Sail Fast!

Ten Tips for Clean and Green Boating

Posted by Discover Boating on Mon, Mar 06, 2017 @ 09:39 PM


  1. Prevent oily discharges from the bilge. Keep your engine well tuned to prevent fuel and oil leaks. Secure an oil absorbent pad or pillow in your bilge and under your engine where drips may occur. Check the pads often, do not let them clog the bilge pump, and dispose of them as hazardous waste at a marina or local hazardous waste collection center.
  2. Spill-proof your oil changes. For oil changes, use an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill-proof container. Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to prevent oil from spilling into the bilge.
  3. When fueling, stop the drops! Prevent fuel spills by filling fuel tanks slowly and using absorbent pads or rags to catch drips and spills. Don’t "top off" or overflow your fuel tank. Leave the tank 10% empty to allow fuel to expand as it warms.
  4. Do not add soap. Never use soap to disperse fuel and oil spills. It increases harm to the environment, and it is illegal.
  5. Minimize boat cleaning and maintenance in the water. If possible, save maintenance projects for the boatyard. When performing work on the water minimize your impact by containing waste. Use tarps and vacuum sanders to collect all drips and debris for proper disposal.
  6. Reduce toxic discharges from bottom paints. Minimize the discharge of heavy metals found in soft-sloughing antifouling paints by using a less toxic, or nontoxic antifouling paint. Use only non-abrasive underwater hull cleaning techniques to prevent excessive paint discharge. Remember, dry storage reduces the need for antifouling paints and saves money.
  7. Dispose of hazardous waste properly. Dispose of paints, batteries, antifreeze, cleaning products, oil, oil filters and other hazardous wastes at a hazardous waste collection facility or event.
  8. Plan A-head! Manage sewage wastes properly. Never discharge sewage within 3 miles of shore. Use harbor pump-out stations and shore-side facilities. If you don’t have an installed toilet, use a port-a-potty and empty it at a harbor dump station or bathroom.
  9. Stow it, don’t throw it! Keep your trash on board. Never throw cigarette butts, fishing line, or any other garbage into the ocean. Take advantage of shore-side facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal, and paper.
  10. Reduce Greywater discharges. Use a phosphate-free biodegradable soap to minimize the impacts of greywater on the marine environment. Also minimize discharge by doing dishes and showers on shore whenever possible.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River, Clean Marina, Boat US, adult sailing lessons, Boating in DC

Become “Boat Smart”

Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Mar 06, 2015 @ 09:40 PM


education and training

Learning the basics of boat operation and safety is best done before your first trip to the marina or launch ramp. In fact, a number of states require powerboat operators to take a boating education course and carry a license or certificate proving successful course completion any time they're underway.

Resources for You!

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary was established by Congress in 1939, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is Semper Paratus(Always Ready).

US Power Squadron was organized in 1914, USPS is a non profit, educational organization dedicated to making boating safer and more enjoyable by teaching classes in seamanship, navigation and related subjects.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has worked to provide quality service, savings, and representation to the boating community since 1966. The BoatUS Foundation is the only FREE online safety course developed specifically for individual states.

Safely Moored is a professional, hands-on boating instruction, safety training, yacht management, dockside services & Yacht Sales in South Florida.

US POWERBOATING™ is the nation's leading, on-the-water organization, offering courses for powerboat operators and is an affiliate of US SAILING, the national governing body for the sport of sailing.

The Recreational Powerboating Association™ (RPBA™) is the leading authority for hands-on powerboat instruction, powerboat certification & powerboat schools in the United States.

The American Sailing Association (ASA) is the oldest and largest keelboat certification authority in the United States, with 300 affiliated sailing schools worldwide.

The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States.

The US Sailing Keelboat Certification System is a cooperative effort among sailing schools, charter companies, the sailing industry, and US Sailing volunteers and staff.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River sailing, boating safety, Alexandria Virginia, Boat US, Mariner Sailing School, sailing lessons for children, Sailing Instructors

Peer-to-Peer Boat Rentals: What Do You Need To Know?

Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 03:50 PM


10 Tips From BoatUS for Owners and Renters

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 24, 2015 – Airbnb may a popular “peer-to-peer” lodging site on the web, but if you want to rent a boat in your local area or away, you’ve got options, too., and are just a few of the new crop of online websites offering a chance to rent a boat for the day or weekend. These services, which connect private boat owners to renters, can help owners recoup some expenses, and can also give non-owners a chance to get on the water with friends without the cost of full-time ownership. So what do you need to know? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some information for both boat owners and renters.

  1. Renters do not want boats that are not safe and or can barely get out of the marina, so these services are often better suited to newer vessels less than 10 years old. Older, larger or faster boats may require a survey or inspection. Rental costs vary widely based on boat size and location, and renters typically are required to have some boating experience as well as a deposit.
  2. These peer-to-peer boat rental websites generally handle every part of the transaction, including taking deposits and payments. They typically take 30%-40% of the rental fee, which covers overhead, profit, as well as insurance and on water towing services (more on both of those in a second…read on).
  3. For boat owners, most boat insurance policies don’t provide coverage during the rental period and some companies may not provide coverage at any time simply if you list your boat with a rental program. If you happen to own and insure your boat but desire to rent another, your insurance company (including BoatUS Marine Insurance) may offer a temporary endorsement for liability coverage while operating the rental boat – but damage to the rental boat still is not covered. That’s why these “peer-to-peer” boat rental companies often provide additional insurance coverage. However, it’s up to owners – and renters – to read the fine print. For owners, know what happens if your boat is damaged, the claims process, how depreciation may figure in, and, in the event of total loss, how the insurance will value your boat. For renters, ensure you are OK with the level of liability coverage being offered during the rental, know how much you would have to pay if you damage the boat, and whether injuries to both you and your passengers would be covered.
  4. TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist towing fleets provide on water towing and assistance service to some peer-to-peer rental services at no additional charge to the renter or owner. For the renter that means simply calling BoatUS’ 24-hour nationwide dispatch (800-391-4869) if there is a breakdown.
  5. Renters need to ask about any other costs or fees, including fuel or other charges like pump-outs. They should also clarify with the owner what happens if the boat breaks down and becomes unusable.
  6. Boat owners have the full right to say “no” to a renter, starting with an initial phone call. BoatUS member Bob Kellet, who has successfully rented his 30-foot sailboat, says owners are in full control of the process, from pricing to vetting renters. After speaking to a potential renter on the phone, if he’s comfortable, Kellet will meet at his boat for a full run-through. He may even take the renter out for a few minutes to show how everything works.
  7. Kellet also suggests having a detailed instruction guide for the boat’s equipment and a step-by-step guide for things like starting the engine. Be sure to include safety gear.
  8. Having a walk-through, pre-rental checklist is good for both parties, as is taking a few date-stamped photos showing the condition of the vessel.
  9. While there is a certain element of trust, owner and renter reviews tend to weed out bad apples quickly, so be sure to check the renter’s history or the owner’s reviews from past renters. “Reviews are the best indicator of whether there will be a positive rental experience,” says BoatUS Consumer Affairs Director Charles Fort, who adds, “These services may also help those looking to buy a certain boat to try it out, if you will, before they purchase.”
  10. One man’s experience: BoatUS Member Kellet said he was apprehensive the first few times he rented his sailboat to a stranger, but after a couple rentals he realized the renters cared about his boat, too, and they were there for the same reason: a love of the water and boating. A couple rentals a month easily pays his Seattle, Washington, area moorage fees. The only downside Kellet reports are scheduling conflicts when he’d like to use the boat himself.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, boating, boating, Potomac River, boating safety, Boat US, Mariner Sailing School, Safety

For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety - NEWS From BoatUS

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Oct 06, 2014 @ 02:01 PM

For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety

ANNAPOLIS, Va., October 6, 2014 – It may be sunny outside with blue skies above, but waters are deceptively cold and unforgiving in the fall. For paddlers with just a few inches of freeboard to spare, getting wet this time of year can have serious consequences, so the BoatUS Foundation forBoating Safety and Clean Water has these seven tips for fall paddlecraft safety.Kayaking

Know how to re-board: All paddlecraft are different, so before you hit a lonely, remote stretch of river or bay, learn (in a safe place) how to get back in the boat quickly and efficiently as hyperthermia is a threat that increases by the minute. Some paddlers add extra floatation inside the boat as it can help reboarding. (Tip: this can be accomplished simply by inflating a beach ball or purchasing aftermarket float bags). If you do ever fall out and can’t get back in, stay with the kayak or canoe – it’s a bigger target for rescuers to see.

Don’t keep it a secret: Tell people where you’re going by filing a float plan. It could be as simple as telling your spouse, in writing, where you are going and what time you plan to return. Writing it down makes it become habit. Be as specific as you can – this isn’t the time to forget to mention you’re heading to your hidden fishing hole two miles off the beaten channel.

Understand the basic rules of navigation: You may not be out there with icebreakers just yet, but there may still be some recreational boating traffic and potential ship traffic. The simple challenge is the smallest boats are hardest to see. One simple tip to help visibility is to spray the tips of your paddles a bright color. Paddlers also can help themselves by understanding some basic rules of navigation.

Don’t leave without a bailer: With low freeboard -- or the distance from the water to the gunwale -- paddlecraft are prone to getting water aboard. Once it starts, it’s only a matter of time before your canoe or kayak becomes ever lower to oncoming waves. Keep water out and buoyancy up by having a bailer ready (Tip: tie one to each seat).

Thermal up or down: Neoprene gloves, a drysuit or wetsuit tops and hats are the ultimate protection in retaining body heat this time of year. However, have outdoor gear that offers versatility by being able to cool down or warm up when appropriate. Even if it may feel like summer, never leave shore in just a t-shirt and shorts. It only takes just a short change of weather or a dunking to drench you and the hypothermia clock starts ticking. A bright colored rain parka can also be seen at great distances.

Going remote? Go Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Advances in GPS technology have brought down the cost of personal locator beacons, but if your budget is tight you can still rent a PLB from the BoatUS Foundation for $45 weekly, plus shipping. There are no additional subscriber fees and paddlers going to remote locations can order online at or call 888-663-7472 (Tip: mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on the weekly PLB rental rate through December 1, 2014).

Keep it secure up top: If you need to get your favorite kayak or stand-up paddleboard to the lake on your car or truck’s roof this fall, go for a quick read on the three basic types of roof rack systems and ways to safely tie down the load. Your kayak has no desire to meet the road or become a hazard for oncoming vehicles.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, currents and tides, Potomac River, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety, Cold Water, Boat US, adult sailing lessons

Dyke Marsh Wetland Restoration, Comments of BoatU.S

Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 @ 04:45 PM

Comments of BoatU.S. regarding EIS No. 20140006
Draft EIS, NPS, VA,
Dyke Marsh Wetland Restoration and
Long-term Management Plan

March 14, 2014

BoatU.S. is the largest organization of recreational boat owners in the
United States, with more than 500,000 members nationwide and over 51,000
members in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. On behalf of our
members we would like to register our concerns with the implementation of the
Dyke Marsh Restoration and Long Term Management Plan and in particular
language contained in Alternative C, the alternative preferred by the National
Park Service (NPS).

Dyke Marsh and Belle Haven Marina are both a popular boating
destination and a critical launching and mooring field for boaters in the
Washington area. The two destinations are from a geographical sense, bound to
each other. The marina provides a boat ramp, slips, sailboat rental, paddle craft
rental and launch, and a sailing school. Area residents launch boats and paddle
craft to fish, bird-watch and enjoy the wildlife fostered by Dyke Marsh. The
marina serves education programs such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s
Potomac River Program which teaches conservation and preservation.

It is our strong belief that the vitality of both Dyke Marsh and Belle Haven
Marina rely on a balanced management plan that fosters the sustainability of the
marsh and the economic viability of the marina. Currently language contained in
Alternative C could very easily inhibit or possibly end the prosperity of the
marina. We propose that the following language be removed from Alternative C:

“This alternative contains an optional 20-acre restoration cell in the area
currently serving as mooring for the marina. Such an option would only be
implemented should the marina concession no longer be economically
viable for the current concessioner, and no other concessioner expresses
interest in taking over the business, eliminating the need for the mooring

Since the NPS is not only the leaseholder to the concessionaire (in this
case Belle Haven Marina) but also sets the lease requirements, insurance
minimums, and defines what is or is not “economic viability,” we believe that the
concessionaire could be denied renewal of the lease at any time. Just over the
last 3 years, the insurance required by NPS has increased from $1,000,000 to 
$5,000,000. Even in the face of such drastic increases, Belle Haven Marina is
and has been consistently at 100% slip occupancy with over 400 families on the
waiting list for slips. This is important testimony towards the need to maintain the
20 acres of current mooring field. The marina and sailing school also contribute
heavily to the local economy by providing 45-50 jobs.

Should this marina be closed there would be no public boat launch for
over 20 miles of the Potomac River even though the nation’s taxpayers, through
the National Park System, pay for a good stretch of maintaining that river shore.
Placing the access this marina provides to the urban and suburban population in
such jeopardy also directly conflicts with President Obama’s America’s Great
Outdoors Initiative (AGO) to remove obstacles to park access. A key
recommendation to come out of the President’s AGO initiative is the following
(emphasis added):

Recommendation 2.1 — Support outdoor recreation access and
opportunities on public lands by establishing a Federal Interagency
Committee on Outdoor Recreation

It is important to recognize the importance of maintaining the connection
to the water that facilities such as Belle Haven Marina provide, particularly in an
urban area such as Washington. For disadvantaged youth, on the water
experiences are only made possible by having this kind of recreational facility
supported. All of the alternative management proposals limit access for the public
and the recreational boater, a management philosophy that directly contradicts
the intent of the AGO initiative.

President Obama followed through on the AGO recommendation on June
13, 2011, when he created the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor
Recreation headed by former Secretary Salazar. As a stakeholder organization
that is actively engaged in the AGO process, we note several tasks charged to
the new Council that are of particular significance in our review of the Dyke
Marsh Restoration Plan:

Task: Coordinate recreation management, access and policies across
multiple agencies to improve public enjoyment and recreational use of
federal lands.

Task: Improve engagement of young people and their families in outdoor
recreation through healthy, active lifestyles.

Task: Identify ways to improve access to and benefits from our parks,
refuges, and other public lands, waters, and shores for persons with

Task: Target underserved and disadvantaged communities for both
access and engagement in the benefits of and opportunities for outdoor

We urge the Park Service to revisit its plans for Dyke Marsh with an eye
towards meeting the national recommendations contained in the AGO initiative.
The aforementioned language in Alternative C, could strongly jeopardize the
attainability of these goals.

We appreciate the delicate balance the NPS must strike in fulfilling its
mission of providing access to Dyke Marsh and the Potomac River while
preserving the very elements that make these natural areas such attractive
destinations. With their close proximity to metropolitan Washington, preserving
public access to the marsh and river via support and enhancement of the Belle
Haven Marina must be a primary goal of any new management plan.

Additionally, we believe that the dredging of Belle Haven Marina and the
use of such dredge material to rebuild eroded areas of Dyke Marsh would be a
win-win strategy in moving forward and supporting both entities. Creating deeper
slips and mooring areas will help to solidify the area for generations to come,
while the use of native soils as fill to restore Dyke Marsh will cut down in
refurbishment costs.

As this process moves to the final stages, BoatU.S. strongly believes that
a resolution can be reached that both maintains public access to the water while
preserving the very outdoors experience our mem

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River, Clean Marina, Dyke Marsh, Boat US, Mariner Sailing School


Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 @ 08:56 PM

Making the decision to buy a boat comes easy for some people. Picking out a name for the boat, however, can prove to be much harder, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

“A boat name reflects the life and loves of the owner,” says Occoless Trotter of the BoatUS Boat Graphics department in Alexandria, Virginia, which helps boaters design their own boat names “But, it’s hard to sum it all up with just a few words.” The half-million-member boat owners group has been tallying the Top Ten Boat Names List for over two decades. The 22nd Annual List Top Ten Boat Names are:
1.   Seas the Day
2.   Nauti Buoy
3.   Aquaholic
4.   Dream Weaver
5.   Pegasus
6.   Serenity Now
7.   Second Wind
8.   Liquid Asset
9.   Miss Behavin'
10. Blew ByYou
“When you get a boat, there are certain things you have to do, such as registering it and buying insurance or towing coverage,” added Trotter “However, picking a boat name opens up a creative side.” This year’s list included three newcomers: Nauti BuoySerenity Now, and Blew ByYou, a popular racing sailboat moniker and clever word play on an old Roy Orbison song made famous by Linda Ronstadt. Two other boat names made the list for the second time: Dream Weaver and Pegasus. All others are multi-year repeats.
Some names that did not make the top ten list but appeared more than once include Pandora, a reference to the planetoid at the center of the film Avatar, as well as boat names that invoke favorite songs – with Margaritaville and Dream Weaver resonating strongly among boat owners of all types.
To see the BoatUS Annual List of Top Ten Boat Names for the last 22 years as well as a list of over 8,000 boat names, or to try designing your own boat name graphic at no cost, go to

Tags: Boat US