As the Carter family passed by the Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Station at the Tampa Bay Boat Show, 4-year-old Cindy Carter looked up at her daddy with a look that almost broke his heart. It was the look that screamed, “Keep me safe, daddy. I need a life jacket.”
Moments later, she had on a bright yellow life jacket and a smile on her face that could have stretched a mile.
According to Michael Wesolowski, executive director of the Sea Tow Foundation, life jackets had a personal impact on the Carter family.
“We didn’t have much time to talk, but from a short conversation, it was evident that wearing a life jacket was something that the Carter family had talked about often with their kids,” Michael said. “It wasn’t just something to do, but an aspect of boating that had to go together.”
The most important thing was that the life jacket didn’t cost the Carter family anything, thanks to a Sea Tow Foundation program which allows individuals and families to borrow life jackets they need for the day and return them when finished.
At marinas all over the country, boaters are launching their beloved vessels to begin another great day out on the water. If an extra life jacket is needed, the Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Station Program, which provides more than 40,000 life jackets across 400-plus loaner stations throughout the United States, has the safety equipment available to use free of charge.
Three loaner stations were present at the Tampa Boat Show, which is a partial on-the-water show that took place Oct. 13 – 15. The Foundation supplied more than 160 life jackets to visitors of the show, including the Carter family. By partnering with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Onyx Outdoors, exploring each boat docked along the water never had to be a concern – especially for parents of young children.
Recently, the Foundation and Sea Tow franchises across the country have been busy with life jacket loan stations and fighting to increase boating safety.
At Greenport, NY’s 28th Annual East End Seaport Museum’s Maritime Festival, a partnership between the U.S. Power Squadron and the Sea Tow Foundation has kept kayak competitors safe as they competed in various timed races. Back ashore, eventgoers of all ages were learning how to choose the right life jacket at stations set up all around the event.
Less than 30 miles north, a partnership between the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), Onyx Outdoors and Sea Tow Southern Connecticut kept eventgoers safe at the Norwalk Boat Show by providing both children and adults free loaner life jackets to use and return as they explore all the event’s attractions. The overwhelming response from event attendees was, “Oh, why didn’t we think of this? Of course we need a life jacket as we explore the docks and boats.”
Way down Interstate 95, in Pompano Beach, Florida, Sea Tow Fort Lauderdale is keeping families safe year-round with stocked life jacket stations at the city’s Hall of Fame Marina. Thanks to Sea Tow Ft. Lauderdale’s team and the Sea Tow Foundation, summer fun was never cut short because of a missing life jacket, giving the Fort Lauderdale community peace of mind when the waves were calling.
The same could be said for attendees of Virginia’s Smith Mountain Lake ACBS Antique Boat Festival and Show, where taking in the sights of antique boats paired nicely with the scenic vistas surrounding the lake. Once again, safety was key with a Sea Tow Foundation Life Jacket Loaner Station open to all attendees in the heart of the beautiful landscape at Mariner’s Landing.
Thanks to the Sea Tow Foundation, boaters all across the country will know that calming feeling of safety a life jacket provides while out on the water.
Is there a life jacket station near you? Tell us where and share your stories with us about using a life jacket when it was most needed.