Commander Dan Shipman, Recreational Boating Safety Specialist for the 13th Coast Guard District received the Innovations Award on Sept. 17 at the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ conference. The Innovations Award, which is sponsored by Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc., parent company of Boat Ed, recognizes Shipman’s perseverance in delivering the Coastal Bar Warning and Information System in the coastal harbors of Oregon and Washington.

“NASBLA and Boat Ed established the Innovations Award as a way to recognize and bring more visibility to programs or projects that use new approaches to encourage safe boating,” said Cindy Kalkomey, vice president of product development at Boat Ed. “Dan isn’t the only person who should be proud of his hard work, either. We had many applicants who all deserve a round of applause for their hard work in bettering boating safety with their programs.”

Shipman received the award for developing a Coastal Bar Warning and Information System in all coastal harboUrs on the Oregon and Washington coast. The system was implemented to provide boaters with real-time access to information regarding Coastal Bar conditions. In the past, communicating conditions and travel restrictions was problematic because boaters weren’t made aware of the rapidly changing conditions. This lack of communication caused boaters to put themselves in hazardous situations, resulting in significant loss of life. Now, Shipman’s warning and information system uses computers, smart phones and low-power AM radio technology to broadcast safety information in nearly real time.  

“This system is a proactive approach capable of disseminating important updates regarding coastal conditions. Too many times boaters unknowingly entered hazardous conditions; there’s simply no excuse for that lack of communication in this day and age,” said Shipman. “The Coastal Bar Warning and Information System uses modern technology to provide a communication platform, letting boaters know if waters are navigable.”

Since the system was implemented, the number of phone and VHF radio calls has decreased by about 30 percent. The number of calls is expected to further decrease as use of the system becomes more widespread, especially with the addition of the Web-based portion in 2012. One reason for the success of the system is the new partnership between the NOAA and the USCG, as both agencies benefit from immediate
access to weather patterns and sea conditions when forecasting. Other NOAA and Coast Guard regions are considering this system to assist with distributing timely safety information. This system also may be used in multi-agency efforts to address other water safety and drowning-prevention issues.

“I feel very fortunate to have received this award. It recognizes and forwards collaboration between the United States Coast Guard, state agencies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Awards like this serve as motivation and help drive safety programs to continually improve,” said Shipman.

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