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Message From C/C Frank Dvorak, SN

posted May 19, 2011, 12:02 PM by Bob Mueller
Dear Fellow Members,

This month’s Chief Commander’s letter coincides with the National Safe Boating Week, so I want to update you on the official position of the USPS regarding wearing lifejackets and the federally mandated education. It is interesting to note that in 2004 at a Governing Board meeting, a motion was made and passed:

“Be it resolved that based on current United States Coast Guard accident and fatality statistics, United States Power Squadrons supports USCG efforts to significantly increase PFD (lifejacket) wear by all boaters, especially those in small, open boats.”

The USCG originally wanted mandatory life jacket wear in open boats 26 feet and under, but the National Boating Safety Advisory Committee (advisors to the Coast Guard) felt that it would be easier to achieve mandatory life jacket wear in open boats under 18 feet, while still maintaining over 80% of the risk coverage.

This is why at your spring conferences the question was asked - - “would you support such a mandate” - - and your answer was yes. With 29 Districts responding, a total of 1718 votes were cast with 1292 (75.20%) supporting the mandatory wearing of lifejackets in open boats under 18 feet. The official USPS Life Jacket Position Paper can be downloaded here.

The issue of federally mandated education was less controversial and out of 1650 votes cast, you the membership cast 1439 “yes” votes for an 87.21% approval. The educational standard as set forth by NASBLA is a bare minimum requirement and the USCG would like to see a higher standard. As part of their strategic plan, they would also like to see advanced training such as what we currently offer to the public.

We have decided to lobby for these positions and that raises an issue some of our membership have with lobbying and our 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization. According to the rules, we can lobby on any public policy issue, of which mandatory lifejacket wear is one. Second, as an educational organization we are unlimited in our ability to lobby on educational issues. Thus, we are in excellent position to actively engage in lobbying for these two issues.

Safe Boating Week is nearly upon us, and this gives me the opportunity to encourage you to take part in this activity. We would like to hear from Squadron Commanders about activities your squadron will participate in - - take photos and we will post the events and photos in the USPS National Group on SailAngle.

Please have a fun-filled safe boating season.

Warmest personal regards,
Frank A. Dvorak, SN
Chief Commander