Holiday Maintenance!

Season’s Greetings!

We hope your holidays are going well, we have some great stuff going on! In fact, the following went out to all the users of BoaterRated this morning:

As you know, BoaterRated is always looking to improve our service to the entire boating community. As we have the opportunity to knock off a few things behind the scenes during this time of year, we are taking the website off line for a few days to get the changes we wanted to make done. We hope this doesn’t cause any difficulty for you, and if there’s anything we can do to help you while we’re off please don’t hesitate to let us know! We’ll be here, noses to the grindstone, and looking forward to a great 2014!

We have more than a few things to do, so we’ll be grinding away, but we hope to take some time in the middle of the week to spend with our loved ones. We hope your holidays are special too, and we’ll be coming out of the gates very excited for 2014!

All the best from the BoaterRated Team!

BoaterRated’s Big Announcement!

Hi there!
Thanks for taking a look at today’s BoaterRated post, we’re pretty excited about the happenings!

You may already know the value of shared experiences with boating services, it’s much like shared experiences with, say, roofing contractors or pizza joints, except you usually share them on a dock somewhere. The BoaterRated review site is dedicated only to serving the boating community nationwide, so you don’t have to hang out at marinas to find good services! To help us spread the BoaterRated word even further, we are launching of our first-ever crowdfunding campaign! We think this popular online fund-raising model is a perfect way to help us raise awareness of BoaterRated.com. We also think Indiegogo is the best fit for us.

Crowdfunding is a great way for us to raise the funding needed to further spread the word about the benefits of BoaterRated to the entire U.S. boating community. Anyone can participate in the campaign by contributing directly and/or by sharing our campaign with their friends and c  ontacts, be they avid boaters or just those who wish to support the boating community. You can access the Indiegogo campaign HERE, and anyone who contributes at the various levels available is offered a different “perk” at each one. As you know, the value of BoaterRated grows exponentially for everybody in the boating community as more boaters sign up and share their experiences by writing reviews. By obtaining contributions through the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, we can increase the community’s awareness of BoaterRated AND continue to offer the basic platform FREE of charge!

                            

Again, thank you for your time and participation on BoaterRated’s Virtual Dockside™. Come visit the Indiegogo campaign for more information about it, and we look forward to growing the value of BoaterRated for the entire boating community!

Thanks again!
The BoaterRated.com Crew

More Things I’ve Learned

Boy, it’s great to live on a vertical learning curve! There’s so much going on at any given moment, it can be difficult sometimes to smell the roses of all that has transpired and offered lessons. But it’s important to do so, and hopefully I can learn even more by relating them here.

Once again, I found myself at Lake Guntersville, AL for this past Columbus Day weekend. The main reason for going to that area got squashed by the government shutdown, so we decided to make the best of it a little earlier. There was some work to get done on the boat – a new raw water strainer for the engine was calling us as the one in there had served long and well and was due a proper retirement. Being a sailboat, locations for stuff like that is generally an afterthought and present their own challenges. And since we were changing the strainer, we decided that new hoses were in order as well. Soooo….. it became a full afternoon’s effort. A successful one as it turned out, and herein is lesson number one: Allow enough time and prepare as well as you can, and even tho it’s never enough time and you aren’t nearly as prepared as you could be, there’s a great deal of satisfaction at the successful end of a DIY project. As an aside, when that coincides with the start of Captain’s Hour, it’s just that much better!

So THAT's why they call it colors!

THAT’s why they call it colors!

We decided that, since we now had a reliable source of raw water to cool the engine (and the internet hotspot was charged up and working!), we should go camping out in one of the coves along the edges of Lake Guntersville. There are zillions, it seems, and we decided to head toward the Guntersville Dam and a tributary of the Tennessee River called Honeycomb Creek. A neighbor of ours at the marina gave us some advice (imagine that! See what good a Review Website such as BoaterRated.com can be?!), and we wanted to see how much room we had going under the US 431 bridge. Turns out there’s plenty, we had some decent sailing up the river and a pleasant motor into the suggested cove along the Creek. Captain’s Hour came soon after we secured everything and made sure we were safe at anchor, and a glorious sunset over the far bank provided a perfect backdrop to a perfect evening. Lesson 2: Go for it, and if you can use any of the advice you’re given (and you’re ALLLLLways being given advice!), do so. Our trip that day was far better for the pearls of wisdom received on the dock before we went.

We awoke the following morning to a fog-bound cove, but we heard the bass boats in the distance buzzing out to their fishing holes. We checked our bearings on everything and were satisfied that we hadn’t moved at all, so we fired up the stove. There are few things finer than the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying while swinging on an anchor in an isolated cove! Lesson? While you will likely always forget SOMEthing, don’t forget the coffee!

After breakfast we motored back the 12 or so miles back to the marina (no wind!), stopping at another marina on the way to top off the fuel tank for the winter. We’d never been to this marina by water, and the proprietor was extremely helpful directing us into the access channel to the fuel dock. Much to my delight, he brewed a fresh pot of coffee (see above!) and I thoroughly enjoyed a large cup on our way back to our home port.

The home port was crowded upon our return. There was a sailboat race that day even in the light winds, and a social pot-luck stew dinner and program planned for that evening. We puttered around the boat for a spell, I did some work and Amy went to acquire some contributions to the evening’s feast. Soon enough the business side of the Club management was concluded and it was safe for us to travel to the clubhouse for some fellowship and laughs.

The program after dinner was cobbled together by two of the more experienced cruisers in the club and the subject was the numerous anchorages that dot the shores of Lake Guntersville. How timely, we thought! George and John set up some video aids, including a mobile version of the Navionics software to a large screen that all could see. They covered numerous anchorages from the Dam (including Honeycomb Creek, where we chimed in with our previous evening’s experience) upriver past the location of the LGSC and up nearly to Scottsboro. Tons of great information, and kudos to George and John for taking the time to organize and present the program. Lesson: There’s great information all over the place, and there are lots of times you don’t know where it may come from. In that vein, the generosity of those who share the boating lifestyle seems to be very deep and nearly unshakeable. It’s a challenge to try to give back as much as has been gained over the years, but it’s one I’d like to continue to take on.

The following morning we were invited to share breakfast with another couple down the dock a ways. They have recently purchased a bigger boat and are planning to do some serious cruising. The boat is in Annapolis (one of our favorite places!) and they are looking for help from us bringing the boat from there to the Florida Panhandle, where they can spend some time on her with as little travel time as possible prior to retirement. It’s a long trip, and they are planning it with disaster avoidance a high priority. The fun part is that they are keenly aware of their lack of experience and are planning for as many contingencies as they can dream up. They are also aware that they will in no way dream them all up, so they are leaving a ton of wiggle room for the unexpected. Not at all a bad way to plan this stuff, we thought. The lesson I took from this? There are tons of folks that enjoy what we do for leisure, and some have more experience than others. There is tremendous value in those with more in sharing what they have, and just as much in those with less to soak it in – it’s always cheaper to learn from mistakes made by others!

This only gets us thru Sunday morning, and there was lots more weekend left! Some great sailing on Sunday, a spontaneous decision to spend Sunday nite an an anchorage revealed at Saturday’s program, a mashed raw water impeller, a slow drift home Monday and subsequent impeller fix, and a spectacular dinner at home Monday nite before my Tuesday morning trip back to Florida rounded out an amazing weekend. All of it reinforces what we’re doing with BoaterRated.com – we look forward to broadening the use of the platform to enable those with experiences to share with those who may not have so much. We enjoy the heck out of our fun on the water, and we look forward to sharing that fun and enjoying the fun of others. We hope you do too!

Bass Fishing League Brings Anglers and Boaters to Lake Guntersville

BFL Weigh-In at Lake Guntersville, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013

BFL Weigh-In at Lake Guntersville, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013

Who says only the big pro bass circuit anglers can win hefty prizes for pulling in the fish? This weekend the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) is at Lake Guntersville, Alabama, giving top amateurs an opportunity to fish to win a Chevy 1500 Silverado and a Ranger Z18 with 200 horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard. The BFL brings together anglers from four different divisions in Guntersville from Oct 3 – 5, 2013.  We met up with the father of one of the competitors. Father and son traveled all the way from Louisville, KY to participate. I asked the proud dad what it took for his son to qualify for the BFL. It turns out that his son had to compete in five tournaments and pull in enough bass in each event to qualify for the Bass Fishing League and a chance at the prizes. These are all serious anglers!

So far the BFL here at Lake Guntersville has enjoyed good weather. Temperatures have started out in the mornings in the high 50′s and climbed to the 80′s by mid-afternoon. Fog delayed the anglers for about an hour and a half this morning, but they fished hard to make up for lost time. Folks in the know speculate that something in the range of 60 pounds will have a good shot at winning the tournament here at Lake Guntersville. We watched the action at some of today’s weigh in. The current leader had just over 40 pounds for two days of fishing. There were a lot of spectators at the weigh in and everyone was having a great time.

BLF BoatsThe personal financial commitment that these anglers make is substantial. They have their own boats, engines, gear, tackle and transportation. In many areas of the south, boating is almost synonymous with fishing. Families take every opportunity they can to go out fishing together and to enjoy time on the water.  We started BoaterRated to help all boaters, especially those who are passionate about their boating (and fishing!) and who don’t have anyone to sponsor their hobby. BoaterRated is an objective source of information from real boaters and we aim to help you make the most of your hard-earned dollars.

We wish all the anglers participating in the BLF this weekend lots of luck and great fishing. Whoever takes home the big prizes will surely deserve them!

Boating – A Weekend Report

Last week I had a chance to attend the IBEX marine trade show in Louisville, KY. There I met and listened to a ton of movers and shakers in the biz, and I started chronicling my experiences at the show in my last post here. This past weekend I had a chance to witness the movers and shakers at the grass roots.

For those of us interested in the sailing side of boating, there was a race or two this past weekend. Many have been tuning in to the America’s Cup, one of the highest profile competitive events in the sport. The Little America’s Cup (really the International C-Class Catamaran Challenge Trophy, which originated in 1961) started on Sunday, the Melges 32 class World Championships ended Sunday (congratulations to the crew on Argo!), and there were numerous events held all over the country and the world at levels from these top end regattas to weekend beer can stuff.

I had the pleasure of participating in the Tennessee Valley Challenge Cup regatta, hosted by the Lake Guntersville Sailing Club and Marina in Guntersville, AL. The regatta is a challenge between six member clubs which field teams of at least three sailboats each. The low score (sailing races are scored like golf, lower scores are better) of the top three boats from each team is awarded the Cup, and the hosting duties rotate around each of the six member clubs that ply the waters of the various Tennessee River lakes.

As with any event, it’s the people behind it that make it happen. Granted, the weather is always a factor in any outdoor activity, and especially so in boating-centered ones, but Mother Nature cooperated in large measure and the organizers made the most of it. But the man behind the controls showed the dedication and drive that I found with the well-compensated suits at IBEX, and he did it for kicks. The folks behind the scenes – those cleaning up the place the week(s) prior to the event, shopping for the food and beverages, organizing the amazing meals (including make-and-take lunch provisions, a great idea!), entertainment for the Saturday festivities, and other details too numerous to mention were all executed flawlessly by volunteers with smiles on their faces at all times.

It’s the smiles that counted most. Any time anything was asked of anybody, the response was a cheerful yes, or a cheerful I’ll see what I can do, or a cheerfully friendly something. The organizers and volunteers made each and every participant – or more accurately, guest – glad they spent the time and money to come to the LGSC and play in their sandbox. I’ve participated in a lot of regattas in my day, and organized a few too. I’ve sailed in everything from World Championships to the beer can stuff mentioned above, and I gotta tell ya, the organization and execution of this TVCC was right up there with the best, a sentiment echoed by each of the individual award winners at the closing ceremonies.

Just another Sunday on the Tennessee River

Sunday Boating on the River!

This is what makes the boating lifestyle so rewarding. There are so many aspects to it – Lake Guntersville was buzzing with bass boats and PWCs and more in addition to the sailboats this weekend – and we enjoy participating in many of them. But mostly we think the people who selflessly contribute to others’ enjoyment of boating is what makes it such a satisfying way to spend time. Thanks again to the good folks at the LGSC and at all the local volunteers who make it so special!

What I learned at #IBEX13

What’s an #IBEX13 you ask? Well, that’s the hashtag that was used on the IBEX twitter feed that had a reach of over 1.2 million sets of eyeballs as of yesterday afternoon, and there’s still a day to go. IBEX isn’t a bird – that might be an Ibis, native to the state where Sleepy BoaterRated Central resides and the mascot of a certain University that recently and unexpectedly beat another famous University in a football game. No, IBEX is the International Boatbuilders Exposition, one of the largest marine industry trade-only shows, put on by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Professional Boatbuilder Magazine for those in the trade who work extremely hard to make boaters’ lives more pleasurable and worth their investment of time and dollars. Not all the latest greatest boating technology is in San Francisco this week, the innovation on display here in Louisville is amazing. As a reflection on the industry as a whole, attendance this year is up, exhibitor space (over 500 exhibitors!) is up, and things point to a rebound in the industry that many have moaned was way too long in coming.

We were invited by my friend Josh Chiles, CEO and founder of our corporate friend Engaged! to assist with the care and maintenance of the Social Media Lounge, one of the largest spaces (other than food courts) on the entire floor. This is our second year here with him, and we have a great time doing it and being in the mix.

But this is about what I learned, not the demographics of the show, those will be reported at Trade Only and Boating Industry, two media sponsors of the event, among other places. The best place to start is probably with the Industry Breakfast held on the morning of the first day. After an update to the audience on the Take Me Fishing initiative, Thom Dammrich addressed the gathering with a great “State of the NMMA/Industry” speech that got the crowd fired up. Things are on the upswing indeed – the NMMA compiles tons of statistics and studies that confirm this. And plans are afoot for efforts going forward that will help improve the boating experience for the old salts and the newbies alike. Optimism in an industry trade group President is to be expected, but I was inspired to hear the results of the remarkable perseverance and dedication involved to help the boating business thru its recent difficulties with the limited resources available from a wounded constituency, the open-minded thinking of the NMMA team for the industry going forward, and all with a gentlemanly grace.

Then came a bunch of awards (Josh presented three) for excellence in various aspects of the industry. One of the most prestigious awards is the Mel Barr Award, given to recognize an individual who has contributed to the improvement of the marine industry through personal involvement. The recipient this year was Ted Hood, and you don’t need me to recount what the late, great, master contributed to the game. But we all use something that came from his head (or shop!) nearly every time we go out there. His daughter was most gracious in her acceptance on behalf of her dad. Ahhh, family!

The final award was induction into the NMMA Hall of Fame to 95 year old Ralph Meloon, who’s been working for his family’s Correct Craft boatbuilding business since age 7. A rocky road at times, to be sure, Ralph recalled his travels with his faith and family, which, he was quick to acknowledge, extended to the entire Correct Craft crew. Part of his journey included a trip through the bankruptcy process, and for the 20 years following the company’s emergence from its troubles, Ralph and family sought out and repaid the debts from which the company was legally discharged. Every penny was paid back to the creditors or heirs. This showed me the high quality of people who work at the business of making the use of leisure time most enjoyable on the water.

The final event of the morning was the Keynote address by Rick Pitino. He works quite near the site of the show, so it was an easy commute for him! He has a new book coming out called One Day Contract where he relates his experiences as a basketball coach at the highest levels and how his attitudes have developed with his ongoing successes. The essence of his talk was that each day is a unique opportunity to do something great, and it’s ultimately up to you to do so to have your “contract” renewed the next day. This approach can apply to any part of one’s life, whether for a job, family, or leisure. This being a trade show, the aim was at how each of us might meet the opportunities presented in our professional lives on a daily basis. Let’s take it a step further and consider how it may apply to leisure time, which is after all the focus of most of us at the show. I like sailboat racing, I’ve done a bit and managed a few. Every time I go out I ask myself what I learned that day. I don’t stop until I have an answer. I like to go fishing (I’d like to do more catching, but that’s another story!) and when I get back in I try to learn what I could do better next time. It was good for me to have this attitude validated by a basketball Hall of Fame member, and it reinforced my dad’s credo that Every Day is indeed a Blessing.

And it’s only 9:30 am on the first day of the show. Time to get to the Social Media Lounge and talk to more of these folks! I’ve learned much so far, and since the show’s not even over as I write this I’m sure there’s more. I love living on a vertical learning curve! Make the most of your day, whatever you do.

BoaterRated and Arbitration Resolution Services Announce Affiliation Agreement

Wow, it seems like forever since we’ve been here. Fortunately we have something good for you. We think this is a tremendous benefit to our Partner Businesses and to their customers.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contacts:

L. Carl Schellbach, Jr. – 1-877-292-7440, carl@boaterrated.com
Thomas P. Weber – 1-888-934-1777, tweber@arbresolutions.com

BoaterRated and Arbitration Resolution Services Announce Affiliation Agreement
Stuart, FL., August 12, 2013 – BoaterRated, LLC, which operates the leading independent marine business review website–where boaters rate and review boating businesses–and Arbitration Resolution Services (ARS), which has developed the ideal environment for alternative dispute resolution using binding arbitration, today announce that they are teaming up in order to bring a value-added service.

The new service allows BoaterRated Partner Businesses™ to use ARS services at reduced fees for all parties to a dispute.

“BoaterRated.com exists to help the boating community get more enjoyment out of their investment and to help marine providers increase their level of customer service,” said Carl Schellbach, Partner of BoaterRated LLC. BRPB badge only“Needless to say, not all boater experiences with providers are great, although many of the not-so-good ones are generally resolved when the provider’s attention is drawn to an issue. The Partner Business feature of a 14-day Reconciliation Period has resulted in a good number of amicable resolutions. We’re always on the lookout for ways to help boaters obtain the best products and services available. So, for situations that are not resolved during the Reconciliation Period, ARS offers an attractive path to a fair resolution and we’re glad to be able to offer it on terms equally favorable to all parties in a dispute.”

Tom Weber, CEO of Arbitration Resolution Services, adds, “Litigation is always a last-ditch and usually overly expensive effort to resolve disagreements. Arbitration offers a far less expensive and less adversarial solution to problems that can arise, and indeed have arisen in my own boating experience. ARS is an efficient way to accomplish the process, and at far less cost than hiring lawyers and court time to resolve an issue that usually involves less money than the legal fees and court costs would total.”

BoaterRated.com and Arbitration Resolution Services are offering a reduction in ARS’s standard fee schedule to businesses enrolled in BoaterRated’s Partner Business Program™. Mr. Schellbach says “We’re always seeking to add benefits for Partner Businesses to help them better serve the boating community, we see this as a great addition to the portfolio.”  Mr. Weber goes on to say “We share BoaterRated’s commitment to objectivity and fairness and for that reason we are glad to offer a discount to all sides of a dispute that comes to ARS for resolution. BoaterRated Partner Businesses demonstrate their commitment to a high level of customer service, and that commitment really shows when things get a little tougher and the business wants to make things right as efficiently as possible for all.”

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About BoaterRated:

BoaterRated, LLC owns and operates BoaterRated.com, an easy-to-use, independent review website where boaters can offer ratings and reviews of local boating businesses, and where those businesses can easily enhance their “get the word out” efforts. For more information visit http://www.BoaterRated.com and explore!

About Arbitration Resolution Services:

ARS provides first-quality easily facilitated online arbitration services to companies and individuals. ARS is creating a seismic shift from the expense and hassles of courtroom litigation to online arbitration using innovative software technology that makes online arbitration accessible. ARS makes the resolution of disputes accurate, quick, and cost effective! For more information about ARS and the arbitration process, visit http://www.ArbResolutions.com .
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