News & Media

Stay up-to-date on our foundation's latest news and events.


Press Release: Boating Foundation Creating More Confident Consumers

Media Contact: Nichole Kalil M. 305-458-7736 or

Dedicated to Boater SafetyMiami, FL 02/14/2019 – The AustinBlu Foundation, Florida’s recreational boating safety advocate, share their incredible success and hopes for further growth at the 2019 Progressive Miami International Boat Show.

As of this month, the AustinBlu Foundation has funded boating safety classes for over 1,000 students. Classes are about 5 hours and are instructed by USCG Auxiliary members. After students complete the class, the state of Florida issues them a Boater’s ID. In some cases, the ID can be used for discounts on their boater’s insurance. 
The AustinBlu Foundation also passed the first state Beacon Bill which allows boaters who carry a 406MHz emergency beacon onboard an annual discount of 25% off their vessel registration. This incentive should encourage boaters to incorporate the latest safety technology on their list of purchases when equipping their boat. This is the first piece of legislation in history which incentivizes safer boating practices.

The foundation’s latest endeavors have been focused on promoting life jacket use. One of which is their “Make Your Mark” campaign set to launch next month. It is a boating safety concept initiated by the AustinBlu Foundation which encourages boaters to mark their boat name and other important contact information on every life jacket on board; a wise preventative measure should a boating incident occur. The foundation is also raising funds to pay for life jacket loaner stations on commercial properties such as in dining and entertainment marinas.

With two coastlines and year-round boating weather, Florida is known as the ‘boating capital of the U.S’. “There are over 900,000 registered boats just in Florida but unfortunately not even 60% of Florida's boat owners have taken a boating safety class. We wanted to minimize obstacles which may discourage people from taking a class,” expressed Blu Stephanos, Foundation President.

The boating industry is an important part of the state of Florida’s economy with a total economic impact of over $10 billion dollars a year. There are over 5,500 businesses which employ over 55,000 people*. “We want to use our foundation to support and promote this industry that means so much to our home state and its people,” shared Carly Black, Foundation Vice President.

The foundation will continue to advocate for better boating safety practices and incentives, while growing the geographic and demographic reach of their boating safety classes. The foundation would also like to place as many life jacket stations in marinas and restaurants as possible. In order to accomplish these goals, Austin’s parents, Carly and Blu, are encouraging companies and individuals to be part of their wave of creating a safer boating environment through donations and sponsorships. After all, confident boaters quickly transform into customers.

To partner with this cutting-edge foundation to make recreational boating stronger and safer, please contact:



Beacon Bill Wins Enthusiastic House and Senate Approval - NOW PERMANENT!

Posted April 17, 2017

MaryLynn Magar, Colleen Burton, Blu StephanosUPDATE 05/23/2017: Our Beacon Bill was made permanent in legislation passed by Florida lawmakers and signed by Gov. Scott. Under the law, discounted registration fees for boats with a registered EPIRB or PLB have become a permanent option for Florida boaters.

“Just two years ago, we suffered the heartbreaking loss of two teenagers after sailing from the Jupiter Inlet,” Gov. Scott said. “This important legislation encourages the use of safety measures to ensure this kind of tragedy never happens again.”

Click here for details on EPIRB and PLB Incentives.

An extension of the “Beacon Bill” has won unanimous and enthusiastic approval from the Florida House and Senate. House Bill 711 offers Florida boat owners a discounted vessel registration fee if they install and register an EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) on their boat. With this approval, the discount will be extended until the Summer of 2019.

Republican state Rep. MaryLynn Magar of Tequesta said that the goal of the bill is to encourage wide-spread use of devices like EPIRBs which can help lead Coast Guard and other search-and-rescue authorities to the location of boaters in distress.

Speaking before the House Oversight Committee, Austin’s Dad Blu Stephanos said, “This bill means a very lot to me and my family, to the foundation, and to my son, who’s not here. I have put a lot of thought, more than anyone, into what could happen here, and what could make a difference.” He continued, “And the only thing that could have made a difference that day, in my mind, to this day, is having a beacon on the boat.”

Lakeland Republican state Representative Colleen Burton told how her own son, Tim was rescued just this past December. “The reason Tim and his friend Billy were rescued, was because they had a personal locating beacon,” Burton said. “This is real life. It saves lives.”

Thank you Rep. MaryLynn Magar, Sen. Joe Negron and all the members of the Florida House & Senate!

Visit this website for details and eligibility:



Austin’s Dad receives letter from Captain Håvard Melvær of the Norwegian supply vessel, Edda Fjord

Posted March 20, 2017

Captain of the Edda Fjord One year ago the Edda Fjord, a Norwegian offshore supply vessel, found Austin's boat off the coast of Bermuda. On Saturday, the one year anniversary of this event, Håvard Melvær, captain of the vessel, sent Austin’s Father a heartfelt letter. It follows.

“Dear Blu, Today it is one year since we stumbled upon your son’s boat in N 32' 11.65' W061' 51.27 and I just wanted to send a few words on behalf of the crew and I.

Edda Fjord has just returned to its home port for classification and maintenance after finishing a project on a windfarm called GodeWind in Germany. After drydock and other repairs we will head for another similar job in mid April.

The crew on board today only consist of a few of the same persons that were on board one year ago, but we think and talk about the boys, the families and the events on a regular basis. We also follow the great work you do to increase the maritime safety in Florida and we are very impressed.

I think it really does make a difference. We really hope that you are all well and we just want you to know that we are all thinking of you today. We are always here if you need something and if you ever want to visit the vessel you are most welcome.

Yours Sincerely,

Captain Håvard Melvær”

Blu responded,

“Dear Captain Melvær,

It’s great to hear from you, and to hear that you and your fine crew are doing well. It goes without saying that we are eternally grateful for the concern and compassion with which you and the crew of the Edda Fjord helped our family find some degree of closure with the recovery of our Son’s boat. I’m sure that some commercial crews may have seen this as an unwelcome delay, which makes your efforts even that much more commendable.

In our eyes, the care taken and the time spent to return the boat to our family reflects the kindness and humanity, not only of you and your crew, but of all Norwegian People. You are a worthy ambassador for your country.

Thank you for your gracious invitation to tour the Edda Fjord. It is my hope that someday you will visit us here in Florida; know that you are always welcome here with open arms.

Thank you all again for helping us try and heal our broken hearts.

Your friend,

Blu Stephanos”



Austin’s Dad discusses Boater Safety with Governor Scott

Posted January 27, 2017

Blu speaks with Gov. ScottOn Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott visited ACR Electronics in Fort Lauderdale, the latest stop on his tax-cut tour, where he presented his tax-cut plan for Florida business.

Before the presentation, Blu Stephanos, had the opportunity to speak with the Governor on the subject of boater safety and the steps the Foundation is taking to educate Florida boaters on life-saving devices, like EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon). Blu also thanked Governor Scott for his support of the “Beacon Bill” which provides boaters an incentive to use an Emergency Position Indicating by offering a discount on the cost of registration for vessels equipped with a registered EPIRB, or PLB (Personal Location Beacon). ACR Electronics, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of emergency beacons and a founding sponsor of the AustinBlu Foundation.

Of the presentation, Blu said, “It’s great to see a politician out there shaking hands with the people and talking about the real steps they’re taking to keep Florida businesses competitive.” He continued, “On a personal note, I’m grateful that the Governor took some time to speak with me personally, and offer some sincere words of condolence. He’s a good man.”

Gov. Rick Scott challenged state lawmakers to cut taxes by $618 million in the upcoming legislative session. The majority of Scott's tax cuts would come from a 25% reduction in the tax that businesses pay on rent. Florida is the only state that taxes commercial leases. "We've got to keep cutting taxes to make sure companies like ACR can compete," the Governor said.

Later this week, Scott will continue his tax-cut tour with stops in Riviera Beach, Orlando and Fort Myers.



The parents of Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos are doing what they can to raise awareness about boating safety.

By Sanika Dange - WPBF News
JAN, 11, 2017

WPTV Video



Sanika: as the New Year kicks off, the AustinBlu Foundation is looking to get even more involved in the community. They've already had tremendous success here at the river center in Jupiter as they funded boating safely classes. It's a question Carly Black and Blu Stephanos hear often.

Carly Black: Every day.

Sanika: Really?

Blu Stephanos: I don't know, she's more huggable than me.

Carly Black: And I’m not, that's the scary thing.

Sanika: It's been 18 months since their son, Austin, disappeared while on a fishing trip with his friend, Perry Cohen.

Albrey Arrington (Exec. Dir. Loxahatchee River District): Their response isn't, oh it's so terribly for us. Their response has been, how can we turn this into a positive?

Sanika: Both the AustinBlu Foundation and the Perry j. Cohen Foundation are now raising awareness for safe boating, even funding boating safely classes.

Greg Barth (Flotilla 52 Commander): In 2015, we taught about 60students. That’s just this flotilla, and we went to 370 in 2016.

Sanika: Numbers they credit with the legacy left behind by Austin and Perry.

Greg Barth: If i bring them up in class, everything quiets down, still.

Sanika: classes are held once a month at the river center in Jupiter. it's one of the only places locally where you can get your boating safely card after just one eight-hour day instead of multiple shorter day.

Albrey Arrington: My daughter, who is very experienced, came home from the boater safety class and listed off the things that she hadn't known before.

Sanika: Blu Stephanos, who's already been pushing for boater safety legislation, is hoping to focus his attention on the Bahamas this year.

Blu Stephanos: Traveling to the islands and being prepared, you do lose communication. Being able to correlate the connection between the U.S. and the Bahamas is just a better chance for both countries to work together to save lives and make a difference.

Sanika: That legislation is still in its early phases. In the meantime, these are the dates of upcoming boating safely classes funded by the AustinBlu Foundation. And here are the dates of upcoming boating safely classes funded by the Perry J. Cohen foundation. Though recommended for ages 12and up, the coast guard says they welcome any aged children mature enough for the class.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE,  The parents are doing what they can to raise awareness about boating safety.



USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 52 presents the AustinBlu Foundation with a Certificate of Appreciation

Posted October 17, 2016

About Boating SafetyOn Saturday, October 15th at the Loxahatchee River Center, the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 52 presented a “Certificate of Appreciation” to the Austin Blu Foundation in recognition of “the Austin Blu Foundation’s generous financial efforts” in supporting the Auxiliary's safe boating programs.

Austin’s Mother Carly Black accepted the award on behalf of the Austin Blu Foundation saying that the Foundation was grateful for the recognition of their contributions and that their work could not have been accomplished without the determined efforts of organizations like the Loxahatchee River Center and US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 52. She went on to offer her thanks on behalf of the Foundation and promised that the Foundation would continue to work tirelessly in their "efforts to help more people safely experience the majesty, beauty and power of our oceans."

The Austin Blu Foundation is currently committed to funding classes at the Loxahatchee River Center into 2017. These “About Boating Safely” classes qualify students to receive the required Florida Boating Safety Education ID Card.

PDF: Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 52 Press Release

Website: Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 52 website



Florida Boaters Now Eligible for Discount Thanks to the AustinBlu Foundation

Nichole Kalil, Media Specialist at ACR Electronics
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, July 1, 2016

EPIRB DiscountACR Electronics, a Drew Marine company, reminds Florida boaters with proof of a *properly registered 406 MHz emergency beacon that under FL House Bill (HB) 427 they are now eligible for a discount off of their annual DMV boater registration. Governor Rick Scott signed CS/HB 427 this past spring. Discounts vary depending on the size of the owner’s vessel.

Mother Carly Black and father Blu Stephanos committed to remembering their son Austin by promoting safe boating through education and by making maritime emergency technology as accessible as possible. Austin’s parents’ first major milestone was getting legislators to approve the above mentioned discount for boaters. These efforts are being made possible through their establishment of the AustinBlu Foundation of which ACR Electronics is the founding sponsor.

There was a time when high prices were an excuse not to equip a boat with a beacon, but now 406 MHz emergency beacons, such as EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), are priced as low as $380 and Personal Locator Beacons can be priced as low as $269. Both types of beacons offer users the security of a direct link to search and rescue personnel by providing them the user’s exact coordinates for the most efficient rescue possible. For more information on ACR Electronics’ beacons and other safety equipment, go to

As of now, the beacon discount under FL HB 27 is only eligible in Florida and it has only passed for one legislation year. If you want to see this discount continue or establish one in your own state, while also sharing ideas on how to mainstream boater’s safety technology, please contact your House Representative and share your interest.

*To properly register a beacon, one must go to NOAA’s beacon registration site and fill out all the requested fields in relation to the owner’s beacon, boat and emergency contacts.



For the past 60 years ACR Electronics, Inc. a Drew Marine Company has been designing and manufacturing a complete line of safety and survival products. Available products include Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs), Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs), ARTEX Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), Search and Rescue Transponders (SARTs), Strobe Lights, Life Jacket Lights, Boat Search Lights, and other associated safety accessories. ACR’s facility Quality Management System (QMS) is certified by TUV USA and is certified in accordance with AS9100C / ISO 9001:2008 standards. Additionally ACR maintains FAA Part 145 Repair Station Certification status. Recognized as the world’s leader in safety and survival technologies, ACR has provided safety equipment to the marine, outdoor and aviation industries as well as to various worldwide government agencies since the late 1950’s.



Coast Guard Instructors to Teach Free Safe-boating Classes in Boca Raton

By Emily Miller - Sun Sentinel
Posted March 15, 2016

Andrea Rutherfoord, FSO-PE, SO-PAThe AustinBlu Foundation is sponsoring free safe-boating classes in Boca Raton. Classes will be taught once a month by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 36. The first class in Boca is scheduled for Saturday.

The foundation has offered to cover the cost of Flotilla 36's one-day safe-boating class, which normally comes to $35 per student.

"We want people to get trained in boating safety," said Kirsten Stevens, the foundation's administrator. "That's the bottom line."

With 29 certified instructors, Flotilla 36 has been offering classes from more than two decades, said Andrea Rutherfoord, the Flotilla 36 spokeswoman.

"By giving these classes, boaters — both brand-new and even experienced boaters — learn information they just can't pick up by being on the water," Rutherfoord said. "This class has proven successful in providing that in a one-day format."

This is the first year Flotilla 36 is partnering with the AustinBlu Foundation. Rutherfoord said the financial assistance from the foundation will help instructors reach more boaters in the area.

"The students have it free," Rutherfoord said. "They just need to bring a lunch."

The day will culminate in a test, and students can earn a Florida boating ID card, which is required for people 28 years and younger who are operating a boat with 10 or more horsepower in Florida.

For more information on the class or to register for a date, call Flotilla 36 at 561-391-3600 and leave a call-back number, or send an email to

See the full story here: Coast Guard instructors to teach free safe-boating classes in Boca Raton



Bill Inspired by Missing Tequesta Teens Wins Final Approval from State Lawmakers

By John Kennedy – Palm Beach Post
Posted March 9, 2016

Beacon BillFiled in: 2016 bills, legislature, Palm Beach County, State House, State Senate.

The memory of two Tequesta teenagers missing since they sailed out of Jupiter Inlet last summer will live on in legislation approved Wednesday by the Florida Senate and sent to Gov. Rick Scott.

The measure (CS/HB 427) is aimed at encouraging boaters to buy an emergency position indicator radio beacon (EPIRB) or personal locator beacon for their watercraft. Supporters portray the legislation as a legacy for the 14-year-old friends missing since last July.

Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, and Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, who represent the youngsters’ home town, sponsored the legislation. It cleared the Senate on a 39-0 vote and now goes to Scott, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

Magar earlier told the House the measure will “save lives, heartbreak and anguish.”

Source: Bill inspired by missing Tequesta teens wins final approval from state lawmakers



AustinBlu Foundation Making Sure Boaters Get Educated Before They Head Out on the Water

By Katie Johnson WPTV
Posted March 3, 2016

JUPITER, Fla. - The AustinBlu Foundation is helping to make sure boaters get educated before they go out on the water. Throughout the year, the foundation is covering the cost of boating safety courses at the River Center in Jupiter. "Makes you feel good, to do something positive for someone else or help someone else," said Blu Stephanos, father of Austin Stephanos.

Gregory is the flotilla commander with the U.S. Coast Guard in Jupiter. He's expecting between 20-35 students at each course, and said the Coast Guard is offering a course in Spanish at the River Center in April.

"Anybody that's on a boat, that's driving a boat, we want them to understand what's going on. And how to operate the boat safely," Gregory said.

One thing both the Coast Guard and Austin's parents want boaters to invest in is a personal locator beacon (PLB) or an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB).

See the full story here: AustinBlu Foundation Making Sure Boaters Get Educated Before They Head Out on the Water



Tequesta Teen Foundation to Pay for Safe-boating Classes for Youngsters in Jupiter

By Bill DiPaolo - Palm Beach Post
Posted on March 1, 2016

Austin FishingThe parents of Austin Stephanos, one of the two Tequesta teens lost at sea last July, are sponsoring safe boating classes for youngsters in north county.

“I don’t want any other parents to go through what we went through,” said Blu Stephanos, the father of Austin Stephanos. Austin and his friend, both 14, never returned after leaving Jupiter Inlet on July 24 in their 19-foot SeaCraft boat.

The classes, which will be taught by the U.S. Coast Guard, are scheduled to be offered beginning March 12 one Saturday a month at the Loxahatchee River Center in Jupiter.

The day-long classroom instruction ends with a test. Those who pass the test get a Florida Fish and Wildlife Safe Boating Card, which every boater born after Jan. 1, 1988 is required to have, said U.S. Coast Guard Flotilla 52 Commander Gregory Barth.

“It’s a soup-to-nuts class. We go over navigation, how to leave and enter a dock, anchoring, life preservers and the legal aspects of boating,” Barth said. The class, which is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., normally would cost $35. The fees are being paid by the AustinBlu Foundation, said Stephanos.

“Austin would be proud of this. He would want us to protect other kids,” said Carly Black, Austin’s mother.

For information or to register online for the class, go to or call 561-743-7123.

Read the full Palm Beach Post article here: Tequesta teen foundation to pay for safe-boating classes for youngsters in Jupiter


VICTORY! House OKs Boater Safety Bill Motivated by Tequesta Teens Lost at Sea

By John Kennedy - Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
Posted on February 25, 2016

Blu Stephanos Legislation inspired by the tragic loss at sea of two Tequesta teenagers last summer cleared the Florida House Wednesday on a 115-0 vote.

The measure by Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, is aimed at encouraging boaters to buy an emergency position indicator radio beacon (EPIRB) or personal locator beacon for their watercraft.

“It will save lives, heartbreak and anguish,” Magar told the House.

Speaking on the floor, she also thanked the missing teenagers whose lives prompted the effort to improve boater safety. A similar bill by Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is awaiting final action in the Florida Senate. The measures (HB 427, SB 746) have been portrayed as a legacy for the 14-year-old friends. The two were lost after leaving Jupiter Inlet on July 24 in their 19-foot SeaCraft boat.

Blu Stephanos, Austin’s father, came to Tallahassee in November to help Magar and Negron unveil the legislation. At the time, Stephanos said, “I want to protect everyone from having to go through what I’m going through.”

The legislation would give a discount on state vessel registration fees to boaters who register an EPIRB or personal locator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The fees vary by boat size, as would the discounts.

Read the full Palm Beach Post article here: House Oks Boater Safety Bill Motivated by Tequesta Teens Lost at Sea


AustinBlu Foundation, River Center, and Coast Guard Auxiliary “Flotilla 52” Target Youth with Boating Safely Classes

Posted February 19th, 2016

Loxahatchee River CenterJupiter, FL— Last summer the Jupiter/Tequesta community struggled with the devastating loss of Austin Stephanos and his friend. As we anticipate spring break and summer vacation, our minds naturally turn to time spent on the Caribbean-blue waters that make Jupiter such a special place. And the River Center is gearing up to make a difference beginning in March.

Whether heading out on the open ocean for an epic fishing adventure or up the intracoastal for a leisurely cruise, South Floridians enjoy boating. While boating can be fun and relaxing, operating a boat, especially for young people, can be dangerous. Even with boater safety training, the boys still found themselves in a dangerous situation. According to United States Coast Guard statistics, there were over 4,000 watercraft-related accidents in 2014 resulting in millions of dollars of property damage, thousands of injuries, and hundreds of fatalities. In the vast majority of these accidents, the vessel operator had received no boater safety training.

Participating in effective boater safety training is the most significant thing boaters can do to decrease their risk of mishap while on the water. Potential boaters need to understand the dangers of boating in hazardous waters like the Jupiter Inlet, how inclement weather can ruin a good day on the water, why speed kills, the importance of navigation, and the downside of carelessness.

Beginning in March, the Loxahatchee River District’s River Center is collaborating with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary “Flotilla 52” in Jupiter to provide Boating Safely Classes targeted specifically to young boaters in our community. All boaters operating a boat with 10 or more horsepower in Florida (born on or after January 1, 1988) are required to have a Florida Safe Boating Card. The River Center is pleased to announce that these classes are provided through a generous sponsorship by the AustinBlu Foundation, a not-for-profit founded in Austin’s name and dedicated to raising awareness and promoting educational programs to improve boater safety. These classes are offered free and will equip participants with the information they need to successfully maintain safety while on the water. Completion of the class will allow the student to obtain a Florida Safe Boating Card.

Boating Safety Classes taught by Flotilla 52 Members will be offered monthly from March through August at the River Center. These classes will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. on the following Saturdays: March 12, April 23 (taught in Spanish), May 15 (Sunday), June 18, July 23, and August 20. Although there is no cost for the class, a $10.00 deposit per student is required to reserve a seat. This deposit will be refunded in full to all students who complete the class. For more information or to register for a date, please call the River Center at 561-743-7123 or send an email to The River Center is located inside Burt Reynolds Park at 805 N US Highway 1 in Jupiter.

For more information about the River Center, please call 561-743-7123 or visit



A Message to Boaters from Gov. Rick Scott

Posted January 28th, 2016

Florida Governor

Dear Recreational Boater:

As the fishing and boating capital of the world, Florida must always keep in mind the safety and security of those who enjoy our beautiful waterways. It is important that boaters like you are informed about how you can best use technology to stay safe and understand how to react in an emergency on the water.

We already know how important life jackets are to staying safe while on the water. In addition, I encourage you to please explore the safety benefits of equipping your boat or life jackets with a GPS emergency beacon. When Florida residents and visitors experience emergency situations on the water, every minute counts when it comes to protecting lives.

In Florida, we do everything in our power to ensure that our residents and visitors are equipped and educated to be safe boaters. In addition to a life jacket, emergency GPS beacons can help in emergency situations and serve as critical lifesaving tools. A GPS emergency beacon can give first responders accurate and valuable information to improve response time and save lives. To learn more, please visit

The Sunshine State is the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family. I encourage you to review your boating safety plan, and please contact me if you have ideas for how we can make our state even better.



Rick Scott Governor


AustinBlu Foundation Rises From Teenage Boating Tragedy

Posted January 18th, 2016

Passage Maker MagazineExcerpt from an article by Jonathan Cooper.

Two teenagers were lost at sea this summer while fishing out of Jupiter, Florida, the world mourned the loss for both families. Despite the massive search and rescue efforts, the boys were never found.

Following the tragedy, Austin’s parents—Carly Black and William Blu Stephanos—have established the AustinBlu Foundation, a grassroots organization to promote boater safety and technology, like EPIRBS, that can assist search and rescue efforts.

Alongside the family, ACR/ARTEX is offering to donate $10 for every EPIRB sold between the time of printing and the end of December to the foundation’s efforts for raising awareness and legislation.

Full story here: Foundation Rises From Teenage Boating Tragedy


Commissioners Voted Unanimously to Let Legislature Know they Endorse Boater Safety Bills

Posted on December 16, 2015

Blu Stephanos-(photo Eliot-Kleinberg)At Tuesday’s Palm Beach County Commission meeting, a vote to voice support for a proposed state boater safety law got very emotional.

Representative MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, stood alongside Austin’s Dad, Blu Stephanos, at a Palm Beach County Commission meeting as the board voted unanimously to endorse proposed bills intended to enhance boater safety in Florida.

The bills (SB 746, HB 427), sponsored by Senator Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Representative MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta, in their respective chambers, would provide registration discounts of about 25 percent to boaters who have purchased and registered emergency locator devices.

Read the full Palm Beach Post article here: Missing boater’s dad, county board tear up for boater safety vote - By Eliot Kleinberg


Parents of Lost Teen Advocate EPIRB Law

by Jim Flannery
Posted on November 11, 2015

Soundings Magazine CoverThe parents of 14-year-old Austin Blu Stephanos, who was lost at sea with a friend July 24 in a squall off Jupiter, Fla., are working with two Florida lawmakers to introduce a bill that would give boaters an annual 25 percent discount on their boat registration fee if they own a properly registered 406 MHz EPIRB.

“Right now our goal is getting the bill passed,” Austin’s mother, Carly Black, of Tequesta, Fla., said Friday at beacon maker ACR Electronics’ booth at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

Austin’s father, Blu Stephanos, was in Tallahassee Friday, meeting with Sen. Joe Negron and Rep. Marylynn Magar on a bill for the spring session of the Florida legislature.

“We also are working with ACR to educate people about [emergency] beacons,” Black said. “We want to help parents — we want to help anyone — not have to go through what we’ve had to go through.”

Stephanos and Perry Cohen, who also was 14, were the best of friends who often fished and dived and boated together. They went out Jupiter Inlet on July 24 in Austin’s 19-foot outboard to fish on the ocean and were lost, probably in a vicious squall that swept through the area. Rescuers found the boat two days later off Daytona Beach, but not the boys.

The boys were not carrying an emergency beacon.

ACR is donating $10 for every EPIRB it sells through the end of the year to the AustinBlu Foundation, which Stephanos and Black have founded to raise awareness and promote educational programs to improve boater safety, particularly among young people.

“The ocean was the love of [Austin’s] life,” the foundation’s website said. “The lesson of his life is to take every precaution when enjoying the majesty, beauty and power of the oceans.”


MEDIA ADVISORY: “Beacon Bill” Announced

Posted on 28 October 2015

What: Press conference to announce an establishing movement in Florida’s boating industry advocated by the founders of the AustinBlu Foundation, Blu Stephanos and Carly Black.

When: Wednesday, November 4th at 1:30 p.m.

Where: 404 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301 in the Capitol Rotunda.

Why: Senator Joe Negron’s and Representative Marylynn Magar’s worked to create a discount to incentivize boaters on the benefits of 406 MHz beacon carriage. As of July 2016, if passed, every recreational boat owner in Florida, who proves they have a properly registered Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), will receive an annual discount on their boater’s registration.

About The AustinBlu Foundation: The foundation was formed in 2015, in the wake of, Austin, being lost at sea. Austin Blu Stephanos from Jupiter, Florida was 14 years old when he was lost at sea and is the namesake of this foundation created by his loving parents , Blu Stephanos and Carly Black. The foundation is dedicated to raising awareness, providing education, making tools and technology available to boaters; all of which will help prevent near- shore and off-shore boating accidents in Florida. The foundation will also work to ensure more people respectfully and safely experience the majesty, beauty, and power of the ocean.

About 406 MHz Beacons: Since the mid 1980’s 406 MHz beacons have saved approximately 40,000 lives worldwide. To learn more about 406 MHz beacons please visit: They communicate directly to government owned and operated satellites alerting rescue agencies of an incident. Most notably they work in areas where cell phones and vhf radio commonly lose reception.


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