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From Legislation to a Kickoff Boat Show

DealerOutlook

South Carolina dealers and others participated in a big media event to call attention to the proposed PREPARE Act sitting in Congress, while the largest spring in-water boat show on the Great Lakes opens tomorrow in Ohio for its three-day run.

With TV cameras and other media on board, boating industry stakeholders cast off to show the co-chair of the Congressional Boating Caucus, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), the need for passing the Providing Resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Enterprises Act, aka the PREPARE Act.

Cruising the waterways in Charleston S.C., Mace was able to see first-hand how and why the PREPARE Act would benefit small marine businesses by providing much-needed capital to invest in disaster-resilient infrastructure and in implementation measures that protect against natural disasters. The loans are crucial for businesses in vulnerable coastal communities.

Chris Butler, of South Carolina-based Butler Marine, shared his experience when Hurricane Elsa, one of the earliest storms on record, slammed his Charleston dealership and marina with a micro tornado July 7 last year. Elsa had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but that made little difference when it arrived.

“The storm took out about 80 percent of our docks, knocked over and pushed three boats in the yard that weighed over 10,000 pounds about 30 feet, and wiped out the door to our drystack building that was rated for 125-mph winds,” Butler said. “Our staging area for the drystack was unusable, and fortunately, our launch dock remained intact.”

It took more than thee months to return to “normal” operations and conclude insurance issues. “Because Elsa was a named hurricane, all sorts of insurance considerations, led by higher deductibles, were in play,” Butler said. “In the end, our out-of-pocket costs surpassed $125,000, and the time and problems to get back to full operation were wearing on our entire team.”

Referring to the PREPARE Act, Butler pointed out that if loans included in the legislation had been available, he could have accomplished the repairs faster and continued to grow the business. Just as important, he sees that the PREPARE Act would make it possible to improve infrastructure that could diminish future storm damage.

Mace is a co-sponsor of the PREPARE Act. The on-site meeting and inspections were arranged by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. The local delegation was also led by Gettys Brannon, president of the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance.

Local media coverage of the event included:

NBC 2, Charleston: Bill would help small marinas prepare and recover from natural disasters

ABC 4, Charleston: Rep. Nancy Mace co-sponsors PREPARE Act to help small businesses after disaster

Marine industry efforts to move the PREPARE Act forward is a high priority because of the need for climate-resilient infrastructure and disaster mitigation.

Boat Show Opens in Lake Erie

The Catawba Island Boat Show opens tomorrow and is expected to draw more than 10,000 attendees to the Catawba Island Club in western Lake Erie. The show has become known as the kick-off of the Ohio boating season because of its location and festival-like atmosphere.

“The show keeps growing in popularity,” says Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. “We continue to add entertainment and special events for visitors to experience when they’re not climbing aboard the boats. Together, they do make it a boating season kickoff party.”

Topping the list of the new features is On-The-Water-Ohio’s new “Discovery Center” featuring a Paddling Pavilion centered on kayaks, paddleboards and related accessories, along with in-water demonstrations by paddling pros. Expert Lake Erie kayak angler Chuck Earls will hold daily clinics on kayak rigging and fishing techniques.

There also is a new On-The-Water-Ohio Marketplace curated by Cuyahoga Collectives and featuring local and regional crafters and artisans. And for fishing fanatics, there will be seminars with Capt. Ross Robertson on walleye techniques and the angling outlook for the year.

Another addition is an All-Family Patio, an area with lounge seating, games and activities, and a fire pit with smores for all. Live music will keep toes tapping, and a Discover Sailing area will feature cruising sailboats with licensed captains to take prospective sailors out on the lake. It’ll be hands-on for the would-be sailors as they’ll raise sails, take the helm and feel the wind.

LEMTA produces five boat shows annually in Ohio.

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