Keeping New Boaters in the Fold

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The Marine Trades Association of Maryland is taking the lead in recognizing the influx of new boaters our industry is enjoying this year — and the pressing need to keep the focus on these new customers’ satisfaction.

“We want to ensure all boaters have a good experience and remain in boating,” explains Susan Zellers, MTAM executive director. “We’re especially reaching out to all those new boaters. If they’re comfortable and confident in their knowledge, they will likely remain in our sport for the long haul. We want to help make that happen.”

MTAM has partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Boat U.S. Foundation to coordinate a series of “Welcome to Boating” clinics. The goal is to teach new boaters how to properly launch, retrieve, load and dock a trailerable boat. For many, these are the most intimidating parts of boating and MTAM is promoting the clinics as “judgement free” places to learn and practice these skills.

There’s no doubt that an unexpected silver lining to the coronavirus for the boating industry has been people seeking socially distant activities. Many first timers have purchased boats as the family activity that replaces lost vacations trips, summer camps and the like. Zellers also emphasizes that statistically, 40 percent of new boaters will drop out of the activity within five years.

“We want to find ways to prevent that,” Zeller says. “These clinics are an example of the excellent partnership MTAM has with the Maryland DNR and we foresee moving forward with such clinics annually, especially at the start of the boating season. It’s another way we can support our member dealers,” she adds.

The events are marketed as, ‘BEGINNERS WELCOME! Clinics will offer an easy way to learn or refresh your skills needed to launch, dock and trailer your boat.’

Wearing of masks is required, and groups will be managed for optimal social distancing.

Clinics are scheduled for: September 1 and 3 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Sandy Point State Park.
Reservations can be made here.

Ladies Let’s Go Fishing!

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This final event on Ladies Let’s Go Fishing Foundation schedule is set for October 23-25, according to Betty Bauman, founder of the long-standing nonprofit. This edition of the award-winning series has been dubbed “Florida Keys University” because it will be held in the Sport Fishing Capital of the World.

Thousands of aspiring lady anglers have participated in Bauman’s “No-Yelling School of Fishing” over the years. Attendees learn and practice hands-on skills and then can go fishing with selected charter captains and guides.

It’s a remarkably full program. It includes classroom presentations, two networking events, lots of hands-on skill practice and optional charter boat fishing. Classes will be held at the Elks Lodge in Tavernier. No equipment or experience is necessary for attendees.

More specifically, optional charter fishing out of Islamorada is offered on Friday and Sunday, with prizes awarded for the LLGF Fishing Fever Tournament to those fishing both days. All the hands-on fishing skills are taught by experienced guides and include — releasing fish, knot tying, dehooking, bait rigging, spin casting, gaffing, cast netting and more.

CDC guidelines and protocols will be followed throughout, emphasizes Bauman.

Interested anglers can register here.

Featured on national TV and more, the series is supported by major partners including: Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation, Take Me Fishing and Vamos a Pescar; Mercury Marine; Magic Tilt trailers; Scout Boats; Seven Seas Yacht Sales; Power-Pole; and Fish Florida. The largest annual sponsors include: CCA Florida STAR; TACO Marine; Freedom Boat Club; Sunrise Resort & Marina; Seaguar; and the Future Angler Foundation. Local sponsors are: Breezy Palms; Seaside Glass Works; Jeanne Towne Fidelity Real Estate; and the Monroe County Tourist Development Council.

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