The on the water towing business is growing for Capt. Shane O’Neal, who owns TowBoatUS locations in Tennessee and Alabama and has now purchased two more locations, TowBoatUS Panama City and TowBoatUS Destin, Florida. O’Neal’s recreational boat towing operations are part of a nationwide 24/7 non-emergency on water assistance service, TowBoatUS, that provides tows back to a launch ramp or marina or dock, as well as battery jumps, fuel drop off and ungrounding services.
O’Neal, a former Georgia firefighter who once got stuck on the water with his family when his own boat broke down, began towing other folk’s boats on Tennessee’s Chickamauga Lake in 2008. “A lot of people think they can call a family member or friend to come get them anytime they break down, but I know from experience that it often doesn’t work out that way.” O’Neal’s eight TowBoatUS locations, the most for any single TowBoatUS company, are part of the nationwide TowBoatUS fleet of over 300 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels.
TowBoatUS’ on the water towing plans for saltwater boaters and anglers is just $149 a year and includes 24/7 on water assistance as well as BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that average $600 per incident nationally. Destin, which calls itself “The Luckiest Fishing Village”, makes claim to having the largest fishing vessel fleet in Florida. O’Neal says area anglers who sign up for BoatUS Angler membership with a towing plan have entry in the tournament cash program, “Weigh to Win,” which pays the highest BoatUS Angler finisher at over 200 B.A.S.S., FLW, LBAA, College Bass or PAA events.
Stationed at TowBoatUS Panama City is 30-foot response boat while TowBoatUS Destin has both 25- and 31-foot response vessels. All have distinctive red hulls and white “TowBoatUS” along their sides, and are fully rigged for towing and salvage work, carrying extra fuel and engine fluids, pumps, dive gear and battery “jump packs.”
Boaters can contact TowBoatUS Panama City and TowBoatUS Destin at 850-865-5672. Or, both locations can hailed on VHF channel 16, by calling the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869 and via smartphone with the free BoatUS Towing App. BoatUS is also the only towing service that offers satellite messaging services with the SPOT and inReach satellite communications services. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-888-4869.
Image courtesy TowBoatUSA