Tuesday, October 09, 2007

United States Power Squadrons and US SAILING Sign Memo of Understanding to Share Educational Resources

For Immediate Release

Contacts: United States Power Squadrons

Bob Sweet – 508-495-4300

aneo@usps.org

Move Will Help More Boaters Gain Access to Boating Education, Safety Training

September 10, 2007 — United States Power Squadrons (USPS) and US SAILING have signed a memorandum of understanding that outlines how the two organizations can share educational resources, including instructional programs and course materials. The move allows each organization—each of which is a leader in the field of recreational boating education—to tap into the other organization's particular expertise; this type of collaboration is highly encouraged by the United States Coast Guard, in the hope of ensuring a higher level of competency and safety amongst boaters in the United States.

USPS will complement its classroom instruction with US SAILING courses in on-the-water powerboat skill instruction and demonstration. US SAILING will now be able to incorporate the extensive advanced navigational course materials developed by USPS into its training programs.

"This is a great partnership that will extend the reach of both organizations,” said Rich Jepsen, CEO of OCSC Sailing (Berkeley, Calif.) who chairs US SAILING's Training Committee. "Each organization has outreach to different audiences in the boating world, and sharing our resources will give more boaters access to the training and knowledge they need to make going out on the water more enjoyable—and ultimately more safe."

According to USPS National Educational Officer Dick Kyle, “We are looking to enrich our programs with US SAILING’s strong experience with on-the-water training. This expertise complements our classroom courses for our new Boat Operator Certification Program and advanced sail endorsements included in our USPS University."

The USPS Boat Operator Certification program has been created to recognize the skill level of boaters and recognize their knowledge in much the same way as the Coast Guard license indicates professional expertise. Until now, there was little most recreational boaters could do to gain such recognition. To achieve each of the four levels (Inland, Coastal, Advanced Coastal, and Offshore) the boater must complete a set of USPS courses, attend a series of seminars, and demonstrate skills, some on-the-water. It is basic on-the-water skills that USPS has looked to the US Sailing program for its inland certification.

One of the key US SAILING courses USPS will offer to its members is the Safe Powerboat Handling Course. This two-day, hands-on, on-the-water course was originally developed to serve US SAILING constituents who used powerboats but lacked formal training in handling these types of craft. The original target audience for this program included sailing instructors, coaches, and race committee personnel who needed a high level of proficiency in powerboat handling in order to perform their jobs on the water. The course has since become known as valuable training for any individual who wants to learn how to safely operate a powerboat. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) has approved the course, and an increasing number of U.S. states are recognizing that the program meets their boating safety education requirements.

For more than 20 years on-the-water powerboat training has been a part of the US SAILING's educational offerings, initially incorporated into courses used to train sailing instructors and later developed into separate powerboat-handling courses. The courses are administered by US Powerboating, a department under US SAILING’s Education Division and organized to directly address the educational needs of power boat owners and operators in the US.

The Power Squadrons' advanced navigational materials are the key USPS resources US SAILING will now be able to incorporate into its renowned Keelboat Certification Series, which provides high standards of competency for sailors, sailing instructors, and sailing schools to improve safety and enjoyment for thousands of sailors every year. Qualified sailing schools and instructors teach sailors of all experience levels proper boat handling and seamanship skills, as well as the proper theory that is a crucial part of a sailor’s education. Making USPS navigation training materials available to US SAILING Keelboat Certification schools will improve its already robust line-up of navigation training.

United States Power Squadrons is known worldwide for its quality navigation programs from inland and coastal to offshore using both electronics and celestial tools. USPS has even trained navigators for the Navy during times of war. USPS has become a leader working with industry to understand and influence emerging navigation technologies thus assuring training in the latest techniques, equipment, and software.

US SAILING offers sailing and powerboat courses through participating clubs, schools, and community programs. These courses highlight on-the-water training for students and instructor candidates, starting at the entry level and progressing into racing, cruising, and offshore passagemaking. US SAILING's Certification Series has established the definitive national standards for sailing and on-the-water powerboat instruction in keelboats, small sailboats, and sport and cruising powerboats.

USPS University Boat Operator Certification programs tap into their navigation courses as well as classroom and hands-on work in seamanship, boat handling, weather, marine electrical and electronics, engine and marine mechanical systems maintenance, cruise planning and a wide range of seminars on shipboard gear selection and use. The USPS Seminars are generally available to the public across the country, often conveniently offered in marine stores, yacht clubs, and marinas. Programs are offered through the USPS network of 450 squadrons located virtually everywhere you find boaters. USPS also offers National Association of State Boating Law Administrators approved public boating safety programs in the classroom and on-line. These courses have been a mainstay of USPS support to boaters since 1914.

About US SAILING

The United States Sailing Association (US SAILING) is the national governing body for sailing. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, the organization provides leadership for the sport of sailing in the United States. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Teams. For more information, please visit http://www.ussailing.org/.

About the United States Power Squadrons

USPS, in its nearly 100-year history, has been the premier recreational boating education organization offering basic boating and a strong program of navigation that has even been used to train navy navigators in time of war. Today, USPS offers the broadest range of boating courses and seminars available for recreational boaters of all types, and provides a rallying point for those interested in boats to meet, learn, and provide services to fellow boaters. USPS also participates in a co-operative charting program with NOAA helping to update navigation charts, and provides complementary vessel safety inspections in cooperation with the Coast Guard. For more information, please visit http://www.usps.org/.

-ends-

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

BOATERS, WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Fellow Members -

Sam Insalaco and District 7 have undertaken their own excellent grassroots response to the Water Ballast issue in asking that recreational boats be exempted from this onerous EPA requirement. Since I couldn't have said it better myself, I'm forwarding this to you for your immediate action.


Be sure to respond to your legislators as an individual, concerned boater, NOT as a representative of USPS. Take action quickly and also forward this to all recreational boaters you know.

R/C Bill Husted, SN

Chairman
National Government Partner Relations Committee



As you recall, last year a U.S. District Court ruling nullified EPA regulation 40 under the Clean Water Act exempting effluent discharge incidental to the normal operation of vessels. The ruling is the result of a lawsuit to halt the introduction of invasive species from ballast water from commercial ships. Unfortunately the ruling did not differentiate between vessels and includes storm water (rain), gray water, and bilge water discharge from recreational boats as well. Under the court order, the EPA must establish new regulations and a permit process to enable the normal discharge from recreational boats by September 2008. The permit process and enforcement would be worked out between the EPA and the states. This is a significant problem for both manufacturers and the public. There are 13 million registered boats in the US and 74million boaters, contributing to a $37 billion a year industry. For more information and the latest news go to http://www.boatblue.org/.


To fight this ruling and its results, the National Boating Foundation (NBF) joined with National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) in the BoatBlue Coalition. The Coalition has informed Congress of the problem and the harm it would do to the marine industry and the boating public. As a result, H.R. 2550, the Recreational Boating Act of 2007, was introduced in the House in May and has 37 cosponsors. An identical companion bill, S. 2067, has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Mel Martinez of Florida and to date there are six cosponsors http://martinez.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.View&ContentRecord_id=6310&CFID=17869415&CFTOKEN=20048205.

These bills, if passed, will codify the exemption for recreational boats that has existed under the Clean Water Act for many years. The timing is critical as the bills are actively being reviewed and assessed in both Houses.
While USPS and other groups are actively supporting this effort organizationally, their support is viewed as “industry lobbying” by many legislators and as such has a diminished impact. Recent discussions with NMMA and the Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) strongly recommended that a public ground swell of individual boaters directly contacting their elected representatives is needed to ensure their passage.

Please write your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives to ask them to pass H.R. 2550 in the House and S. 2067 in the Senate to preserve the exemption for recreational boaters from the Clean Water Act NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit rules.

Letters may be sent by US mail. Fax, or electronically through your elected representatives’ web sites. Also consider calling their offices and asking for their support directly. You can find our officials at this link http://www.boatblue.org/takeaction.aspx. A sample letter is given below for your use.

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SAMPLE LETTER TO FAX OR E-MAIL:

Dear (Senator or Representative):

As a recreational boater, I wish to bring to your attention a matter of serious concern. A recent court decision has made it very likely that every recreational boat owner in the nation will be required to obtain a permit in order to operate their boat. There are nearly 18 million recreational boats in operation and about 72 million boaters nationwide.

Not only do boaters support a $37 billion a year boating industry, they contribute significantly to other outdoor recreational opportunities such as angling and hunting, both of which are multi-billion dollar industries that are of considerable cultural significance in America.

Recently, a federal judge invalidated a long-standing regulation exempting the normal discharges of recreational boats from the Clean Water Act. Although unintended, the consequence of the decision is that every registered recreational boat owner in the country could be subjected to sweeping new regulations and permit requirements for normal discharges, which includes bilge water, deck runoff, engine cooling water, and others.

We urge you to enact H.R. 2550 or S. 2067 (indicate 2550 or 2067 depending on whether you are writing to a Representative or Senator). The Recreational Boating Act of 2007 that will codify the legal exemption for recreational boats that has existed in law for 34 years. Otherwise, boaters could face new yearly fees and bureaucratic red tape associated with getting a permit, both of which will drive down participation in boating and outdoor recreation, reduce tax revenues for environmental conservation initiatives nationwide, and cause considerable economic harm to the local communities that rely on boating and outdoor recreation. Federal and state governments would be required to develop new programs to implement these regulations, which would be very costly to taxpayers and deplete scarce agency resources.

The exemption for recreational boats was enacted 34 years ago for good reason—these regulations in the Clean Water Act are meant for supertankers and cruise ships—not your weekend boater on our country's waterways.

We urge you to act quickly on this legislative remedy which will make the exemption for recreational boats in the Clean Water Act permanent.

Sincerely,
John Q. Boater
Address
City, State, Zip