Great Lakes Angler Blog

Three Tips for Spring Boating from BoatUS

Monday, April 06, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Across America at boat launch ramps, the familiar growl of boat motors waking up from their long winter nap heralds the start of the boating season. But what makes boating, fishing or sailing this time of year different from all others? When it comes to safety, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has three tips to answer that question:  Read Full Story

New Premium Boat Graphics Service by BoatUS Comes With Your Own Private Designer

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Boat names are as varied as boat owners. However, owners looking for something special to put on their vessel now have a new premium level Custom Boat Graphics service from Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) that includes the services of their own private designer. The new Custom Boat Graphics service is for boaters who want something more than just boat name lettering, but who may not have the time or creative talent to design their artwork. “Boaters only need to come to us with an idea, and in as little as two to three business days we have a custom designed artwork ready for installation -- not just a boat name -- delivered to their door,” said Boat Graphics Specialist Ron Crittendon.  Read Full Story

Most boaters should tow for free

Thursday, June 05, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, VA -- Tossing a towline to a disabled boat and bringing it back safely to the launch ramp is a time honored act of kindness that recreational boaters have always done for each other. But what happens if the Good Samaritan tossing the line decides to charge for their services? Is there much of a difference between a Good Sam looking for a little extra gas money and a professional towing service charging for on water towing services?

According to Boat Owners Association of The United States, once money changes hands for a routine tow, a Good Sam is opened up to a world of liability they may not want in their lap. Accepting money also requires a mariner’s credential – such as a Captain’s license – and would require commercial registration of the towing vessel.

While Boat Owners Association of The United States offers the largest on water towing fleet in the US, it understands the law of averages: There are 12 million registered recreational vessels in the nation and some are bound to breakdown. In 2013, the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch centers alone received 70,000 requests for on water assistance, and the boat owners group says there are likely thousands of Good Samaritans each year lending a helping hand to other boaters. Said BoatUS Towing Services Vice President Adam Wheeler, “Towing is a job best left for the professionals, but many boaters often find themselves in areas where professional assistance is not available."

While Good Samaritan laws vary from state to state, they generally provide that anyone who renders aid to injured persons is not liable for any damages if the assistance is provided in good faith, without compensation or other consideration, and without gross negligence. And in fact, in some states, failing to render emergency assistance to the persons involved can also possibly put you in trouble with the law – but there is no duty to require a Good Sam to tow or “save” a boat.

For federally designated ‘navigable’ waterways, federal law trumps state law and says that the master or individual involved in rendering assistance “is not liable for damages as a result of rendering assistance or for an act or omission in providing or arranging salvage, towage, medical treatment or other assistance when the individual acts as an ordinary, reasonable and prudent individual would have acted under the circumstances.”

“A boater who does not charge for rendering assistance is protected under the Good Samaritan laws for any damages or injuries that might occur during the tow,” said Wheeler. “If money exchanges hands and someone gets injured or the disabled boat gets damaged, you’re no longer considered a Good Sam and would be opening the door to much more liability. You may be even personally liable, depending on your insurance policy – if you have one. It’s just something else to think about before throwing a towline and asking for money. A commercial towing company carries insurance to cover those types of mishaps.”

For boaters committed to being a Good Samaritan, BoatUS has these tips:

  1. Never put yourself in danger or go beyond your capabilities.
  2. For the safety of everyone, always report disabled vessels to the Coast Guard or other authority.
  3. Ensure that your cleats are properly backed and you have the properly sized tow line (some lines can stretch and suddenly break).
  4. Understand that once you start towing, the Good Sam has a duty for the safety and care for those aboard the disabled vessel.
  5. Minimize risk by having everyone don their life jackets and remain seated – away from the bow in case a line parts or cleat gives way.
  6. Maintain headway for control, but don’t tow any faster than leaving a small wake.
  7. Be careful to prevent other boat traffic from crossing the towline. Keep a horn or whistle available to warn others to stay clear.
  8. Always tow to the nearest safe place. While it may not be near where anyone wants to go, it will shorten the time of the tow and minimize any exposure liability, and gets passengers to a place where they can fix the boat or arrange for a proper tow. The BoatUS 24-hour Dispatch Center can be reached at 800-391-4869 or via the free BoatUS Towing App.
  9. Another option is to stand close by, but not undertake the tow and wait for a responder to arrive while staying close just in case of emergencies. A Good Sam could also remain on the right side of the law - and keep potential liability low - by simply removing the disabled boat’s occupants and returning them to the dock, while arranging for a local tow of the broken down (and safely anchored) boat.

“It’s always good to help out a fellow boater because sooner or later, it could be you asking for a tow back to the dock,” said Wheeler. “However, the best backstop for routine on water troubles is to consider a BoatUS annual towing plan.” BoatUS towing plans start at $67 annually (freshwater boaters) and include BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. For more, go to


  Read Full Story

Why Boaters Hate Ethanol

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – If you own a boat, you may have heard by now that a government mandate has been increasing the amount of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supply, which not only damages boat engine and fuel systems but can present very real safety concerns. Mandating the increasing use of the ethanol was legislation passed in 2005, the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which BoatUS, along with a coalition of world hunger, oil and gas industry, environmental, and restaurant groups, petroleum distributors, meat and poultry producers, and auto and power equipment manufacturers, is now fighting to repeal. That’s because the Standard no longer reflects America’s fuel usage, which has been on a decline and is opposite of the legislation’s assumptions made nearly a decade ago.

No matter what side of the coin you’re on, it’s clear the RFS isn’t working for recreational boat owners. Here’s a short video from the American Petroleum Institute, one of BoatUS’ partners, that says it best:

If you’d like to know more about ethanol and boats, see the BoatUS Magazine feature, “E15: A Good Law, For Yesterday,” at

  Read Full Story

Make a Line Recycling Bin

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, MD – It’s hard thinking about fishing when most of country is still frozen solid. However, anglers anticipating the spring bite can make a difference with improving fish habitat this upcoming season by building a fishing line recycling bin with some help from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. All of the instructions to build a line recycling bin from affordable and easy-to-work-with plastic PVC pipe are explained in a short video at

The line recycling bins are suitable for any location where anglers gather, such as ramps, piers, marinas, docks and popular fishing areas. Bin builders can also get free stickers to affix to the outside that identify and give instructions on how to use the bin, as well as bilingual “no trash” stickers, simply by sending an email to

“Once the weather warms up, you’ll be ready to install the bin and can arrange for clean-outs with help from fishing buddies, clubs, marinas or local agencies,” said BoatUS Foundation Vice President Susan Shingledecker.

As the bin fills up, discarded fishing line can often be dropped off at municipal recycling stations, or it can be mailed to the Berkley Conservation Institute where it will be used to make “Fish Habs” - artificial, underwater habitat structures that attract fish. Discarded line shipping instructions can be found at

  Read Full Story

Get 7 Things Done Now for Great Boating Season

Friday, February 21, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Boaters can get frustrated when a repair or upgrade takes a long time, but delays are often a simple result of supply and demand. “Spring and summer can be the most challenging times to get work done on a boat because everyone else wants their work at the same time,” said BoatUS Director of Consumer Affairs Charles Fort. But with a little foresight boaters can get the services they need — sometimes at a better price — now. And some things on a winter “to do” list don’t require outside help. Here are some common projects boaters should be looking at doing now, before the spring rush: 

Engine and Prop: Getting your boat’s motor worked on in June is like waiting to buy Billy Joel tickets at the door. Get your mechanic on it now if you have a project in mind. It’s also the time to have the dings taken out of the prop – your prop shop guy will be glad to see you.

Canvas and Sails: Canvas and sail lofts are notoriously cyclical businesses so don’t feel guilty about asking for a discount on winter work. Now is the time to get the new bimini top made, repair the camper canvas, or get the sail stitched up.

Wiring: Every boater needs an extra 12V outlet at the helm, or knows of a corroded wire or two somewhere on the boat that needs fixing. If you want to take on this project yourself, here are some tips on wiring:

Paint and varnish: Generally you need warm weather for these projects – but consider taking home hatch boards, tiller handles or wood trim projects and working on them now in well ventilated basement or heated garage.

Line splicing: Maybe it’s an extra long spring line you’ve always wanted, or dock lines that will actually fit your boat’s cleats. Curl up by fire, sing a sea chantey, and start splicing because you will never want to do this in the summer. Here’s how to do it:

Chart and Electronics updates: Does your chartplotter use an old chip or are you using the same paper chart you had 10 years ago? Your helm electronics software may also have downloadable updates that make them perform better.

Do a winter tacklebox overhaul: You’re never going to want to do this once the fish start biting. BoatUS Angler pro Steve Chaconas shows how to get your tacklebox into shape at:

  Read Full Story

Should You Get Extended Warranty for Boat?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 4, 2014 -- It’s acknowledged among boat owners that boat engines have improved in quality and reliability over the years, and backing that up are recent surveys from J.D. Power reporting a steady decrease in the number of reported problems in marine engines. So is buying an extended service contract – also known as “extended warranties” – worth the money today? The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Consumer Affairs looked at the issue and has these tips:

An extended “warranty” really isn’t a warranty: An extended warranty (service contract) is not a warranty at all but rather an insurance policy that pays for repairs if the breakdown, failure, or failed component is specified as covered by the policy. On the other hand, a new boat warranty covers much more, is included in the cost of the boat, and offers legal protections to the boat buyer.

Not everything is covered: An engine extended service contract covers specific items only. One BoatUS member found this out the hard way when his third-party extended service contract left him $1300 short after paying out of pocket for an engine control unit (ECU) replacement job on his 30-foot powerboat. The ECU was deemed consequential damage – and not covered – as a result of the original problem, an overcharging alternator.

The real cost of repairs could be higher: Extended service contracts typically come with deductibles, some don’t cover engine removal, and they often limit haul out coverage or, in the case of manufacturer-backed programs, will only pay if you purchased higher levels of coverage. Check the contract’s details on how the company handles deductibles and consequential damage.

Kill the overlap: If you decide to buy an extended service contract, find one that begins after the manufacturer’s warranty expires and never be pressured into buying one the same day you buy the boat. You’ve usually got up to at least nine months to make a decision. It should also be transferable, which adds to the boat’s value.

Manufacturer benefits: Consumers often get a better deal on engine service contracts that bear the name of the manufacturer because the dealer’s markup is limited. And while these service contracts take their name from the engine’s manufacturer, independent companies could underwrite them. However, you still are likely to get a better deal regardless because “manufacturer” programs often have substantially better coverage and more flexibility. Don’t forget prices are negotiable, and some engine manufacturers sell contracts direct, bypassing dealers.

Approval needed: While it is an extra step, extended service contracts require preauthorization before work begins. However, avoid those that will require work to be done only at a network of “approved” shops, or require you to use the selling dealer.

The gamble: Most defects in new boats and engines appear within the standard warranty period, so you may not get a return on the money you paid for an extended service contract.

How many problems will I have?: Some engine models that have higher than average rate of problems may benefit from an extended service contract. BoatUS members can use the BoatUS Consumer Protection Database that contains thousands of first-hand reports on boats and engines at For membership information visit or call 800-395-2628.

  Read Full Story

One More Sunny For Boating Means Special Attention to Safety

Friday, October 25, 2013

  Read Full Story

What's Will Happen to Boaters Over July 4th? BoatUS Knows...

Monday, July 02, 2012

ALEXANDRIA, VA – For recreational boaters, being on the water for the July 4th holiday is akin to driving to Grandma's house for Thanksgiving. Waterways are jammed, launch ramps are mayhem, and getting home after the fireworks end can feel like a California freeway at rush hour - except there are no breakdown lanes. The folks at Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) have seen it all before, and have these three tips on how to overcome the challenges of boating's busiest day of the year:  Read Full Story

Mark Zona on Launch Ramp Etiquette: ‘Don't Be That Guy’

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The following is an open letter from Mark Zona, host of Zona's Awesome Fishing Show:  Read Full Story

GlAngler Subscription

Recent Posts


Scott Martin AmVets Skarlis Husky Jerk Brite Wash Louie Stout Reese Electronics Wild River series Lip-Stix Bass lure John E. Phillips TRAC EZ Dock Ranger Aluminum Deep V Series Shurhold JBL boat rental Records Sunglasses Boats PRADCO Uncle Norm's Tournaments Dogwood Canyon Trail Runs Macho Minnow Whale Pumps Wind Power Angler 175T Batteries Fiberglass tiller Bethel University Gill NA Mary Snyder Catch & Cook Lund Boats spoon Dollohan WeatherStation Costa Sunglasses Rain gear Ranger VS1780 JVD Cabela's ATV Gene Larew Lake Erie Whale Alabama Rig St. Croix Grady-White Boating Games Apps On board Whistler Spoon Ditty bag Headgear Lures Ditch Smart Guide Publications Gary Dollahon Ice Fishing Brandon Newby Personal Flotation Device ShowSpan Michigan Lighting Serious Shine Marine NewsWire One-Handle-Does-It-All System toilet Foul weather gear Fishing Niagara Falls RedHead Nautical Glorvigen South Haven Blue Collar Outdoors Trout Unlimited ODNR BASSMASTER CLASSIC Bass weather Lowrance GPS Speedometer CMP Global LineSnubber Jeff's Tackle Shop Free Fishing Weekend Custom Jigs & Spins Gull Lake Marine Shelter clubs Topwater La Mar Mark Zona Plano Fuel Scott Glorvigen Legend Extreme Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plates and Kits Mark Chmura McMurdo Scholarship Sport Shows Plano Tackle Boxes great lakes Bristol Bay Salmon Army Corp of Engineers Gear Manistee binoculars Boat names Sphaera Coleman Contaminants Goby Hevi-Beads Fishouflage Audio 360 YUMphibian Tackle Bag Clam Frabill Ethanol Bass Pro BOLT Padlock 580P lenses Boat Covers Rippin Lips Mag Light Sunstream Boat Lifts Tools redfish bimini top CUSTOM JIGS 'N' SPINS iPilot Link Magnum Flow-Troll EVOLVE FISHING CO sunglass Beckson Marine Interlux Plano Synergy EZ Splice Fasteners tackle storage Yamaha ATV Bad Elf Beckson Marine Deck Plate YUM River Fishing Extended Warranty YUM Dinger RAT FINKEE Dogs Honda Bristol Bay Gravity Launch ramp Storage Prosepec Electronics Hunting Minnesota Davis Instruments Walleye tournament Promise Keeper Alaskan Beckson Conservation Marathon Tight Lines Jewelry Innovative Outdoors Boating safety Home Port Marine Marketing Ultimate Flannel Shirts PLB Insect repellent Humminbird Micro-Mobile Pro Viewing Case University of Buffalo Pharmaceuticals Venice, Louisiana Homeport Marine Marketing ABT X-2 Countdown Iaconelli Power Angler Shipping Mosquito repellent 1675 Pro Guide Hamlin Great Lakes Troller fitness Volvo Penta F-Series Storm Gear Lights Fish Hawk XD4 Brad's Practical Sailor New York Indiana DNR Mr. Twister Boat lifts Northland Kayaks Kindle book USCG U.S.S.A. Ultracoat Autotether Kill switch Dave Genz spreader light KVD Speedbag Wormfile Rescue Marine Lighting Berkley Lakemaster BoatUS Angler Green Bay Port of Indiana Bob Schmidt AKOYA Clay Dyer Personal Flotation Devices Shoremaster Dave Mull Blog Stabenow Black Earth Creek Line Recycle Bin Smart Guide to Freshwater Fishing Streams Coast Guard Shoes Northwest Indiana Steelheaders eZSplice Monel Metal Larson Electronics Orca Fin System Team Aqua-Vu Wisconsin Okuma exotic species Water Buddies Asian carp Quantum Knives Mazurek Princecraft Grand Rapids Ultimate Outdoors Show cruzin Mercury Marine Knife sharpening Baitcast Fishing Pole BBQ Lighter Slide Moor Hobie Pro Angler Grunden's Seakeeper gyro Brown trout Slender Spoon Olcott, NY Bug bite relief Air show Greater Niagara Fishing & Outdoor Expo Deep Sea Diver mudsnail Oakley Sunglasses Evinrude Traditions Media Rapala Frigibar Corey Schmidt Tim Popfinger iPilot Swanson-Russell Multi-species Kurt Mazurek Kayak Pop-Up LED Bowlights B.A.S.S. Lake Michigan Youth ice fishing, Bro Show, Traditions Media Patrick Hurst Yamaha blue marlin Todd Sokolow ChartSelect Catfish Michigan City, Indiana Side Thruster FLW Fiberglass boat Fish America Foundation Church Tackle IGFA Endura Acme PulseTech Ranger Boats News Line InvisaSnap LOTSA Ryan Wilson Jack Links Alaska Marine Speakers High school bass fishing WFN Steve Wood Tyee South Haven, Michigan Contest Silver Horde HELLA Green Bay, Wisconsin Lead Dave Mull Tides Black Velvet Aqua Vu Hobie Multitools Rig'N Tails Marcum Bro Brosdahl Chatterbait DSC Traxstech Rugged Shark LineGrabber Spencer Yachts Ravenswood Media SOG Ryan Kleckner WileyX Ice Features Walleyes Bass fishing Owners tournament tree stand injury Oshkosh Synergy Outdoors Wildlife Forever LCWCC USSA SeaLife Cameras Walleye Size limits Earth Day Strike King Costa Pro Polish Fishing Clubs Bait Holder Accon Marine NAIFC Championship Forage Minnow Accessories Insurance Gunnison, CO Salmon Unlimited of Illinois Sheldon's Bait head News/Social Dollahon Snow-Shoe Tip-Up Cannon Bheestie Bag Faria ABT Cliff Pace inReach Video Reef Runner Soul5 Tackle Labs Mystery Tackle Box Crankbait Net Tommy Skarlis ASA exotic invader The Harry Lure Glacier Glove Rubrail iPad Andrew Semprevivo Deck Plate Aqua-Vu Dan Egan Future Fisherman Foundation PFDs Bug repellent Moisture Muncher Soft Jigwobbler Downriggers Tom Neustrom Big Bear Products St. Croix Rods Sharpeners Wake Fishing Speakers Chaco USO BASSMASTER Jonathon VanDam Marsh Madness Triton Boats Brian "Bro" Brosdahl DuraSafe Electronics Lock TRAC Ecological Wounded Warriors LakeMaster Western States Version Bass Pro Shops Bibs jigs Ascend Dunkirk, NY Lake Assault Milennia MIL-iDock Titan Chain Aluminum Deep V Series MULL BLOG Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Chicago barrier Sportsman's rights Rippin' Lips Rough Weather treestand injury MUSHING Lake Ontario Safety Lake Huron Full Throttle Smartfind S20 Personal AIS Beacon Wedding Ring SeaEra QC Boat maintenance Tournament Grade Circle Hooks Spreads Brian Brosdahl Raritan Side Imaging Mike Seymour FRIDAY FUNNIES Rushton Gregory Fort Wayne, Indiana Vick Global Spectrum Footwear Turning Point Props Swedish FireKnife ONIX Andrew Dordek Ned Rig Soo Locks Jerky EZ BoatPort Absolute Outdoor, Inc. Lund Evolve BoatUS GPS for Lightning Connector Kevin Van Dam Marine Radio Lake trout Salmon Beckson Marine Stowaway Bag Plate STRATTEC Tracker Marine Matt Serbenski Rods MATE USA Aqualuma Shock Wave iPhone Traditions dock lines Bass Pro Shops Gift Card Rovermax LR 100 New Lures DuraSafe Optima VMC spinning rod Tournament Barry Brown Marine Rain suit Camera mount Matt Straw Chargers Masters Walleye Circuit National Guard Airmar Torpedo Divers Onyx NMEA Tip-Up New Zealand Izaak Walton League Safe boating Minn Kota Weather Buoy OHIO The Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls Extreme Baitcast Reel Coleman cooler Marine General Lake of the Woods Normark hardbaits Thermacell Swim bait Legend Gold Betsy Odd'ball Fin Spin Buff Mack's Lure Sun protection Lock KVD Bait Rigs Oculus Martin-Flory Holland Bass Pro Shops Four-Person Dome Tent with Screen Porch Lake Superior CLASSIC Telescoping JIggler Long Rod Skamania Mania Blue Heron Communications KVD Speedbag Aquatic AV Muscle Squared 65 Boga Delorme Kevin VanDam Muskie Lure Swim Whizz Mack's Lures Flat Slider 75 Up Stream Hydration Back Pack Z-Man Gary Giudice Trade Shows MWC USCGA Navigation Radio Mustad Michigan DNR Jeff Gustafson Ranger marlin Conservation Jeff Wenzel splice Radial Chronglobal Costa Del Mar Boat US Keep Kool Technology Invasive species Balog