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

Recent Posts


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