Spring has sprung and most members are getting ready for the new season. Some have already started. Even though the season is just getting under way, it’s not too soon to think about our annual fall meeting. Last fall after our annual meeting the Board conducted a survey to see when it would be best to hold our annual meeting. It was an almost even split between the fall and spring. However if were to be held in the fall, the survey suggested we hold it a week or two earlier than in the past. Based on that the board voted to have the conference on the weekend of October 15-17. The survey also suggested that slightly more members preferred Traverse City to Lansing, and so the meeting will be held at the Traverse City Holiday Inn. Why not write the annual fall conference on October 15-17 in your book now, and plan to attend? You won’t be sorry. Plans are already underway to have an outstanding program. Watch for registration information in future newsletters and communications. Meanwhile, save the dates.
An important note: If you documented your vessel last year, you, like all documented vessel owners, will receive a letter from the NVDC requiring you to affirm your documentation status. There is no cost, but you must remember to fill out the form as necessary, sign and return it. Failure to do so could result in a serious fine and the requirement to re-document your vessel. Be sure to fill in, sign and return the form promptly. You will receive a new certificate of documentation in a few weeks. I recommend that you make a color photocopy of your documentation certificate and put it with the photocopies of your other documents that you keep on your boat. It’s a good idea to keep the original in a safe place at home. I always recommend that you keep copies of your license, your drug card, your certificate of inspection,and your proof of insurance, on your boat, and keep the originals in a safe place at home. If you do that you will always be able to find either the copy or the original when you need it. Too many times I have heard some one say, “I would give you that information, but I left it on the boat” or worse it’s lost. It’s so easy and inexpensive to make accurate copies now, that it makes sense to have at least a couple of copies of all the important documents you might need at places where you might need them. While it’s required to have your TWIC with you when you operate your vessel, it’s probably a good idea to make and keep a copy of it in a safe place also.
In January, along with President Rich Haslett and State Affairs Chairman Denny Grinold, I attended a meeting in Lansing with Lt. Andrew Turner, the DNR law officer now in charge of charterboat inspections. Also present was Lt Craig Grey and one of the marine surveyors that the DNR hired to conduct the dry hull inspections in 2009. We had an opportunity to go over the dry hull inspection issues for 2009 and discuss extensively the possible future changes to the inspection law. There are many issues that must be considered to make changes to the inspection law, and during this time of economic and political uncertainty, it seems that it is not likely that changes will be made soon. We will continue to meet with the DNR as time goes on, hoping to make the changes that serve both the DNR and the Association. In the mean time, prepare for inspections in the same manner as in the past year.
Over the past couple of years the whole licensing renewal process has changed quite a bit. Now, the first step in renewing your license is to provide a copy of the front of your TWIC card. For a while, during the TWIC transition, you were required to go to a coast guard location to take the oath. No longer. The TWIC serves that purpose. If you are looking to renew your license contact MCBA central to have a license renewal packet mailed to you. Or, at your request, MCBA central can send you the packet by email. In any event, you will need a written letter of your membership in an approved random drug program. If you are in the MCBA program, MCBA central can send you the letter you need at your request. Once you have completed the application, you will able to mail all the documents, along with your check (unless you choose to pay by email) to the Toledo Exam Center. You do not have to appear in person anywhere during the renewal process. Another change is a much longer and more detailed medical section. Anecdotal reports seem to indicate that this is the most difficult part of the process. Be sure to follow the medical forms exactly. In most cases, if these forms are followed correctly, and no unusual conditions are reported, license renewals have been going through reasonably quickly.
Good Luck! Think spring, but plan now for the fall meeting!
Captain Jim Fenner