Friday, January 28, 2022

America’s Boating Club Pays It Forward

Pay it forward! That would have made a great motto for the founding members of the “Marco Island Power Squadron” forty years ago when starting what this year has become known as “America’s Boating Club – Marco Island.”

The Club’s current members celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Marco Island Squadron’s founding at a dinner dance at Hideaway Beach.

Why “Pay it forward?” Because 47 of the 66 Founding Members of the Squadron had achieved advanced education “grades” in recognition of their training by the United States Power Squadrons (USPS) prior to the issuance of the Marco Squadron’s USPS Charter.

These avid mariners had come from USPS Squadrons from Long Island Sound, the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and other waters and were already accomplished boaters, yet they committed themselves to launching a Squadron here and gave their time and resources to start an organization whose mission was and is to teach boating knowledge and skills to make boating safe and fun.

The Marco Island organization:

  • Teaches boating courses and seminars at its Learning Center to help boaters develop boating skills and knowledge;
  • Conducts free Vessel Safety Checks to help boat owners keep their boats properly equipped and in good working condition;
  • Surveys markers and aids to navigation and reports on their condition to the governments with responsibility for their installation and maintenance;
  • Organizes cruises and boat outings to provide members with knowledge of the local waters and practical boating experience; and,
  • Holds meetings and social events to educate members and create a social, collegial and engaged community of boaters.

The Marco group started as a “Division” of the Naples Power Squadron, but as Marco Island developed and grew it became important to create a Squadron focused on this part of Southwest Florida. In 1978, its first courses were held at Tommy Barfield School and its first boat outing was a picnic to the channel behind Coconut Island.

Today the Club operates its own Learning Center at 1114 North Collier Boulevard, Marco Island and plans at least two boating events each month in addition to an active meeting and social calendar.

“The Celebration of this 40-year milestone is to recognize and thank all the people who created our Club and served the cause of safer boating on Marco Island,” said Gene Burson, Commander of the Marco Squadron. “Thousands of people have learned to be better, more skilled and more confident boaters thanks to our Founders and members over the last four decades,” Burson said. He added, “Tonight we re-dedicate ourselves to ‘Paying it Forward’ for the benefit of future boaters in our part of paradise.” 

For information about Membership call Peggy Reiss at 239-213-8686. For a free Vessel Safety Check call John Salotto at 703-864-5528. For information about courses and registration call Tom Ryan at 239-887-1556. Additional information is available at

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