When he started working at BoatUS in 1977 as an eager warehouse worker, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) Technical Director Editor Bob Adriance never fathomed the impact he would have on the thousands of recreational boaters he has helped over the years.
Adriance found his niche with growing and improving the boating industry’s only boat damage avoidance publication for Boat Owners Association of The United States, Seaworthy magazine. Combing through thousands of BoatUS insurance claims files, he connected the dots on how to prevent boat damage, injuries, and how to lessen hurricane damage to boaters, clubs and marinas. “Having the claims files allowed me to drill down and look for solutions,” says Adriance.
Now, after three decades and authoring over 500 articles for Seaworthy, Adriance is stepping down to retire. BoatUS Director of Technical Services Beth Leonard takes over for Adriance.
After that short stint in the BoatUS product warehouse, he was soon recognized for his writing abilities and initially wrote copy for the BoatUS Marine Products Catalog. He began writing for Seaworthy in 1985. In his typical self-deprecating and understated style, Adriance says, “Somehow, I wound up in the only job at BoatUS I had some talent for.”
Adriance was appointed Director of BoatUS Technical Services in 1996, where he helped the boating world learn from other’s mistakes. His proudest achievements were a significant body of work on hurricane damage prevention, fighting the misguided movement towards the “designated skipper” concept that gave boaters a false sense of security, and more recent efforts to prevent electric shock drowning fatalities from poorly maintained boat docks.
Speaking of the BoatUS Hurricane Catastrophe Team work in post-hurricane zones, Adriance says, “We had so many eyes in the field who saw what boaters, clubs and marinas were doing right and wrong, and I wanted to share that information.”
When boaters began embracing the idea of “designated skippers,” which mirrored the new “designated driver” concept for motorists, Adriance raised the issue that, according to BoatUS claims reports, only 20% of the alcohol-related fatalities at the time were due to collisions, while the majority was for other factors such as inebriated guests falling or jumping off boats never to be seen again. “A car is not a boat, and everyone needs to realize that every drunk guest — not just the captain — is a significant safety issue,” says Adriance.
However, it was the preventable electric shock drowning of 10-year-old Lucas Ritz in 1999 that led Adriance to help shed light on an issue that wasn’t well understood by the boaters or dock owners. “At the time people attributed these deaths to poor swimming abilities and not the underlying cause, because coroners weren’t able to identify this cause of death,” says Adriance.
An accomplished sailor who sails out of Galesville, Maryland, Adriance was also editor of BoatUS’ Technical Information Exchange for marine professionals and author of the book Seaworthy, The Essential Lessons from BoatUS’ Case File of Things Gone Wrong.
Writing about the serious issues of boating safety and boat damage could potentially be a dry and uninviting subject, but Adriance’s voice, laced with a subtle humor and friendly tone of your dock mate or boating buddy, made the information interesting and teachable. “You have to be friendly for it to be effective.” Adriance will remain a member of the board of the BoatUS Board of Directors, the BoatUS National Advisory Council, and the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety, and consultant to BoatUS. His immediate plans are to sail around Cape Horn, South America, a lifelong dream
Logo courtesy BoatUS