A Note From The President:

2017 marked the twentieth year for me working in the Foundation. The years that have passed have seen some dramatic changes, but a consistency of purpose. Foundation programs have led the boating safety community for years—our award winning Online Boating Safety Course and Life Jacket Loaner Program have likewise had their twentieth anniversaries, and new programs such as on-water education will lead us into the future.

The Foundation touches hundreds of thousands of boaters every year with positive ways to keep our waters clean and to enjoy boating safely. Our programs are funded primarily through small donations from boaters like you. I hope that as you read this Annual Report, you can see the value in our programs and make the choice to help support our safe and clean boating mission. As you read about our programs, I think you’ll see that we are careful stewards of our resources, and provide a tremendous value to our donors and the boating public.



Our Mission

The BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is an innovative leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating. The Foundation provides educational outreach directly to boaters and supports partner organizations nationwide.

With millions of boaters on the water, our aim is to reduce accidents and fatalities, increase stewardship of our waterways and keep boating a safe and enjoyable pastime. The BoatUS Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our work is primarily funded by grants and individual donations.

2017 At A Glance

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Float Coats

Body Glove donated hundreds of Coast Guard approved float coats to us in late 2016. In 2017, we were able to sell, pack, and ship over 1,100 of these float coats across the country. Thanks to this donation, we made over $35,000. The remaining floats coats were given back to organizations such as Maryland DNR and the National Safe Boating Council to help promote safe boating throughout the community.


On-Water Training

2017 was an exciting year for the BoatUS On-Water training program in which we successfully conducted four pilot events at various east coast venues including; Miami, Sarasota, Charleston, and Prince William, VA. We also established a key partnership with Freedom Boat Club, which gave us access to clean, reliable, and modern boats, coupled with professional, experienced training captains.

Utilizing the data that we had gathered in 2016, we deployed our team to the Miami International Boat Show and partnered with Discover Boating to produce the On-Water Training Program. We learned a great deal from this experience and gathered valuable data through student surveys. We also conducted two pilot events with Freedom Boat Club that were extremely successful. The third model we tested was at a Dealer/Marina facility. This again proved to be successful and we came away with a lot of great feedback and areas for efficiency gains.

While we were conducting these pilot events, we were continually making improvements and refinements to our processes. We had a number of hurdles to overcome and challenges to solve. Through our internal team and partner organizations, we were able to establish a program that is both self-sustaining, and viable at a national level. We are looking forward to 2018 and the challenge of expanding the program to 15 events.

Partnered with Freedom Boat Club


4 pilot events


516 Students trained

Continuing the Lean Six Sigma Process

Facebook Live

Check out just a few of the facebook live sections we have done over this past year.

Foundation Findings

Distracted Boating


Over the last few years, distracted boating has been identified as a contributing factor leading to a boating accident. In order to better understand the issue, and how to effectively educate boaters on the importance of maintaining a proper look-out, the Foundation teamed up with the National Safe Boating Council to measure brain waves of volunteer boat operators and record what they were seeing. Foundation staff also took note of how the operators reacted to their on-water stimulus such as passing other boats, observing changes in the weather and navigating around obstacles. By using a special headset that measured brain activity, we could determine a baseline level of concentration. After the initial observations, volunteers were introduced to a technique called SCAN, an acronym for Search, Concentrate, Analyze and Negotiate, and paced the volunteers behind the wheel again. Results were measurable, and they were astounding. New boaters benefitted the most, but even the most experienced operators in our study showed improvement, demonstrating that a regular and routine “SCAN” improves situational awareness, and therefore on-water safety for all who share our waterways.

Online Learning

2017 was a milestone year with 76,555 students completing our Free Online Boating Safety Course.

We also began the search for a partner to help us rebuild it with greater interactivity and to improve student experiences. After reviewing a dozen proposals we selected a partner who has worked in the boating industry for many years and pitched the most innovative ideas for updating our course. We got to work outlining what the new course would look like and rebuilding all the content. The new system is designed with a mobile-first strategy so it can be taken on the convenience of your phone, anywhere, anytime. It will also have a vastly simplified user interface to make it easier for students to get right into the course. It’s a monumental project but we’re excited to unveil the new course in early 2019.

We also rolled out a new service to course takers in select states. Instead of having to carry around a piece of paper to prove course completion, we began offering plastic boater education cards in the several new states. We piloted the cards in 2016 in just three states but with the new ones added in 2017 we brought that total up to 14.

State Cards










New York

North Carolina


Washington DC

West Virginia

2016 Financials


Board Of Trustees

Kirk La


COO of Boat America Corporation

Janice Hobart



Bob Adriance


Past Technical Director, BoatUS

Bernadette Bernon


Past Editor of Cruising World Magazine

Jim Ellis


Past President of BoatUS

Ronald Peterson


Retired VP, RIS Paper Co.

Robert Putnam


Vice Chair, Audit & Finance Commitee CEO, Putnam-Ross Consulting

Ruth Wood


Past President, BoatUS Foundation

Chris Edmonston


President, BoatUS Foundation

Susan Shingledecker


Vice President & Secretary, BoatUS Foundation

Ted Sensenbrenner


Treasurer, BoatUS Foundation