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New Beginnings: Strong Foundations

January 13 - January 15, 2013
Hilton Clearwater Beach, FL

The 26th C-PORT Conference was held at the Hilton Clearwater Beach, Clearwater Beach, FL.  It began Sunday, January 13, 2013 with our annual USCG-C-PORT Partnership Meeting.  Joining us from USCG was CAPT Peter Martin, Chief, Office of Search and Rescue.  After brief introductions, CAPT Martin urged the group to encourage better relationships with the Sectors. While many areas of the country routinely visit their Sector Commands, some do not.  It is important to know who everyone is and to make sure the Sector is aware of your particular assets and capabilities.  C-PORT with the help of CAPT Martin will be creating tools that our members may use to enhance their relationships.

The day continued with the C-PORT Insurance Program Meeting.  Representing Starkweather  & Shepley were Larry Keefe and Linda Wagner.  Keefe opened the meeting noting that this is our 11th year with the same carrier, Travelers Ocean Marine. The Board asked Keefe and Wagner what could be done to find other insurance options for our members.  It is important that C-PORT direct its members to a program that will meet their insurance needs while keeping in mind, not all operators are the same.  Keefe remarked that they are working on some options and hope to present something soon.

The C-PORT Board of Directors spent the remainder of the morning in a closed door session analyzing the many issues and tasks at hand.  The group voted and agreed on a course of action for 2013 with the following issues on the top of the priority list: Safety Management Systems (SMS) with an updated ACAPT program, continued risk management education and operations manuals available to our members and State and Local Agency Competition remains at the forefront.  Sunday concluded with our traditional Welcome Reception ending in time for our football fans to watch the playoffs.  

The start of our general sessions began on Monday morning.  Chris Shaffner, C-PORT Chairman, welcomed the attendees and CAPT Peter Martin reported on the “State of Search and Rescue”.  In recognition of their support to the conference and our industry, two exhibitors, Teleflex Marine and TowCo Mobile Solutions, were provided advertising time to present their products to the group.

Mr. Mark Houck, Esq., Houck Anderson, P.A., provided valuable insight into Crew Claims in the United States.  The Jones Act body of law is quite expansive and Mr. Houck guided the attendees through some of the situations that may arise.  He also provided all attendees with a reference book for their use.

The breakout sessions focused on training and equipment.  Mark DuPont, National Director Boat Training and Operations Program, NASBLA, presented an introduction as to why training is important to your business.  Kevin Collins, Director of Operations, TowBoatU.S. Fort Lauderdale, guided the attendees through a true safety management system, providing information regarding the missing pieces of a complete system.  Chris Shaffner in conjunction with Brunswick spoke of proper equipment for the task at hand.

C-PORT members were honored with lifesaving awards presented by CAPT Martin at the conference luncheon. Award winners are nominated by themselves and their peers.  All nominations are reviewed with the help of our USCG partners and winners are recognized for their lifesaving efforts.

Monday’s sessions ended with time provided for attendees to visit the exhibitors both at the hotel and at the marina nearby.  It also allowed for everyone to prepare for the C-PORT Banquet and Gala.  CAPT Steve Sawyer,President, AFRAS, USCG (Ret) honored C-PORT member Greg Mallek, Sea Tow Fort Lauderdale for his heroic efforts in saving the life of a woman who had washed overboard on March 12, 2012. C-PORT honored Joe Frohnhoefer, Founder Sea Tow International with the Compass Rose Award.  The Compass Rose Award is given to the person in the industry who embodies the essence of true direction symbolized by a compass rose.  This award is presented to someone who is dedicated to making the marine assistance industry better through their hard work and desire to make boating an enjoyable experience for everyone they meet. Dinner was served to over 130 guests. The evening continued with guests dancing and enjoying each others company in a non-work environment.  Also honored at the Gala were Ethan Maass and Steve Winkler, both C-PORT Directors who were stepping down from their positions.  Tina Cardone, Executive Director, presented them with jackets embroidered with the C-PORT logo reminding them that they contributions to the industry were great and their service would be missed. 

The Annual C-PORT Membership Meeting followed on Tuesday morning.  With the help of Starkweather & Shepley, C-PORT announced a new member benefit, Disability and Life Insurance products through Aflac and UNUM.   The Aflac representatives provided the membership with an overview of their products and encouraged everyone to register for more information. Elections were held with Phil Delano unanimously reelected to another term as Director and Jon Gridley, Rand Pratt and John Ward elected for their first terms. A few By-Laws changes were approved and anniversary pins were distributed as members were honored for their continued support of the association.  Steve Winkler, outgoing Treasurer, provided the Treasurer’s Report.  Tina Cardone lead the group in an open discussion of issues facing the association and encouraged everyone to make their voices heard and to contact the association with questions and comments.

Following the Membership Meeting was the Risk Management, Recertification Course.  This course was especially designed for those members who took the original risk management course prior to three years ago.  The information was presented in a manner making it beneficial to all who attended.  Certificates to all attendees who passed the exam are being issued.

C-PORT thanks all that attended this informative, valuable event. We especially thank our speakers for their time and contribution to our industry and our sponsors and exhibitors whose support and participation make these events possible.