Sail Fast!

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

Boater's Education requirements by state. By Kevin Curran

Posted by George Stevens on Sun, Jan 25, 2015 @ 07:39 PM
Thanks a bunch for posting. Boater education is one of those things where everyone thinks they are being safe, but most people would benefit from a refresher. Awareness of your own states' boater education requirements is a great place to start.
 The benefit to this page is that you can scroll down and find your own state quickly. I include the latest requirements from each state's boating dept. As you know, the specifics are changing every few years, so I am periodically updating with new info. Within each state's page, I also include the link to the proper state dept. in case a reader wants more info.

Tags: boating, Inflatable life jackets, boating 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

Life Jacket Type Code Labels Go Away BoatUS News

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 06:40 AM

Life Jacket Type Code Labels Go Away

Step Toward Eliminating Confusion and Introduction of New Designs

ANNAPOLIS, MD. September 30, 2014 -- In a move that’s expected to benefit recreational boaters, on Oct. 22 the US Coast Guard will drop the current life jacket type code scheme  -- Type I, II, III, IV and V -- that has been used for years to label and differentiate the types of life jackets and their specific use. Chris Edmonston, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety President and Chairman of the National Safe Boating Council, said, “The boating safety community believes this move by the Coast Guard will help lead the way toward more comfortable and innovative life jacket designs, help boaters stay on the right side of the law, lower costs, and save lives.”

Explains Edmonston, “This is positive news is that we will no longer see a Type I, II, III, IV or V label on a new life jacket label after Oct. 22. This type coding was unique to the United States, tended to confuse boaters, limited choice and increased the cost of life jackets.” He says removing the type coding is a first step towards the adoption of new standards that will eventually simplify life jacket requirements for recreational boaters.

“This move is expected to lead to the introduction of new life jacket designs, especially those made in other countries as US standards will be more ‘harmonized,’ initially Canada and eventually the European Union,” said Edmonston. “Along with a wider variety, aligning our standards with those to our neighbor to the north and across the Atlantic will help reduce prices as manufacturers won’t have to make products unique to the US market.”

However, Edmonston cautions boaters must still abide by the current standards when using older life jackets marked with the Type I-V labeling, as they will remain legal for use. “We must continue to have a properly fitted life jacket for all aboard, and as always, you’ll need to follow the label’s instructions regardless of when it was made. Simply put, if you follow the label, you’re following the law.” A full list of the current life jacket types and descriptions can be found at, and any update on new life jacket types and styles will be posted here when available.

In additional effort to help change the mindset of what a life jacket must look like, The BoatUS Foundation, the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), recently kicked off a “Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition” to seek out the newest technologies and design ideas. Running through April 15, 2015, the contest seeks entries from groups or individuals, including collegiate design programs, armchair inventors or even boat and fishing clubs. Entries may be as simple as hand-drawn theoretical designs to working prototypes and will be judged based on four criteria: wearability, reliability, cost and innovation. For more, go to

Tags: boating, Washington Sailing Marina, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety

Green Winterizing Tips from

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

Green Winterizing Tips

  • Use less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze.
  • If practical capture any antifreeze in a bucket when flushing to prevent overboard discharges.
  • When performing engine work, place an oil-only absorbent pad under the area to catch drips or small spills.
  • Use small containers of oil and other hazardous cleaners; small containers mean smaller spills.
  • Keep containers near the center of the boat to minimize the chance of an overboard spill.
  • Temporarily plug all scuppers and drains and disable your bilge pump while performing maintenance. (Be sure to turn the bilge pump back on when finished.)
  • Look for used oil and antifreeze recycling at your marina and dispose of hazardous wastes properly. Visit to learn about local waste disposal.

Tags: Potomac River, boating safety, Clean Marina, Dyke Marsh

Belle Haven Marina Schedules Celebration of Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day, June 8th, 2013 (9am – 12 pm)

Posted by George Stevens on Thu, May 30, 2013 @ 11:58 AM

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Alexandria, VA.June 8th, 2013 (9am – 12 pm).


As part of a nationwide observance, Belle Haven Marina is celebrating Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day on June 8th, 2013 from 9am till noon.

“Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day is a celebration of boating,” said Belle Haven Marina’s President, George Stevens. “As families search for fun outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy we want to encourage them to give boating a try. Existing boaters are always ready to celebrate with a day on the water, but on this day we ask them to bring a non-boater out to share the experience. We hope you will visit Belle Haven Marina, learn about your boating, and enjoy the events we have planned.”


Belle Haven Marina’s Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day activities include:


ü      Free 30 minute canoe and kayak rentals

ü      Free 45 minute sailing lessons, 4 per boat with an instructor

ü      Free 30 minute standup paddle board rentals


Participants should register by June 5th by calling the marina (703) 768-0018


"Now, more then ever, Americans need outdoor, safe, family-friendly ways to spend their leisure time. Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day introduces boating as just such an activity and reminds our existing customers and our community that Belle Haven Marina is a local, environmentally-friendly, beautiful gateway to on-the-water fun."


Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day is produced by the Association of Marina Industries, and Discover Boating. For more information, visit


Belle Haven Marina / Mariner Sailing School


Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, Potomac River sailing, boating safety, Clean Marina, Mariner Sailing School

8 Most Ignored Rules of Boating by Amanda Rodriguez

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 @ 05:13 PM

One of the most enjoyable aquatic activities just so happens to be one of the most accident prone activities. Over time, boating has evolved into a much safer recreational sport but much more work needs to be done in terms of safety awareness and education. As long as your boat captain and fellow companions behave safely and follow basic boating procedures, you can easily avoid accidents and injury. Here are some most ignored rules of boating to which every boating enthusiast should pay more attention.

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Reference capacity plate for loading

The capacity plate on your boat displays crucial information regarding the maximum weight in pounds of people and carrying load that your boat can handle safely. It also suggests a maximum horsepower that is recommended for your boat. Not many people refer to this information and oftentimes overload their boat, increasing the risk for their boat to capsize because of instability. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, capsizing and plunges overboard due to overloaded or improperly loaded boats are the most reported types of fatal accidents, accounting for more than half of all boating fatalities.

Balancing people on your boat

A main component of keeping your boat afloat is making sure you distribute the weight of all passengers and gear on your boat. To help keep the center of gravity low and thus improve stability, do not allow people to stand up or move around while the boat is underway. This is especially critical in smaller, less stable boats. You should not allow anyone to lean beyond the upper edge of the vessel’s side (gunwale.)

Starting your boat correctly

Before you start your boat, there are some safety checkpoints you should consider. One very important precaution to take is to make sure that water is being discharged from the exhaust system in the back of your boat. This indicates that the cooling system is operational and lubricating. If there is no water being supplied to the cooling system, your impeller could burn out quickly, which would seize your engine.

Avoid running aground

Despite efforts to not run your boat onto shoals, rocks, or islets, groundings do happen and are not uncommon, even among some experienced sailors. You should prepare yourself with knowledge on how to react should this occur. First, do not apply any more power to try to push your way across. Immediately put your vessel in reverse and increase power to back away from the grounding. Pay careful attention to your propellers, as this process may turn up mud or bottom vegetation and cause your propellers to overheat.

Pay attention to speed limits

When you’re out in the open water, you may not be aware of the speed limits, which are restricted in many areas. Look for speed zones marked by signs showing an orange circle around a black numeral. When passing landing floats, some state laws restrict your speed to five miles per hour. There are also other safe speed restrictions when passing a bather, a beach, swimming float, or other boats.

Boating while impaired

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued the claim that, “Alcohol is more hazardous on water than on land.” It’s no wonder that more than half of all fatal boating accidents are a result of boating while intoxicated (BWI). Imagine the combined effects of being on a boat: continual motion, sun, engine noise, and vibration from waves factored in with your altered state of mind. The chances of passengers falling overboard due to capsizing increase significantly when the driver is under the influenced. Furthermore, an intoxicated person overboard faces double danger of being unable to respond to the shock of falling into the water, and or swimming back to safety.

Proper nighttime lighting

Boats operating between sunset and sunrise or during times of limited visibility due to fog or other unpredictable weather conditions must pay careful attention to lighting configurations. It is your responsibility to make sure the lights on your boat are properly lit to adapt to any weather condition and provide for optimal visibility.

Carry required safety equipment at all times

All boats are required to carry certain equipment at all times, but these are just the bare minimum requirements. If you are engaging in any other water sports on your boat, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment associated with the sport. If you’re carrying children, check your state laws for required personal flotation devices. Also, be sure you understand how to operate safety equipment like fire extinguishers and visual distress signals.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, boating, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety, Safety

Five Inflatable Life Jacket Myths: Do You Know the Truth? (Boat US)

Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Mar 20, 2012 @ 10:58 AM

ANNAPOLIS, Md., March 20, 2012 - Inflatable Life Jackets - which automatically or manually inflate with the tug of a pull cord - have been around over 25 years, but there are still quite a few misperceptions about how these life saving devices work. The BoatUS Foundation set out to debunk some of the myths:

1. Inflatable life jackets are zero maintenance - Let's face it, pretty much nothing on a boat is zero maintenance. Before you head out for the day, simply check to ensure the CO2 cylinder is screwed firmly in and you can see the green indicator tab. Once a year, take it out and blow it up with your mouth, wait overnight, inspect for wear and check for leaks. Repacking is a task made simple - a few folds and a tuck - as instructions are found printed inside the cover flap. Most life jackets that automatically inflate when you hit the water also have small dissolvable components that periodically need replacement, but it's a simple process. A rearming "kit" comes with everything you need.

2. One size fits all - While most inflatables are sized as "universal adult," all have adjustable cinch straps that will provide a good fit for nearly every size of grown-up on the boat. Inshore-type jackets tend to be less bulky and are more compact than those jackets designed for offshore use. There are no inflatables for kids under 16, but the BoatUS Foundation is working with other national boating safety groups and the US Coast Guard to increase support for inflatable jackets that are more suitable for kids.

3. Not a lot of choices - Actually, there are. Once you get past a range of colorful designs, there are two basic styles of inflatable life jackets: over-the shoulder suspender-style and waist-fitting belt pack. All US Coast Guard-approved inflatable life jackets have a mark showing its type and how it should be used. A big advantage is that inflatables can provide nearly twice the buoyancy of similarly-rated foam life jackets, and are also are better in terms of righting a person in the water, when compared to some other traditional types.

4. Inflatable life jackets are too expensive - Inflatable life jackets start at under $100. That is a real expense for some, but consider that a cheap life jacket that no one will want to wear is as useless as a hook without the worm. Belt pack types tend to be less expensive than suspender style, while automatically-inflatable types or those with extras like an integral sailing harness increase the price.

5. Inflatable life jackets are uncomfortable - Baloney! Inflatable life jackets are compact, don't trap body heat, give full body movement, and can be as unobtrusive as small bait pouch attached to your belt. Look for one that has a neoprene chafe guard around the neck and one that can be adjusted to prevent it from shifting from side to side. 


Inflatable PFD

Tags: Inflatable life jackets, boating safety