, many boat owners dust off their captain’s hats and head for open waters.

Unfortunately for many would-be skippers, a lack of basic safety or adequate insurance coverage can dry up their swell of good times.
Boat safety and boating insurance are both essential to summer fun. A boater’s insurance policy provides coverage for you and any members of your household if your boat is damaged or you cause damage to someone else’s boat.

In addition, boating safety courses are not only helpful, they may also save you money on your boat owners insurance.

Boat insurance can provide year-round protection for your boat. A boat owners policy can cover your boat, motor, and equipment from damage caused by theft, vandalism, windstorm, hail, lightning, fire, or explosion. It also covers your boat if it is damaged in transit.

Liability and Medical Payments coverage can also help protect you and your passengers in case of accidental injuries or medical expenses resulting in injuries received during a boating accident.

Taking a few simple precautions can keep your boat from being the target of boat theft. Consider the following tips to help keep your boat safe from thieves:

• Secure your boat with a lock.

• Keep the boat trailer secured with a tongue lock.

• Keep both boat and trailer out in the open preventing clandestine theft.

Boat owners insurance won’t prevent your boat from sinking, but it can definitely help keep your finances afloat when accidents occur.