Like many sailing and boating grounds in the world, the sailors in the waterways of the USA are feeling an increasing load of regulations and less and less 'freedom of the sea.' This has led Nancy Michelmas, publisher of BoatU.S, to write of the subject and what can be done about it in the United States. Readers from other countries might sympathize!
"Quit picking on the little guy" BoatU.S. publisher pleads
For several years BoatU.S. has been concerned about the 'hassle factors', increasingly impinging on our ability to go boating. We've written about the myriad access issues around the country as it gets harder to get to the water, on the water, and as we face continued changes in where and what we can fish.
Most disturbing are some recent legislative developments that unfairly single out boaters. For example, if a state is going to ban the use of copper antifouling bottom paints, as Washington state just did, why should the ban apply only to recreational vessels? Certainly commercial and military vessels use far more paint than we do and represent a far greater impact to the environment. The answer is simple: A larger ban wouldn't have passed. We understand why many people would like to get rid of copper in bottom paint. However, on this issue, it looks like the little guy is bearing the brunt of this ban alone.
Recreational boaters are also being unfairly singled out with proposed federal legislation called the 'Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act' that would eliminate the existing second-home mortgage-interest deduction for boats with galleys, heads, and bunks, but not for second homes and RVs.
Applying a new law to all second 'homes' would be more equitable. That this legislation is even on the table illustrates a continued need to better inform Congress about who boaters really are.
As we've been reporting, the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers continue to push mandatory life jacket wear for adults. While BoatU.S. strongly supports boating safely, when we recently asked members, they overwhelmingly opposed (9 to 1) mandatory life jacket wear for adults.
We actively support the development of comfortable jackets that don't inhibit movement, the acceptance of alternate jackets already used and approved in Europe, and streamlining the USCG approval process. We believe that safety education works. In fact the U.S. Coast Guard just reported in the 2010 Recreational Boating Statistics that total boating fatalities have fallen to the lowest number on record.
Contrary to the Holly wood image, the majority of boaters are not rich, fat cats. Three out of four boat-owning households have an annual income under $100,000.
In fact, 95% of powerboats on the water today are 26 feet or less: 42 percent are actually less than 16 feet. BoatU.S. was started 45 years ago to defend the rights of the little guy, so if you're as disturbed as I am by all the impediments to boating that we face today, talk to your boating buddies about joining BoatU.S. We're more than an insurance company, more than a towing service, more than a provider of boating new and information - we're your voice on Capitol Hill and we're actively fighting every day for recreational boaters' rights.
The more members we have, the louder our voice, the more we'll accomplish. Thanks for being aboard!
About Nancy S Michelman:
Hooked on sailing at summer camp in Maine at the tender age of 10, Nancy’s boating adventures have taken her from the Pacific Ocean off Southern California to the Caribbean and the Greek Islands. She now cruises the Chesapeake Bay in her 20-foot Grady White. She was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2003, and in 2006 became the Association’s President. Additionally, she was appointed BoatU.S. Magazine publisher in 2008. With a forte for marketing, she is largely responsible for the Association’s growth to over half a million members today. She authors the 'At The Helm' column in the magazine.
Nancy S Michelman