Supplier Risk and Recreational Boating

Some sad news regarding the likely loss of three boaters (including 2 NFL players) to a boating/fishing accident off of Clearwater Pass, FL last Sunday brings to mind some life saving lessons we can derive from applying supplier risk management to the upcoming Spring and Summer season of recreational boating (full disclosure: boating and fishing are my life-long leisure time passions and I've logged thousands of hours on the water). According to the above-linked story, "The Coast Guard searched off Florida's Gulf Coast on Sunday for a fishing boat carrying NFL players Corey Smith and Marquis Cooper and two other men missing more than a day in choppy seas." Fortunately, since I originally wrote this piece, at least one of the boaters has been rescued.

Their 21’ open power boat falls into the most popular "Class 1" pleasure boats. It appears that they were caught off guard by sudden rough seas. The US Coast Guard's most recent published statistics for 2007 report "5,191 pleasure boating accidents with 3,673 injuries, 685 fatalities and damages totaling $53,106,491...two thirds of the fatalities drowned and 90% were not wearing life jackets...while only 14% of these deaths occurred on vessels where operators had received boating safety instruction and 75% of boaters who drowned were on vessels 16 to 21 feet long". As I read this story, I could not help but think of some supply risk lessons and parallels.

As world class procurement strategy requires maximum supplier risk visibility, so do our recreational passions. We wouldn't dream of partnering with a supplier without knowing their historical profile including on-time performance, technological savvy, years in operation, management teams and commitment to quality because our risk of doing business with them depends on it. Just so when we trust friends, relatives, charter operators and ourselves in how we spend our recreational time. With boating, nearly 75% of all accidents occur during daylight hours in good weather. This fact mandates that we become intimately familiar with the primary risk factors that can result in tragedy.

For those of you who enjoy boating, be sure to quiz your skipper before boarding and pass on the outing if he or she is not familiar with the knowable risks and does not actively pursue their mitigation. On a "primary contributing boating accident risk factor list from 1 to 10 ('1' being the highest), operator inattention and careless/reckless operation rank 1 and 2 while weather and equipment failure rank 9 and 10 ... 75% of all deaths have occurred on vessels whose operators had not received instruction...[and] alcohol is the leading contributing factor in most fatal boating accidents."

Even if you only boat a few times per year and don't take the helm, take your State's Boating Safety Certification Course. It only costs about 50 bucks and can usually be done on line.

- William Busch, Spend Matters Columnist

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