Reports coming in from around the country clearly indicate last weekend’s “Welcome To The Water on National Marina Day” was every bit the success that was hoped for by its planners.
Marinas nationwide hosted activities last Saturday. In spite of some rainy weather in the East, the creative thinking and successful programs conducted by the marinas and their partners illustrates how valuable this national outreach has become in calling attention to the boating lifestyle.
“With a record 263 marinas signed up this year, along with the level of engagement we saw despite any weather setbacks, we can be proud of the industry efforts,” said Carl Blackwell, who oversees Discover Boating’s “Welcome to the Water” national campaign. “Speaking for the numerous industry supporters, I’m excited about the opportunities for future.”
The Association of Marina Industries’ Wendy Larimer was equally enthusiastic. “I am incredibly happy having over 100 more participants than last year. Plus, there’s been much more advance press coverage, more states participating, more help from trade associations and industry partners. Looking ahead, next year our goal is to get more dealers to jump on the bandwagon.”
Here, then, are a few examples of successful programs that are models for participation by more marinas and dealers next year:
Pennsylvania/New Jersey: Here’s an awesome first-year effort. The Delaware River borders Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. It’s the waterfront for cities like Philadelphia, Newark and Camden. Its many marinas offer easy access to the boating lifestyle, says Dana Russikoff, co-founder of SureShade and a passionate advocate for the new Discover Boating on the Delaware initiative. “Joining ‘Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day’ allowed us to showcase marinas, yacht clubs and marine businesses in our area. It gives smaller marinas the opportunity to team up for a bigger event than they could hold on their own.”
Here are some highlights from their impressive first year effort:
Penn’s Landing Marina in Philadelphia was the site chosen for their National Marina Day event.
Activities: A Discover Boating/Welcome to the Water entry display with new boater info packs & giveaways; Dredge Harbor Boat Center (Bayliner and Lund boats on display); Philadelphia Boat Supply (Palm Coast Pontoons); D&S Marina hosting in-water boat handling clinics & promoting their “cove cleanup” on June 22; Mid-Atlantic Youth Anglers (part of the RBFF/Take Me Fishing. org) introducing many kids to fishing; Independence Seaport Museum launched two whale boats built by area youth; The Northwind Schooner with free boat rides to 50-plus visitors a trip, the first time many had ever been on the river; Delaware River Yachtsmen’s League highlighting the 39 boat clubs along the river and the community of 5,000 boaters; Philadelphia Fire Department’s Independence with water display and tours of the boat; Philadelphia Marine Police’s vessel onsite for boat tours; two tugs from McAllister Towing for display/tours; Coast Guard Auxiliary on-site safety checks; US Power Squadron and BoatUS educational displays.
“We’ve developed a strong foundation for further collaborations and a bigger National Marina Day next year,” says Russikoff. “For example, the mayor of Camden, Dana Redd, stopped by. She is now especially intrigued about opportunities to engage Camden youth in fishing and boating activities. She and Mid-Atlantic Anglers (an RBFF/Take Me Fishing partner) have a follow-up meeting scheduled.”
Florida: The remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea didn’t stop the celebration at Mount Dora Boating Center/Marina.
Partnered with: Tommy’s of Florida (area Malibu/Axis dealer), the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce, the city, Lake Eustis Sailing Club/Youth Sailing Foundation and Mount Dora Yacht Club.
Activities scheduled: Sailing demonstrations by the Lake Eustis Youth Sailing; “Women on the Water” hands-on boating session; “Bring a Non-Boating Buddy Poker Run” and the first five gallons of gas is on us; “Check-it-out Water Toys” (inflatables) test rides; Learn Wake Surf Seminars; “Kid’s on the Water” Boating Safety Session by Sea-Tow; music and food.
Promotions: Special page on website; purchased two new domain names www.boatfun.info and www.welcometolakedora.com; postings on Facebook page almost daily; Main Street banner; Large “Welcome to the Water” event banner on side of the high and dry building.
Connecticut: The Connecticut Marine Trade Association’s Grant Westerson succeeded in having Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recognize the state’s marinas by issuing a proclamation declaring National Marina Day was also Connecticut Marina Day. Saybrook Point Marina on the Connecticut River, for example, hosted a number of activities like tours, flare demos, cookouts as well as receiving a proclamation from their senator. It was also a cause for celebration as Westerson reports a bill repealing Connecticut’s luxury tax on boats has arrived on Gov. Malloy’s desk for signing. Kudos to the CMTA.
Ohio: National Marina Day took the form of a “Lake Erie Boating & Fishing Fest” in downtown Cleveland’s 55th Street Marina, reports the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association’s Ken Alvey.
Partnered with: Ivancic Marine, Ohio Divisions of Watercraft and Wildlife and boating safety organizations.
Activities: Power and sailboat demo rides; hourly hands-on fishing trips aboard the MV Holiday; tall ship sailing adventures on schooner Journey; exhibits, giveaways, food, music. A total of 792 people received boat rides while 529 kids went out fishing aboard Holiday on Saturday and Sunday.
Promotion: Local media coverage, website, new releases, flyers to participating organizations.
Elsewhere in Ohio, Marinas International’s Sandusky Harbor and Lakefront Marina marked National Marina Day with special activities including kid’s games, music, dinners, Clean Boaters signups and more. At Beaver Creek Marina, a 350-slip Kentucky facility for large houseboats, activities included poker runs for both adults and kids, the latter using dinghies.
Michigan: Weather was cool, but National Marina Day was not, reports the Michigan Boating Industries Association’s Nicki Polan. For example, Wilson Marine teamed up with Island Cove Marina on Cass Lake to give demo rides.
“We will definitely do this again next year,” said Chris Summers of Wilson’s. Shawn Carper of Island Cove and Metro Boat Sales relayed: “I sold a boat and a slip on Saturday — the event is a great way to reach new boaters.”
At Club Royale Marina on nearby Elizabeth Lake, Polan said: “I was very pleased to see families, young and old and of a variety of ethnicities, line up for boat rides. One couple travelled from Canada with a goal of buying a boat before Father’s Day. The activity was steady throughout the day,” she added. The association had helped member marinas all over Michigan promote their participation.
These reports are just a few examples of events around the country and they demonstrate that there’s no shortage of good ideas that marinas and dealers can put together for next year’s National Marina Day. This has truly become a major national promotion for our industry.