Shipmate of the Week – James Muldoon

 The Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety Award is presented to James Muldoon by Capt. Jonathan C. Burton, director of inspections and compliance, and Capt. Tom Boross, Chief of Auxiliary and Boating Safety. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety Award is presented to James Muldoon by Capt. Jonathan C. Burton, director of inspections and compliance, and Capt. Tom Boross, Chief of Auxiliary and Boating Safety. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

With contributions from Ensign Joseph Dillier.

What group impacts more than 73 million boaters nationwide? The National Boating Safety Advisory Council.

The National Boating Safety Advisory Council is a civilian advisory board comprised of 21 members with expertise, knowledge and experience in recreational boating safety. Mandated by the Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, the council provides broad-based input to the Coast Guard on recreational boating safety issues.

The advisory board includes representatives from state boating law administrators, recreational vessel manufacturers and members of the general boating public. Chairman of the council is James Muldoon, a man who has dedicated the past 15 years to promoting safety and standardized practices to the boating public.

Muldoon, an Indiana native, is an avid sailor and competitive racer. Serving as president of US Sailing and a founding board member and vice president of the National Sailing Hall of Fame, Muldoon understands both the joy and unique challenges of life on the water.

It was during his time with US Sailing’s training committee and the Coast Guard Foundation when Muldoon first become involved with the council after hearing about it from his colleagues. The group appealed to him because “safety on and around the water is a primary concern” and he was soon named chairman.

In 1998, Muldoon was named chairman. Through his leadership, the council produced the first-ever National Recreational Boating Safety Strategic Plan in 2007. This was a big step in consolidating various existing efforts.

Click the above image to see some key boating safety statistics.

Click the above image to see some key boating safety statistics.

“One of the things that became apparent after several years of serving on [the council], was the need to map a strategic direction to ensure that the members’ efforts would be focused, proactive and have a long term positive impact on improving safety,” said Muldoon.

On the heels of this plan’s success, the council updated it in 2012. The plan, in its current form, sets the standard of safety on the water.

“We want to ensure that boaters have a safe, secure and enjoyable experience every time they go out on the water,” said Muldoon. “The strategic plan is a blueprint for fostering safe boating behaviors on all kinds of recreational boats, like power and sail boats, canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and rowing craft.”

The plan has resulted in real, quantifiable changes to safety on the water. But there was another unintended outcome from the council’s work on a strategic direction: the unity it has fostered among boating safety partners.

“All the major national boating organizations have signed on and that’s exciting,” said Muldoon.

“Raising boating safety partner organization awareness of the value of boating education and in particular, on the water training, has spurred the growth of on water learning opportunities across the county. And that’s good for boaters,” he added.

With the different organizations and stakeholders in the boating safety world, there is a lot of teamwork required to get anything done. Muldoon acknowledged the importance of collaboration and the pivotal role it has played in the council.

“Inclusive process, collaboration and teamwork have been essential,” said Muldoon. “We want to create a culture of safety throughout the recreational boating community. Members of the council and its strategic planning subcommittee, ably led by Fred Messmann, have dedicated countless hours to this effort and they deserve enormous credit. We’re taking a sound approach that will result in reduced fatalities and injuries of the boating public.”

During his 15 years with the council, Muldoon has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advancing boating safety initiatives. He has not only served the council, he has by served the boating public.

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  • Richard Jepsen

    James Muldoon is one of the best things to happen to boating safety in the last 50 years.