Celebrating life on the water Part 1

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It’s unprecedented. It’s already a success. And it hasn’t actually happened yet.

But it will happen this Saturday across the country when “Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day” becomes the first nationwide celebration of boating.

It’s the result of a unified effort by the industry’s Discover Boating campaign, the Association of Marina Industries and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. To date, a record 250-plus marinas from coast to coast are set to host events as varied and unique as the locations they’re in. They are already promoting their events locally while Discover Boating and NationalMarinaDay.org push them nationally.

The objective is simple: to showcase and introduce thousands of boaters and wanna-be boaters to marina life and to the enjoyment of boating in its many forms. That’s also been the goal of an event started three years ago called Marinafest in California’s Marina del Rey. Russ Carrington at Action Watersports reports: “This is the first time we’ve participated in National Marina Day and we’ve expanded and moved the Marinafest date to coincide.”

Carrington’s Action Watersports, for example, is hosting a Kayak/SUP area cleanup paddling event on Saturday morning. Meanwhile, other events on the schedule include a boat show (sail and power), free boat rides, free water-taxi service between various yacht clubopen-house events, a swap meet, freshwater wetlands tours, vendors, food among other activities.

The Freedom Boat Club in St. Augustine, Fla., has teamed up with Julington Creek Marina in Jacksonville for National Marina Day. According to Freedom’s “Boatanista,” Lisa Almeida, all 60 Freedom locations nationwide are doing “Take The Helm” clinics on close-quarters boat-handling, docking and anchoring techniques. Julington is also promoting its BoatUS life-jacket loaner program.

Looking north to the Great Lakes, many member marinas of the Michigan Boating Industries Association are featuring free boating demonstrations on Saturday. “We’re giving people an opportunity to get on a boat and sample the lifestyle,” MBIA executive director Nicki Polan said. “And we’re coupling that with promotion of National Fishing & Boating Week (June 1-9) and Michigan’s Free Fishing weekend (June 8-9). It’s all bringing great attention to our boating opportunities.”

Are you participating? If not, you might want to think about this. Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day is a coordinated start to a national celebration of boating. But it’s intended to encourage dealers and marinas to hold events that focus on the boating lifestyle all summer. Truth is, any marina can have a “Marina Day” anytime. Dry-land dealers, too, can hook up with a local marina for a weekend event anytime — like Wilson Marine and Island Cove Marina are doing this weekend in Waterford Township, Mich.

Activities can range from on-water demonstrations and boat rides to actual hands-on skills training and boater education clinics. Other ideas being done at marinas include sailboat experiences, paddleboard demos, Coast Guard demos, a canoe and /or kayak rodeo, boater BBQ, a special kids boating area, fishing clinics, fire extinguisher checks and seminars on how to get started in the boating lifestyle, to note a few.

But it’s up in the state of Washington that we find the Northwest Marine Trades Association has raised the Welcome to the Water National Marina Day bar to a new industry high. Don’t miss this Thursday’s Dealer Outlook when I share what the NMTA and it members are doing in Part 2 of “Celebrating life on the water.”

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