Sailing News

Sailfest to Feature Balladeer Carl Behrend
Carl Behrend, noted Great Lakes singer, songwriter and author will appear on Friday July 6th at Pike’s Bay Marina and on Saturday July 7th for Sailfest gatherings. See ad on pg. 43. Call Thom Burns at 612-597-7399 for more information.

Focus on Enhanced Quality Control Leads American Sailing Association to Enact First-Time Moratorium on New ASA Schools

As part of an enhanced focus on quality control, the American Sailing Association (ASA) will no longer accept applications for new sailing schools, beginning Sept. 15, 2007. For the first time in its 24-year history, ASA is enacting a moratorium on accepting applications for new sailing schools within the United States for at least one year. The moratorium is part of a dedicated effort to continue to improve quality at the 270 professionally accredited sailing schools currently affiliated with ASA worldwide.
ASA’s six-member board of directors unanimously made the moratorium decision at a recent meeting in Marina Del Rey, CA. During this minimum one-year moratorium, ASA will continue to certify instructors and students at schools affiliated with ASA. Schools already accredited with ASA before the Sept. 15 deadline will not be affected.

“We take seriously our mission to continue to improve quality control among our existing schools,” said ASA Executive Director Charlie Nobles. “This moratorium will provide important time to concentrate our efforts on enacting a comprehensive new program of quality control initiatives. By not bringing in new affiliates after September 15, our organization’s staff and resources will be available to fully support these quality control goals.”

ASA’s new online certification system will provide a key component of ASA’s new quality control efforts. The system streamlines the process for instructors to gain certifications for their students. Instead of submitting multiple pages of time-consuming paperwork via mail or fax, ASA’s new online system allows instructors to file qualifying paperwork online.

“Our new system also quickens the time it takes for students to receive their ASA certifications to only a few days after an instructor has submitted the request to ASA online,” said Nobles, who spearheaded the project in collaboration with the ASA board of directors.

Thom Burns, owner of Northern Breezes Sailing School, an ASA-affiliated school in Minnesota, Wisconsin and now Michigan says the new online system has saved him postage and time. Previously, Burns said he was required to mail in tests from students to ASA headquarters; now he files everything for his students online. “It’s a lot quicker and easier than the previous system,” he said.

Bob Diamond, director of Spinnaker Sailing, an ASA-affiliated school in Redwood, City, CA, in San Francisco Bay, says ASA’s new online system is really easy to use. “I use it and I like it,” he says. “Everything is instant.” He says that he can quickly check on a student’s status and confirm that they’ve earned their ASA certification. Sometimes, he invites students to watch him on the computer as he enters the ASA online database and instantly confirms their certification.

The new system forms the cornerstone of the new quality control system by allowing ASA to e-mail every graduating sailing student a comprehensive customer survey questionnaire. Once completed, the forms are e-mailed back to ASA, allowing staff to identify in real time any practices that do not conform to the organization’s rigorous standards.

According to Nobles, “The online student feedback system is a substantial improvement over the paper questionnaires students must mail back to the ASA. It will improve both the participation rate among students and the depth of the information gathered. Should we detect a potential problem area, we follow-up with a phone call to any school that merits concern to discuss the situation.”

Nobles urges sailors interested in establishing an ASA-affiliated school to submit their applications before the September 15 moratorium deadline. He said exceptions to the moratorium may be made for applicants starting a school in an area that is underserved and has no other sailing schools nearby or for schools located outside the United States.

About The American Sailing Association
The American Sailing Association has been the leading authority on sailing instruction and sailing schools in the United States for two decades. With more than 270 professionally accredited schools affiliated with ASA worldwide, the organization has certified more than 232,500 sailing students and nearly 7,000 professional sailing instructors. ASA membership represents 85% of the viable professional sailing schools in the U.S.

ASA is a leader in setting uniform educational teaching standards for sailing schools in America and, increasingly, around the world. The American Sailing Association is the leading body for keelboat certification in the United States.

ASA has established a strategic partnership with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and has also consulted with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Parks Service.
For further information, contact the American Sailing Association at

Boat U.S. Honors Access Award Winners
First National Symposium on Water Access Launched

As waterfront land values skyrocket, high taxes shutter marinas, and residential development overtakes the waterfront, recreational boaters have been losing more and more access to the water. But some forward thinking communities and organizations are working to turn back the tide and today at the Working Waterways and Waterfronts a national symposium on water access held in Norfolk, VA, seven recipients, including one from the Midwest were recognized with the first ever Boat U.S. Recreational Boating Access Awards.

The award was created to honor a group, government body, business, individual or non-profit organization that has succeeded in preserving or improving public waterway access for boaters. Judging criteria included how well challenges were overcome, the direct impact of the solution, and how adaptable the approach would be in other areas facing similar water access challenges.

“These Access Award winners show us that with creative thinking and concerted action we can gain better access to the water,” said Boat U.S. Founder and Chairman Richard Schwartz in presenting the awards.

Awarded was the city of Trenton, MI, for successfully restoring to environmental health the “Black Lagoon,” and thereby transforming a contaminated industrial site into a much-needed marina that will serve transient boaters on the Detroit River. This provides an excellent and successful model that capitalized on a “brown fields” industrial site for recreational boating access facilities by engaging a wide variety of partners, enlisting broad community support and leveraging multiple funding sources.

Dredging Crews Dig Port Huron
The Black River bridges in Port Huron have been going up and down as the river is being dredged in preparation for the coming boating season.

The city of Port Huron hired Malcolm Marine Inc. of St. Clair to dredge the marinas.

Dan Collins, the city’s harbormaster, said the dredging is necessary because of low water levels. The city has had to dredge every year for the past five or six years.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts water levels will be about the same as last year but still below long-term averages.

Danger Lurks at Dams Both Large and Small
In the wake of a tragic boating accident in which four occupants drowned, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning boaters to stay well away from both the top and base of dams.
“While the water around dams can look quite peaceful, at some times of the year they can become extremely dangerous,” said DNR boating safety specialist Tim Smalley.

According to Smalley, there is a recirculating backwash current at the base of most dams that can pull even large boats with powerful motors back towards the dam face, capsizing it and throwing the victims into the water.

Dams on the Mississippi River, downstream from Minneapolis, have a restricted area 600 feet above and 150 feet below the structures to help protect boaters and anglers.

The DNR said boaters also need to obey any other signs or buoys around dams as well, although even if there are no signs, that doesn’t mean the area is safe.

Dams don’t have to be large to cause injury or death. So-called low-head dams on smaller rivers and streams have been more deadly to water recreation enthusiasts than bigger dams.

Most low-head dams are less than 12 feet high but tremendous backwash or recirculating current at their base can be just as fatal as larger ones.

DNR records show there have been 57 deaths at dams in Minnesota since 1974, and most of them have been at dams much smaller than the navigational locks and dams on the Mississippi.

Even a life jacket is no guarantee of survival from a dam mishap. The strong current combined with extra air in the water, reduces a life vest’s flotation so it’s more difficult to stay afloat. Even a good-sized boat motor can be overcome, since the current is so strong and the propeller doesn’t bite as well in the bubble-filled water.

The best way to avoid the danger from a dam is simply to stay well away from it. All boats also should have an anchor with plenty of line ready to throw in case of a motor failure and everyone onboard should wear life vests.

Boaters can learn more about dams, dam safety and boating safety on the Mississippi River by obtaining a free copy of the Mississippi River Guide by calling the DNR at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or going to

Roadside Assistance Clubs Aren’t Created Equal If Your Boat Needs Towing
Many national roadside assistance clubs do a great job helping stranded motorists. But when it comes to boat trailer breakdown, boaters need to know that their “auto” club may not be their best option. “There are some key differences in the fine print that could leave trailer boaters in a heap of trouble,” said Beth McCann, director of the BoatU.S. Trailering Club.

When looking for peace of mind and shopping for roadside assistance for your trailer, McCann has these tips for boaters:

Leave my boat behind? You want to ensure first and foremost that your boat trailer is included with your chosen roadside service – many only include your SUV or truck. If your vehicle does break down, will you have to leave the boat on the trailer behind, unsecured? Many roadside assistance clubs only provide for one tow per breakdown. “Towing service for both trailer and tow vehicle is critical,” said McCann.

A winch is not always a winch: When it comes to winching a stuck towing rig up a slippery launch ramp, hope that the trailer has made it out of the water because winching service from most national auto clubs often excludes retrieving boat trailers immersed in water.

Free three miles? Some national auto clubs charge a pricey annual membership fee but may only provide for the first few miles to tow you to a repair facility and not pay for your trailer at all. After that, mileage comes out of your pocket.

When is a boat a camper? The short answer: never. When national auto clubs do provide services for boat trailers, they often lump them under their much more expensive RV towing plans. Or they may exclude trailers longer than 26-feet.

BoatU.S. Trailer Assist is the only national roadside assistance program designed to meet the specific needs of trailer boaters with over 14,000 North American service providers specializing in roadside boat trailer assistance. Affordably priced at only $29 a year, the program pays for towing services up to 100 miles to the repair facility or safe location, and includes winch service at ramps no matter if the trailer’s wheels are in the water or not.

Flat tires, battery jumps, lockouts, and fuel deliveries are also provided for in the U.S. and Canada, and it will reimburse trailer boaters for breakdowns in Mexico up to $500. For more information visit or call 800-245-6923.

Small Vessel Security Summit Looms As Boating Season Gets Underway
As millions of recreational boaters take to the waters this Memorial Day weekend, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard officials are busy preparing for a National Small Vessel Security Summit June 19-20. The summit comes in the wake of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in which a small inflatable vessel laden with explosives attacked the U.S. Navy destroyer in the Middle East port of Aden. In recent months, proposals to license boat owners or require them to outfit their vessels with expensive electronic tracking gear have been floated.

“Recreational boaters want to be part of a comprehensive solution to this threat but any new requirements must be measured in terms of both effectiveness and efficiency,” said Michael Sciulla, BoatU.S. Senior Vice President for Public Affairs.

“Requiring millions of recreational boat owners to be licensed and tasking the already overburdened Coast Guard with implementing a duplicative system solely to identify everyone operating every type of boat will be costly to develop, take years to implement and will not result in a demonstrable improvement in national security,” said Sciulla.

Currently, the Coast Guard does not believe it has the authority to require a recreational boat operator to produce identification absent specific probable cause. “We believe recreational boat owners will support the concept of their being required to produce identification and it should be the same ID required by the Transportation Security Administration to board a commercial flight,” said Sciulla.
“One key to increasing the security of our waterways will be to enlist the ‘eyes and ears’ of the recreational boating public in a substantially expanded grassroots effort that motivates thousands of Americans to do their part as citizens as was done under the government’s Coast Watch program during World War II. The other will be to clearly mark security zones - both public and private – to ensure that boaters know where they can and can not go,” he added.

With over 670,000 members, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) is the nation’s largest organization of recreational boat owners -

All contents are copyright (c) 2007 by Northern Breezes, Inc. All information contained within is deemed reliable but carries no guarantees. Reproduction of any part or whole of this publication in any form by mechanical or electronic means, including information retrieval is prohibited except by consent of the publisher.