Boat donated by Bentley Pontoons, Yamaha Rightwaters, and the S.C. Boating and Fishing Alliance will aid in offshore smart reef development

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette and Senator Thomas Alexander joined Dr. Tom Mullikin and officials with Bentley Pontoons, Yamaha Rightwaters, and the S.C. Boating and Fishing Alliance for a gift presentation of a tritoon boat specifically designed to deliver and recover SCUBA divers and their equipment during offshore work. The presentation was made at the Stone River Event Venue on the West Columbia side of the Congaree River, Thursday, April 21.

“This boat will significantly aid in our oceangoing work developing a smart reef system off South Carolina as well as related dive operations all aimed at protecting the Palmetto State’s shores and coastal regions from rising sea levels and subsequent inland flooding,” said Dr. Mullikin, who founded the recipient organization Global Eco Adventures (GEA) in 2014. “This is what GEA does. This is what we are all about, and our friends and partners at Bentley Pontoons, Yamaha Rightwaters, and the SCBFA recognize this: Today in a tangibly generous way.”

At a cost of over $100,000, the Bentley tritoon – a three-tube hull instead of the traditional twin-tube pontoon – features frames for up to 12 SCUBA tanks and a 200-horsepower Yamaha motor.

“These kinds of partnerships that we see time-and-again between hard-working South Carolinians who sincerely care about their state do not simply develop overnight,” said Senator Alexander, president of the S.C. Senate. “What we are seeing here today is a reflection of mutual giving spurred by others who are also giving over time. As the former chair of the Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee; I want to say thank you to all involved here today.”

Among those gathered for the boat presentation were Ryan Marcott, president of Bentley Pontoons; John O’Keefe, government relations specialist with Yamaha Rightwaters; and Gettys Brannon, CEO of the S.C. Boating and Fishing Alliance, Thomas Mullikin Jr., president of GEA and son of the founder; local Boy Scouts and others, many gathering at Stone River for the annual GEA Eco Ball which took place later in the evening.

“The S.C. Boating and Fishing Alliance is proud to be a part of this ongoing effort to protect our environment, our waterways, wetlands, and coastal areas,” said Brannon. “This boat will serve as a means by which we continue to drive that effort. It will assist in the proactive work of GEA as well as training new divers for offshore work.”

Lt. Governor Evette said: “This is a direct result of the vision of Tom Mullikin Sr., a true warrior for our state. Tom is one who has always been able to identify a problem and determine a solution to the problem through communication, cooperation, and collaboration. That’s what we see here today.”

Mullikin added: “I can’t take credit for today. My only heartfelt response is gratitude and a sense that this – what these two companies and the alliance have presented GEA and the state as the beneficiaries of our work – is truly giving when it matters.”

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, GEA was established to create awareness of environmental sustainability through education of protected areas that are considered natural phenomena with exceptional aesthetic importance and fragile ecosystems for future generations.