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Memorial day weekend boating expected to be big

by Scott Croft 20 May 04:26 PDT
Recreational boaters will head to the water this Memorial Day holiday in record numbers, according to TowBoatUS, leading to more boaters calling for on water assistance. © Scott Croft

Recreating outdoors has become an important survival tool in the era of the coronavirus pandemic, and recreational boaters are no different.

The nationwide on-water towing fleet with more than 600 red response vessels, TowBoatUS, expects this Memorial Day holiday weekend to be a busy one, responding to an increased number of requests for assistance by recreational boaters.

"While there are some locations where recreational boating hasn't quite returned yet, those will be the exception this Memorial Day weekend," said BoatUS Vice President of Towing Services John Condon. "Boating is an approved activity and boaters are social distancing, so we believe they will be on the water in a big way, trying to get to back to what's familiar and enjoyable with the family."

Condon predicts calls for assistance over VHF channel 16, cellphone and via the time-saving BoatUS App by recreational boaters experiencing engine breakdowns, dead batteries, running aground or needing a tow home will be up 20%. "We think that's a conservative number," he added.

Calls for assistance to BoatUS's 24-hour dispatch is a traditional barometer of the nation's on-water boating activity.

To prevent having to call TowBoatUS for help, ensure your boat is ready to go and spring commissioning is fully completed. Breakdowns this early in the season are often attributed to rushing to get the boat in the water.

If you're trailering to the launch ramp for the first time, BoatUS dispatch reports the No. 1 request for roadside Trailer Assist service is for flat tires/no spare. Wheel bearings and trailer axle troubles follow, so be sure all three of these are up to snuff before you go.

What to do if the best laid plans collide with the unexpected? Be prepared by having a BoatUS on-water Unlimited Towing membership for freshwater boaters for just $85 per year or $159 for saltwater boaters. Included are more than 25 benefits and discounts, a subscription to BoatUS Magazine, free DSC-VHF radio registration, and more. Boaters without a towing membership face an average nationwide cost of $750 per towing incident.

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