Archive for » March 15th, 2016«

Fixing up donated boats for Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation

Looking after Lake Wylie isn’t a contest, but C.D. Collins would earn a pretty high seed if it were.

Collins moved to his waterfront home 56 years ago on the Belmont side near York County. He joined the new Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation 18 years ago, an environmental watchdog group, which annually holds a clean-up event. Registration for starts this week for the May 21 event.

It’s to the point where, apart from hauling his grandchildren for family time, Collins forgets he can take a boat ride just to enjoy it.

“Every time I go out on the lake,” he said, “I’m looking for problems.”

Over time, his passions for boating and looking out for “the river” merged. It started with a cast-aside boat here or there, and Collins realized he could take boats others didn’t want and fix them up.

“In 56 years, I have owned a great many boats and worked on them myself,” he said.

He can’t recall how long he’s been at it, repairing donated boats and selling them. He knows he hasn’t pocketed a dime. All the money from sales goes to the foundation.

The arrangement isn’t easy, but it works. Because of its nonprofit tax status, the foundation is an appealing recipient for donations. Because many in the foundation are boaters, many donations have come from like-minded water watchers and friends.

“They’re wanting to help us any way they can,” Collins said.

Recently, Collins found help in Chuck Myers, head of the Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers. He came down for his third trip Thursday to help Collins work on the four boats next in line for sale.

Myers said the issues facing Mountain Island Lake, the drinking water source for Charlotte, mirror Lake Wylie – runoff from construction sites, sedimentation, overall water quality.

Both men are retired, both in their 70s. Both have a long-lasting love for boating, and clear reminders of how important environmental work can be. They just look at their crew when they launch their boats.

“I’ve got three grandkids living with me, so I’ve got to have something to keep them busy,” Myers said.

As the area grows, so does the number of boats coming in for donations. Collins used to have one or two at a time. Now he has four, plus a personal watercraft he’s fixing up for Covekeeper patrols. He won’t be selling that one. Instead, he’s looking for a trailer and port donation.

“Using this, we can get to areas we’ve never been able to get to before,” Collins said.

With more boats comes more opportunity, but also more challenges.

“I don’t have trailers for any of them, but I can help transport them on my trailers,” Collins said.

Collins can’t count how many hours he’s put into repair over the years. He’d rather not count the money poured into boat trailers. Close to a half dozen sit on his property just for transporting different types of donated boats.

Right now he has three 24-footers, all pontoons built from 1990 to 1999. He has a 1986 bowrider. Occasionally a boat comes in great shape. All of them, Collins said, leave that way.

“They usually aren’t in condition where they’re ready to go when we get them,” he said.

Late Thursday, an ideal day for boating, Collins lay almost hidden in the bottom of a donated pontoon, tinkering to get it presentable and in good running order. He put his hands into the outer workings of an outboard engine, inches from the lake he loves so much but far from thoughts of relaxing on it.

That same day, the foundation sorted out a move from its home of many years to another in Charlotte.

“We’re moving uptown,” Collins said. “Our rent is going up, and we can always use any funds we can get our hands on.”

John Marks: 803-831-8166

What’s for sale?

1999 Harris-Kayote pontoon, 24-foot with a 100 horsepower Mercury engine

1999 Harris pontoon, 24-foot with a 55 horsepower Johnson engine

1990 Crest pontoon, 24-foot with a 70 horsepower Johnson engine

1986 Searay bowrider with a V8 engine

For more on boats for sale for the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, or to donate items, call 704-825-3588 or 704-616-6009.

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In the boat and yacht market, there’s smooth sailing ahead

Savvy agents and brokers can take advantage of carriers' healthy appetites in this market, where low gas prices helped buoy sales of recreational watercraft in 2015.
Savvy agents and brokers can take advantage of carriers’ healthy appetites in this market, where low gas prices helped buoy sales of recreational watercraft in 2015.

As summer approaches, boat owners look forward to spending weekends cruising lakes and waterways. However, this past winter served as a reminder that a boat doesn’t have to be at sea to be at risk: January snows collapsed docks and boat slip roofs at marinas in Kentucky, severely damaging hundreds of boats and even pushing several craft past the point of reclamation.

Fortunately for insurers, these types of claims have not been enough to turn the tide of profitability they have enjoyed in recent years. “We had just a phenomenal season [in 2015] for boating, with no significant catastrophes,” says Todd Shasha, managing director of Travelers’ personal insurance boat and yacht unit.

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Springline Yacht Sales receives Best in Show at the New England Boat Show

MYSTIC, Conn. — The New England Boat Show has grown into the Northeast’s largest indoor boat show, attracting thousands from the New England Seaboard. Travelling to the show with five boats, Springline was awarded Best in Show for their sailboat display.

“This year was the North American debut for Elan and Impression Yachts,” said Rick Dieterich, president of Springline. “Show attendees really appreciated the Elan and Impression.”

Springline also brought two Catalinas – selling both – and a Blue Jacket 40 – winner of Boat of the Year from Cruising Magazine.

See Springline at the Connecticut Spring Boat Show in Essex, Conn., May 12-14 with the in water debut of Elan and Impression Yachts.

“We are looking forward to warmer weather and to highlighting the Elan products for their first North American in-water showing,” said Dieterich.

With representatives in Mystic, Conn., Mamoroneck, N.Y. and Quebec, Canada, Springline is always ready to assist. For further information, visit: or call 860-817-7676.

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Brunswick makes wave by using pin money for boating – Quad

CHICAGO (TNS) — Mark Schwabero, 63, was elevated to chairman and CEO of the 171-year-old Brunswick Corp. last month, putting him in charge of the world’s largest provider of marine engines, pleasure boats, fitness equipment and billiards products.

But not bowling.

In 2014, Brunswick, based in suburban Chicago, sold its retail bowling business to Bowlmor AMF for $270 million. The company sold its bowling products line — balls, shoes and bags — to a private investment firm last year for an undisclosed price.

Schwabero, who previously served as Brunswick’s chief operating officer, was instrumental in the decision to jettison bowling, which had dwindled to less than 5 percent of revenue, in favor of its core businesses. Brunswick sales were up 7 percent last year to $4.1 billion.

The marine division, which includes everything from Mercury engines to boat lines such as Bayliner, Boston Whaler, Lund and Sea Ray, represents 80 percent of revenue. The fitness segment accounts for the balance and includes Life Fitness, Hammer Strength and Cybex, which Brunswick acquired in January for $195 million.

Schwabero grew up in New Knoxville, a tiny town in northwest Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s in industrial and systems engineering at Ohio State University, where he lived in a dorm overlooking the football stadium for most of his college days.

He went to work at an International Harvester (now Navistar) truck manufacturing plant in Springfield, Ohio, where he became plant manager at 29 and rose through the corporate ranks over 17 years. Schwabero later held executive positions with AlliedSignal, Bosch Braking Systems, Libbey-Owens-Ford and Hendrickson International.

In 2004, Schwabero joined Brunswick as president of its largest subsidiary, Fond du Lac, Wis.-based Mercury Marine, commuting two hours on weekends between Fond Du Lac and his Chicago-area home. His commute got a little bit shorter in 2014, when he joined the parent company in suburban Chicago as president and COO.

Brunswick moved to its current headquarters in 1993. Inside the spacious lobby are iconic pieces of history — a vintage pool table, a Boston Whaler boat and a pinsetter from the recently sold bowling division.

Energetic, amiable and plain-spoken, Schwabero roams his third-floor office, moving from a standing desk to demonstrate calf raises while passing an exercise ball around his waist — all using Brunswick products.

While acknowledging bowling’s historic role at Brunswick, he said the company didn’t see it as being strategic on a go-forward basis and elected to sell the business.

“We had $270 million in proceeds from bowling retail, and we’ve basically taken that and invested it in our marine parts and accessories business and our Life Fitness businesses and the recent acquisition of Cybex,” he said.

Brunswick was hard-hit during the recession, as U.S. powerboat sales sunk from 300,000 to 130,000 per year. To right their ship, Brunswick closed a lot of plants on the boat side of the business and significantly cut back employment levels.

“We had to resize the company for the reality of the market, and took about $450 million in fixed costs out of the company,” Schwabero said. “Boat sales have made a steady recovery to about 170,000 per year, but we are actually more profitable today than when the industry was at 300,000.

The growth will come from either our core business or adjacencies that we add to our core business,” he said. “We’ve done six acquisitions in the last 18 months — four that build up our marine parts and accessories business and two for our fitness business.”

Schwabero’s office includes both a traditional desk and a standing desk, part of Brunswick’s new InMovement office exercise product line.

“We’re really creating a business of changing how people work,” he said. “The vast majority of most people’s workday is sedentary.

“In addition to the standing desk, we also have a treadmill desk,” he said. “It only goes up to 2 miles per hour. There’s no reason you can’t be on a treadmill desk doing your conference call and getting activity while you’re at work.

“It’s good for the person, it’s good for the business.”

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