Propeller Guard Bill Introduced in Albany

In what marine dealers and experts agree is a misguided attempt to improve safety, a bill introduced in Albany would require propeller guards on “instructional vessels.”

The justification for the bill is listed as follows: “On July 18th, 2017, a 12-year-old boy was tragically killed when he was hit by a propeller during a boating lesson in Centerport, Long Island. After performing a routine sailing exercise, the child was brought onto the motorized boat of the class instructor, whereupon he fell out of the vessel after it accelerated and was struck and killed by the propeller blades. To prevent similar instances from occurring in the future, this legislation would require that propeller guards be installed on all vessels that are used to instruct children under the age of eighteen.”

ESMTA opposes this ill-advised legislation, and it will be thoroughly discussed at our meeting on October 12th in Albany.

Fight against Invasive Species Continues  

Boaters across New York have been met with a variety of new regulations in recent years in the important effort to control non-native, invasive, and destructive species in New York’s waterways. A recent editorial in the Capital District’s Albany Times Union addressed the issue with an interesting perspective: Read more

Upcoming Boat Shows 2017-2018

  • Tobay Beach In-water Boat & Brokerage Show, Massapequa

September 29 – October 1, 2017

  • NMMA Boat Show, the Javits Center, New York City

January, 2018

  • New York State Fairgrounds Show, Syracuse

Second week in February, 2018

  • WNY Boat Show, Buffalo Bills Field House

February 22-25, 2018

  • Long Island Boat Show, Grumman Studios, Bethpage

March, 2018

  • 13th Annual Great Upstate Boat Show,  Queensbury

April, 2018

Lake Ontario Small Business Recovery Fund Workshop set for September 21st in Cicero

The Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York is sponsoring a workshop to help small business owners who experienced losses from flood-related damage this year to navigate the recovery fund application process.

The workshop will be held at Borio’s Restaurant, 8891 McDonnell’s Parkway in Cicero, New York from 1 pm until 3 pm on Thursday, September 21st.

Significant flood-related damage and other losses occurred this year due to the raised level of Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Seneca Lake, the Seneca River, the Oswego River, the Oneida River, Oneida Lake, and Cross Lake. Read More

“If you are interested in obtaining an application or if you already have one, be sure to bring it along,” said Barb Caster of BIA.

“We want to focus on specific questions while you are working on the information needed to file for funding.  We will have James Fayle and Christine Costopoulos, from the Governor’s Office of Empire State Development, to help everyone and answer questions.” Attendees should email bia@twcny.rr.com to reserve a seat. Questions can also be sent that “would help move the meeting along,” Barb added.  

“If you are not familiar with Borio’s Restaurant, it is an excellent venue and you might want to either come early for lunch or stay after for dinner. We will provide some beverages for the meeting. All Marina’s that have been impacted by the flooding are encouraged to meet with these state officials,” she noted.  

New State Recreational Boating Report Focuses on Safety, Accidents & Deaths

Despite a slight decrease in the number of boats registered in New York State, accidents, injuries, and deaths increased on New York’s waterways in 2016 over the year before.

That is the major thrust of a recently issued report by The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which lists accidents jumping to 208 from 187; injuries to 141 from 98; and deaths to 22 from 16. Read more

With nearly a half million boats registered in the state, the ratio of deaths per 100,000 registrations is approximately 5, which is a big reduction over the decades from the worst year on record, 1973, when there were 132 boating fatalities and the ratio was 35.

Canal Bicentennial Celebrated Across New York

Two Thousand Seventeen is an enormously important year in the history of inland navigation here in the Empire State, as we celebrate the start of construction of the original Erie Canal. At 9 a.m. on July 4th, 1817, New York’s 6th Governor, DeWitt Clinton, turned the first shovel of earth on land that is now Worthington Industries on Henry Street in Rome.  The original “Clinton’s Ditch” -- a 364 mile-long artificial waterway between Albany and Buffalo -- was completed in 1825.

Many commemorative events took place along the waterway in 2017 (the World’s Canal Conference is September24-28 in Syracuse). But a shortened canal season brought criticism from boaters and marinas, particularly in Central New York.  Read more

A headline in the Albany Times Union dubbed it “Canals’ bicentennial bummer.” While the Canal Corporation suspended tolls for boaters in 2017, it also shortened the lock’s operational season (from May 19 to October 11). Historically the waterway is operated from May 1st to November 15th -- a reduction to a 145 day season from 200 days.

The article called it a contradictory message that “has scrambled travel plans for boaters, cut business for boat clubs and marinas, forced fishing tournaments to cancel, and put a dent in Upstate tourism by out-of-towners and Canadians...”

The Canal Corporation, which became a subsidiary of the New York Power Authority in 2016 after 24 years under administration of the State Thruway Authority, is a major resource for boaters across Upstate New York. Contact them at www.canals.ny.gov

Fight Against Invasive Species

Boaters across New York have been met with a variety of new regulations in recent years in the important effort to control non-native, invasive species in the Empire State’s waterways. A recent editorial in the Capital District’s Albany Times Union addressed the issue with an interesting perspective:

THE ISSUE: Facing federal cuts, New York is pressing ahead to fight spread of invasive species.

THE STAKES: Prevention programs have been successful and need to be expanded now.

The spiny waterflea, zebra mussels and the Emerald Ash Borer are among the scores of menacing, invasive animals and plants that have potential to wreck natural habitats and destroy some of our region’s most popular tourist and recreation destinations. The war against them must be fought and won.

Yet as New York starting Monday marks the fourth annual “Invasive Species Awareness Week,” the Trump administration is poised to significantly set back this effort, proposing to cut $9 billion from a key federal program.

This war has many fronts, including more than 3,000 vulnerable bodies of water in upstate New York. Unfortunately, in some cases invasives have already gotten a foothold. Five aquatic invaders have been found in Lake George, including Eurasian watermilfoil, which clogs shore areas and blocks sunlight, and zebra mussels that gum up boat propellers and engines. In Lake Champlain, 37 different invasives have been identified; in the Hudson River, 100.

Great Sacandaga Lake is so far free of zebra mussels, thanks to an expanded boat inspection program initiated in Lake George in 2015. While costly to sustain and sometimes annoying to impatient boaters, the diligence has paid off. Just last month a volunteer inspector at the state’s Sacandaga boat launch discovered a vessel with live zebra mussels clinging to water plants on it. Unnoticed, it would have introduced the nasty nuisance into the 41-square-mile lake, and once in, they proliferate uncontrollably.

Invasives are more than an annoyance; they can also impede navigation, an issue of national consequence on a river like the Mississippi, which winds through 10 states. Recognizing the scope of the problem, Congress has long funded prevention.

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, however, includes a $9 billion cut to Army Corps of Engineers’ Aquatic Plant Control Research Program and the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It would also cut more than half the money for the U.S. Forest Service’s invasives program. Non-native plants can quickly cover the ground in woodlands, smothering saplings and fostering the buildup of dry, combustible plant material - the fuel of forest fires.

Some officials, fortunately, get it. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pledging nearly $1.7 million in grants from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund for 35 municipalities and others to help control invasive species.

And in Congress, even U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who has supported other Trump initiatives, recognizes the impact of invasives in her North Country district and vows to oppose these budget cuts.

It’s worth noting that Mr. Trump wants these and other cuts to help pay for a huge increase in military spending. Perhaps those like Ms. Stefanik can educate him that not all wars are fought with guns and bullets, but that victory is no less imperative.

Recreational Boat Tax Issue: Revisited

George Samalot, President of the Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association, is working to resurrect the idea of a more realistic tax structure for recreational vehicles in New York State. The issue – eliminating the state sales tax for boat purchases over $234,000 -- has been around for some four years now, and George disputes the notion that it’s a “tax loophole for the rich,” as the New York Times described it, and says it actually not an effort to cut a “Luxury Tax,” but rather an “everyday tourism tax.”

In an exchange of correspondence with Hudson Valley Assemblyman James Skoufis, George raised an issue that he believes is vital to the financial wellbeing of marine dealers statewide, namely adopting a recreational sales tax structure similar to the one in place in neighboring New Jersey. Read more

George proposed that the current sales tax credit in New York State be made to replicate that of New Jersey with regard to recreational boats. New York currently charges sales tax on the first $234,000 of the purchase of a boat, and hat amount there is no further tax. New Jersey has a 3.25% sales tax for any recreational boat.

“I have always thought the current tax law for recreational yachts in New York State is a move in the right direction,” George noted, “but currently, post Sandy, this new tax break offers nothing to the Hudson Valley Boat dealers.”

“Prior to Hurricane Sandy we were all enjoying selling boats that exceeded $234,000 & this new law would have benefited us all. Now doing business selling recreational vessels in the Hudson River Valley, not too many of us (if any at all) are offering yachts of this value,” he added.

George suggested that if the State would consider what New Jersey has done at 3.25% for any & all recreational boats, “that could be a nice boost for the current boat dealers in the Hudson Valley.”

Assemblyman Skoufis replied that he thought the idea was thoughtful and prudent, but noted the significant backlash in the State assembly when sales tax-free reform was last enacted for boats costing more than $234,000. He indicated there did not seem to be many legislative colleagues eager to revisit the subject.

(You can reach George with your comments or ideas at George@samalotmarine.com and Tim Sheridan at timsheridan118@gmail.com)

Boating Industry Association of Central New York

Widely known as the prominent voice of boating in Central New York, BIA has championed some impressive programs over the years, and is leading again with its “Discover Clean & Safe Boating” program, and the “Discover Better Boating” show on Spectrum cable television.   

BIA members donate a boat and motor that Dave White of the Sea Grant Program takes to boat shown across the region, talking about how to be safe on the water. Dave also provides demonstrations on the products and equipment boat owners need while afloat. Read more

And a public service program, featured the third Saturday each month on Spectrum Cable Television, is another proud boating safety promotion of the Association.

Dave White and BIA cooperate on the “Discover Better Boating” program, which features interviews with marine specialists and enthusiasts, reviews what needs to be on board every boat, and focuses on useful information such as the latest iPhone Apts that can display the vessel’s location on a lake or waterway. BIA promotes the show through an ad running the whole week prior to the show on its Web site.

This year the Association began its “Suddenly in Command” program all summer long, specifically for people who are always aboard with a vessel’s captain. Focused on small groups of 10 people at various marinas, it allows the passenger to know what to do if the captain becomes incapacitated or overboard.  

The major public and member activities are the annual New York State Fairgrounds Boat Show in February, and the “Clean ‘em out” Boat show the week after Labor Day.

The Fairgrounds show features the most boats of any show in New York, and Association members look forward to selling their trade-ins and leftover models at the show following the Fair. These activities highlight BIA’s commitment to be very active as an organization, and to do everything with their members in mind.

Barb Caster, Executive Secretary, notes that BIA proudly sponsors the CNY Boat Show, which is one of the biggest in the Northeast with more than350 boats filling three buildings at the State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. Show Manager Drew Wickham gives space to the Power Squadrons, the New York State Police, the Clean & Safe Boat Program, and a pool for Dave White’s demonstrations with auto life jackets.

Eastern New York Marine Trades Association

As originator of the highly successful, 12-year run of the Great Upstate Boat Show in Queensbury, the ENYMTA can boast of an annual event that attracted 3,500 people in 2017, and sold nearly 150 boats valued at some $6 million. Read more

Jon Andersen, President of Andersen Boats, heads the Association, which represents 49 marinas, boat dealers, service providers, yacht clubs and support businesses.  

The Great Upstate Boat Show is held at the Adirondack Sports Complex, which offers 98,000 square feet of exhibition space. The show has grown every year with good results, according to Roger Phinney, Executive Director of the Association, who said the 2017 show had the biggest sales ever.

Another major thrust of the organization is the “Boat Upstate New York” campaign, which is an effort to build upon the show and draw more boaters to the Association’s area. A goal is to “touch base with everybody along the west edge of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Lakes,” Roger added, “increasing the market up here to sell boats.” It’s intended to provide a service to all the members in the 518 area code, not only Lake George.”

The Web based program will answer questions that current and prospective boaters might have about the area: Where can I find dock space? Where can I get my boat inspected and washed?

The Association is also focusing on another area that dealers see as essential for the future of service work in their business: the Marine Tech Services Program through BOCES (the Board of Cooperative Educational Services district).

Champlain Valley Tech is coordinating the program, teaching people to learn marine services -- just like auto mechanics, hairdressers, building trades, and other curriculums at the school.

The model is a two year course on marine tech in New Hampshire (and on Long Island) which is accredited by New York State. Students include adults, and student loan programs apply through BOCES. Partial credit for high school classes taken towards an associate’s degree are included.  

“There’s a dramatic void – a shortage – of marine technology workers,” Roger noted. “We need support from dealers for internships, and summer work -- basic marine stuff, so students can learn marine repairs & service. This will create jobs. Lots of jobs are now looking for workers. We need to start marketing this in the eighth grade through Guidance counselors.”

While he said most people see the marine market as seasonal jobs, marinas repair shops are still open in the winter for repairs. “And these are portable jobs, real good jobs. We need to get this program certified and up and running, and transport it to the Saratoga area, where there is bigger audience to draw from.”

The importance of the effort is brought into sharp focus with the realization that the average age of a certified marine technician is reported to be 55 years old.

ENYMTA honored long term Executive Director Roger Phinney on Monday evening, September 11th. Roger’s moving on a bit, but not retiring. His successor, Joel Holden, will be allowing Roger some freedom, but not a lot -- Roger is not going too far away. Senator Betty Little spoke at the event and complemented Roger, as well as poking a little fun at him. ESMTA congratulates Roger as well!

New York Marine Trades Association

The NYMTA is an association of more than 150 marine businesses on Long Island and in New York City. The organization wants Long Island Boating to be great for their business and for the public. When the consumer is happy, the marine industry is doing its job.

The biggest focus of the organization currently is the issue of maintenance dredging in the waterways in and around the Town of Hempstead, according to NYMTA President Jeff Kalibat.

“The biggest issue is the channels,” Jeff said. “A tremendous problem is getting a place to put the dredge material. And it’s not a lack of will or funding -- it’s a matter of getting permission.”

That emerged as a major point of contention between New York State officials and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency last month, as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit against a decision to designate a permanent open water dredging site in Eastern Long Island Sound.

Recently one dump site -- a 60 foot hole that has been used for years -- had its permit pulled by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Town of Hempstead asked for NYMTA’s assistance with DEC in addressing the problem. “We’re having some active meetings, and hoping that we’re making progress,” Jeff Said.

He also noted it’s an important opportunity to attract more marine business members to NYMTA: “Without more members, it becomes more difficult for us, he said. “It’s frustrating that guys throughout the whole area don’t join the Association.”

Jeff believes a potential way to solve the problem is to get area legislator’s out on a boat at low tide to actually see what’s involved. “Show them what we’re dealing with – there’s no way there is safe travel at night no matter what channel you’re in,” he added.