As the longtime operator of two busy TowBoatUS locations – Jupiter and Palm Beach Florida – Captain Chris Shaffner has been assisting boaters along Florida’s Gold Coast for more than 10 years. This year he has expanded his business southward by taking command of TowBoatUS Boynton Beach.
Shaffner will now have towboats situated near three busy inlets – Boynton, Lake Worth and Jupiter. With the inlets just 12 miles apart, the expansion means his company will be able to offer faster and better service to boaters who have a breakdown, run aground, need fuel or a jumpstart.
“I love this work,” said the 37-year-old Shaffner. “I grew up in Florida, and all I have ever done is work on boats. I like the day-to-day challenges. Every job is different; every person is different.”
Much like an auto club for recreational boaters, TowBoatUS, a program of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), offers an on-the-water towing service plan that costs just $149 a year, which includes BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. Without a towing plan, boaters face out-of-pocket costs that nationally average about $600 per incident, or $250 per hour.
With a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week schedule, Shaffner’s towing business is so busy that he employs several US Coast Guard licensed captains and operates five boats, all rigid-hull inflatables ranging in size from 24 to 36 feet and all with powerful outboard engines that can propel them at speeds up to 60 mph. The boats, which are similar to those used by some law enforcement agencies, are ideally suited for work in inlets and rough seas. They are painted a distinctive red color and carry the “TowBoatUS ” trademark. Fully rigged for towing and salvage work, they carry powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel.
Boaters can contact TowBoatUS Palm Beach/Jupiter/Boynton Beach by hailing “TowBoatUS” on VHF channel 16, calling 561-391-1525, or calling the BoatUS toll-free Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869. A 24-foot RIB with twin 175-horsepower outboards will be stationed at the Palm Beach Yacht Center in Boynton Beach. To see the location on a map go to www.BoatUS.com/boyntonbeach. The company provides service on the Intracoastal Waterway and up to 100 miles offshore.