Sea Tow Foundation renews sober-boating campaign

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The Sea Tow Foundation is launching its third annual Designated Skipper campaign on Memorial Day weekend across the United States.

The campaign encourages boaters to designate a sober skipper and asks them to sign a pledge committing to alcohol-free operation of their boats at all times.

Alcohol was the No. 1 contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, according to the most recent recreational boating statistics released by the Coast Guard, in 2015. That year, boating under the influence resulted in 260 accidents, 228 injuries and 91 deaths.

The foundation said it takes less than five minutes to join the Designated Skipper campaign. All that boaters need to do is visit Sea Tow’s DesignatedSkipper.com website and pledge that they will:

* Not operate a vessel if their plans include drinking alcohol

* Be responsible for their vessel and all passengers

* Be or designate a sober skipper.

BUI is against the law in all states, and although alcohol impairs a boat operator much as it does the driver of a car, there are effects that intensify the effects of alcohol and impair balance and coordination on a boat, including wind, vibration, noise and the sun.

“Maintaining balance and coordination while operating a boat, especially when waters are rough, is already challenging enough, so while we encourage boaters to enjoy being on the water we also ask them to leave the driving to someone else if they choose to drink,” Sea Tow Foundation board of directors vice president Kristen Frohnhoefer said in a statement. “And we ask encourage all boaters to make this commitment ahead of time prior to leaving the docks this summer.”

“We want everyone to have fun out on the water, but we encourage them to do it responsibly so everyone makes it back to shore safely,” she said. “So take the pledge today for yourself, your family, friends and anyone else who is in your boat, as well as everyone else who is out there on the water.”

Besides taking the pledge, the Designated Skipper website provides free promotional kits that boating organizations and others can use to publicize the campaign at places where they’re most likely to be seen by boaters, such as marinas, fuel docks, ship’s supply stores, restaurants near the water and on life jacket loaner stands.

Each free kit contains enough materials for about 100 people and includes a clear plastic container and lid, 50 boat decals and 100 wristbands.

The Designated Skipper website also features videos, one showing how to have fun responsibly while boating with friends and the other focusing on the importance of designating a sober skipper when out on the water with family.

The Designated Skipper program is designed to reinforce efforts against BUI by the Coast Guard and is supported by a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration & Boating Trust Fund.

The campaign also relies on strategic partnerships between the Sea Tow Foundation and other organizations associated with the marine industry.

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