South Carolina dealers and others participated in a major media event to draw attention to the PREPARE bill sitting in Congress as the largest spring boat show on the Great Lakes opens tomorrow in Ohio for its three-day race.
With TV cameras and other media on board, boating industry players rushed to show Congressional Boating Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.) the need to pass the Supply resources for Emergency Preparedness and Resilient Business Act, aka PREPARE Act.
Traveling the waterways of Charleston SC, Mace got to see first-hand how and why the PREPARE Act would benefit small maritime businesses by providing much-needed capital to invest in disaster-resilient infrastructure and enforcement measures that protect against natural disasters. Loans are crucial for businesses in vulnerable coastal communities.
Chris Butler of Butler Marine, based in South Carolina, shared his experience when Hurricane Elsa, one of the first storms on record, hit his Charleston dealership and marina with a micro tornado on July 7, 2019. ‘last year. Elsa had been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it made no difference when she arrived.
“The storm swept away about 80% of our docks, overturned and pushed three boats in the yard that weighed over 10,000 pounds for about 30 feet, and obliterated the door to our dry building that was designed for 125 winds. mph,” Butler said. “Our dry stack staging area was unusable and luckily our launch dock remained intact.”
It took over three months to return to “normal” operations and resolve insurance issues. “Because Elsa was a named hurricane, all sorts of insurance considerations, driven by higher deductibles, were in play,” Butler said. “Ultimately, our out-of-pocket expenses exceeded $125,000, and the time and issues getting back to full operation weighed on our entire team.”
Referring to the PREPARE Act, Butler pointed out that if the loans included in the legislation had been available, he could have completed the repairs more quickly and continued to grow the business. Equally important, he sees that the PREPARE Act would improve infrastructure that could lessen future storm damage.
Mace is a co-sponsor of the PREPARE Act. The meeting and on-site inspections were organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas. The local delegation was also led by Gettys Brannon, president of the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance.
Local media coverage of the event included:
• NBC 2, Charleston: Bill would help small marinas prepare for and recover from natural disasters
• ABC 4, Charleston: Rep. Nancy Mace co-sponsors PREPARE Act to help small businesses after disaster
Maritime industry efforts to advance the PREPARE Act are a high priority due to the need for climate-resilient infrastructure and disaster mitigation.
Opening of the boat show on Lake Erie
The Catawba Island Boat Show opens tomorrow and is expected to draw more than 10,000 attendees to the Catawba Island Club in western Lake Erie. The show has become known as the kick off of Ohio’s boating season due to its location and festival atmosphere.
“The show continues to grow in popularity,” says Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. “We continue to add entertainment and special events for visitors when they are not boarding the boats. Together, they make it a launch party for the nautical season.
Top of the list of new features is On-The-Water-Ohio’s new “Discovery Center,” featuring a paddling pavilion focused on kayaks, paddleboards, and related accessories, as well as demonstrations in the water by paddle pros. Chuck Earls, expert kayak angler on Lake Erie, will be hosting daily clinics on kayak rigging and fishing techniques.
There is also a new On-The-Water-Ohio Market hosted by Cuyahoga Collectives and featuring local and regional artisans and artisans. And for the fishing fanatics, there will be seminars with Captain Ross Robertson on walleye techniques and fishing prospects for the year.
Another addition is a patio for the whole family, an area with lounge seating, games and activities, and a fire pit with smores for all. Live music will get your toes buzzing and a Discover Sailing area will feature cruising sailboats with licensed captains to take would-be sailors out on the lake. This will be convenient for future sailors as they will hoist the sails, take the helm and feel the wind.
LEMTA holds five boat shows a year in Ohio.