Boat Life Lessons from the Half-Million Member BoatUS Team

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Scott Croft shares boat life expertise gained as lifelong boater and public affairs leader for BoatUS member services, advocacy and boat safety [Podcast]

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Anchors AweighAnchors Aweigh Boating Podcast is a podcast for all boaters, from aspiring to experienced. Featuring in-depth conversations with boating experts and industry leaders, and packed full of tips, tricks, gear, and industry info, boaters of all levels will come away with new skills and knowledge each episode.

The recent Hurricane season was almost unparalleled in terms of intensity and destruction. Over 63,000 recreational boats were damaged in Irma and Harvey at a cost of over $655 million. One of the positives that comes out of devastation like this is that it causes people to evaluate how they are protecting themselves and their vessels and how they can be more prepared the next time this happens.

I caught up with Scott Croft, Vice President Public Affairs at BoatUS, after he spent some time on the road assisting with BoatUS teams in Hurricane damaged Florida. When he is not out in the field, Scott is Responsible for all external publicity and media relations for the half-million member boating services, advocacy and safety organization. Duties cover all BoatUS departments, including Government Affairs, Consumer Affairs, Towing Services, Insurance as well as the BoatUS Foundation for Safety and Clean water.

Scott learned to boat and ski on the great lakes as a youth and later in life spent 10 years in the US Air Force, which is where his love of boating was resurrected on the coast of Japan. After that Scott worked with some exciting travel and tourism clients like New York City, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica before his passion for boating delivered him to his current role at BoatUS.

Scott and I discussed how he got into and re-entered the boating lifestyle, the variety of benefits BoatUS provides boaters, current issues that are important to boaters on capitol hill, the importance of boat insurance and more! Enjoy!

Be sure to click on links to listen to the full podcast interview at the end!

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Getting started in boating

My granddad had a ski boat on Lake Erie when I was in my single digits. He got me up skiing. Then I got out of it for a while when I wasn’t near any water. I picked it up again when I went into the military. I was in the Air Force stationed in Japan and I had at my leisure a fleet of Yamaha 13 sailboats. It lit my passion again.

Sailing in Japan

I was in Okinawa. It’s ringed by coral so you had these reefs just a few hundred yards out or potentially several miles out and you’d sail from shore out to the reef and back. It was unbelievably clear, warm water, like something out of Jacques Cousteau.

Learning to ski

I remember getting pulled up many times and swallowing many gallons of Lake Erie water. We started knee-boarding and that progressed to two skis and it took me a couple summers to drop a ski. I always felt I would lose sight of where we would drop the ski but we always found it.

His current boating whereabouts

I’m on the sail side now. I’m on the Hudson River. We have a wide expanse called the Tappan Zee and it’s spectacular. There’s 300, 400 foot cliffs on one side. If you’ve ever heard of the Hudson River School of painting, that still exists today. When I go out on the water I see these magnificent sunsets and majestic mountains, it just puts me in the right place.

Coming together after the hurricanes

I gotta tell you something about the human spirit. We were down there salvaging vessels. Every day we got to go home to our air conditioned hotel, these folks didn’t. But they’d come up to us with cold water and say ‘do you want a cold water?’ Neighbors were helping neighbors start to clean up. People were helping to push boats out of people’s front yards and driveways, it was heartening to see.

The importance of boat insurance

I looked at this hurricane event as an educational moment for people to ask themselves what’s in their policy. Boat insurance is unlike automobile or homeowners. It’s a lot less regimented and what features that you have in your policy can vary significantly. People either insure their boat with a policy that covers everything, that includes liability coverage.

The second way is a liability portion only. It doesn’t pay for damage to fix your boat, only damage to others. The last way is they self-insure. They decide they don’t wish to have a policy and if it’s a total loss they can eat that loss.

The only reason you have to have insurance is if your lender requires it or if you physically want that policy. I told people after Irma, even if you don’t have full hull coverage its really smart to get a liability only policy because it’s really affordable and it covers a lot.

Why he loves boating

Boating is in my heart. I live and breathe boating, it’s something I believe in – keeping the family together with all the things that compete for your time like technology and sports. Today boating still keeps the family together.

His favorite boating destination

It’s going to sound crazy but Lake George has been at the top of my list pretty much my whole life. There used to be a bunch of boats at the south end of the lake and a marina there that rented boats. I talked my mom when I was 14 or 15 into signing on the dotted line and going out for an hour or two. Of all the places I’ve been in the world I still like the Adirondacks, I like Lake George, it’s the closest to my heart.

The benefits of BoatUS membership

We are the nation’s largest advocacy services and safety group. The first part of our triad is looking out for the recreational boater’s interests. Whether that’s an advocacy issue or something going on in a state or federal level.

The services we offer, of course, are insurance and on the water towing. We’re the largest on the water towing outfit in the country with TowBoatUS. We have over 600 red tow boats at 300 locations so if you are going to break down on the water, and it’s a question of when not if, we’ve got your back.

The BoatUS membership offers a lot of discounts on things like marina slips and fuel discounts. We have over 1,000 partner businesses and 600-700 of them are marinas. We also can’t forget BoatUS Magazine and to me that’s one of the biggest benefits. It simply gives you the best information to make your boating better.

What causes people to need their services

The number one reason why 70,000 people called us last year for routine on the water help was engine trouble and part of that is unknown. Number two is battery issues. Its engine issues, electric issues, battery jumps and running out of gas in that order. It will happen and its really easy to get an on the water towing plan. Very much like a AAA for the water, we’ll come get you 24 hours a day. What we do is make a bad day go a lot better.

Current advocacy efforts

BoatUS is the only representative up on the hill representing recreational boaters. We try to make sure that when you go out on the water that day it’s as hassle free as possible.

Ethanol is a big issue. There’s a movement that requires an increasing amount of ethanol in relation to our fuel supply. We have big challenges with that. Ethanol is scouring tanks and causing fuel related issues and that is still the #1 national issue with us. We’re not anti-farmer or anti-biofuels, we just want safe fuel for our boats.

Coast Guard funding is a big thing right now on Capitol Hill. We have to ensure the things we need like the weather that NOAA provides or the rescue services are not cut.

This is a game of numbers. Those with the most voices often get the attention they need. We want to create the largest advocacy group in the country. Join BoatUS and become part of that advocacy effort. Sign up for our email alerts that let you know about legislation going on in your state that will affect your boating.

There is so much more useful information in this interview so give a listen and let us know what you think!

Listen to the full Podcast:

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Listen on iTunes: Scott Croft – November 15, 2017 (free)

Listen on Google Play: Scott Croft – November 15, 2017 (free)

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Matt O'Hara

View posts by Matt O'Hara
Matt O’Hara is the owner, along with his wife Rebecca, of Freedom Boat Club Lake George and the Queen Boat Co marina. After a 10-year career in media sales in Boston, MA Matt and Rebecca decided to relocate and open their own Freedom Boat Club, where they could share their love of boating and Lake George by helping others get on the water. The best part of the new career has been the joy they see families having on the water day in and day out, making memories that will last a lifetime. Matt has combined his background in media with his move to the boating industry to launch Anchors Aweigh, a podcast for boaters.
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