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February 27th 2013. By John Burnham.

Dusty McCoy Interview: Talking YachtWorld Heroes

Editorial Director John Burnham interviewed Dusty McCoy at the opening of the Miami Boat Show.

Early in the morning, our video team met Dusty McCoy at the Miami Convention Center aboard the new Sea Ray 370 Venture. In this interview, I asked him about how he started out in boats, about his safety training, and about the safety values of the partnership he has promoted between the U.S. Power Squadron and Brunswick Corp. boat dealers. I also wrote a blog for YachtWorld’s sister site, later that day (“Dusty McCoy of Brunswick is Recognized as a YachtWorld Hero“). – John Burnham

John Burnham: I read that you started boating as a kid. I’m curious what kind of safety training you had when you were starting out.

Dusty McCoy: Not enough. I tell my father who’s now 88 that he must not have loved me the way he got me started in boating. We lived on a farm in Kentucky that had a small river that flowed as one of our farm boundaries. My dad and I built a boat when I was about 10 years old, out of marine plywood and cedar. And then in order to make sure it floated well we painted it with swimming pool paint, bright blue. It really stood out on this little river, and everybody knew it was my boat.

To be honest I didn’t even wear a life vest. Ten years old, I ran around that river in floods, normal times, and everything.

JB: That was before wearing a life vest was very common.

DM: But I had a couple of close calls. And I always remember when i got out of those close calls, I’d think “I’ve gotta do something different.”

Editorial Director John Burnham and Brunswick CEO Dusty McCoy share a smile at the opening of the Miami Boat Show.

JB: So we’re here at the Boat Show, and this morning you’re going to be honored for helping start a partnership between Brunswick and the Power Squadron, connecting your dealers as hosts of USPS courses. What’s the payoff?

DM: Well frankly there are two. One, there’s a busines payoff. It’ll be good for our dealers to have boaters in the dealerships. And it helps the Power Squadron, which has about 40,000 members, but like many organizations, is always looking for new revenue streams, to have a way to connect with more boaters. So from a business perspective, it’s very good for both the Power Squadron and the dealer network.

But we did ask ourselves another question. How do we give people the skills to boat better, so they can enjoy boating more, and secondly how can we give people the skills to be safer at boating? And we reached a pretty quick conclusion: we need to give people the opportunity to be trained by experienced boaters who are also experienced teachers, and who’ve thought about safety and developing courses. So for us it became just a natural.

We actually approached the Power Squadron before we talked to our dealer network.

Now we’re in the process of marrying up about 1500 boat dealers with around 100 Power Squadron chapters all around the US.

You and I are sitting here in the Miami Boat Show…billions of dollars worth of beautiful product, but ultimately, how does one get involved in boating if they have never boated?

I believe if one walked into this hall and had never boated, one would be overwhelmed.

There’s no real way to learn boating easily. You either learn it from someone who boats or someone who provides courses and training. Our goal is to marry those two.

So it’s a good thing for all of us.

JB: You’re here in Miami to accept a YachtWorld Heroes award on behalf of a diverse group that includes circumnavigators with a cause to documentary film makers. Does this one feel a little bit different?

DM: Yeah it does. I actually feel very humbled by this. The other people receiving this award are really helping society. I wondered whether someone like me who’s running a business really fits in the league with these people. They exhibit service, exchange of knowledge, donation of resources, in a service bent to help the world in a way different from myself.

We’re really really proud of what we’ve done with the Power Squadron and a whole bunch of other things. One of our employees, Dave Marlow, will receive an award for all the work he’s done around standards with ABYC.

Dave is a worldwide expert and is generally recognized as the expert in the boating industry in the US. So when I think of all those people who do all those sorts of things, I’m really humbled to get this award.

JB: Service comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s at sea. Sometimes it’s at your desk,
isn’t it?

DM: I hope so.

Watch Dusty McCoy Interview: Thanks to Innovation, Boating’s just going to get better and better and better on boats.com

John Burnham
John Burnham is a boat owner, leadership coach, marine writer, editor, and champion sailboat racer. He is the former editor of Sailing World, Cruising World, and boats.com.