Capt. Shane O’Neal knows what it feels like to be stranded on a lonely stretch of water with a broken boat with no one to call for help. So in 2008, he opened his first TowBoatUS location at Chickamauga Lake, which gives boaters and anglers a reliable way to call for assistance when their boats break down on the water, run out of gas, or run aground.
Just four years later, O’Neal’s operation has just opened its third new location, upstream on Tennessee’s Watts Bar Lake. The opening of TowBoatUS Watts Bar Lake at Euchee Marina in Ten Mile, Tennessee, follows the recent downstream acquisitions of TowBoatUS Scottsboro, Alabama, and TowBoatUS Rogersville, Alabama, and the previous opening of TowBoatUS Nickajack Lake, Tennessee, in 2009. A USCG-licensed Chattanoogan just 34 years old, O’Neal now owns five TowBoatUS ports servicing boaters on the Tennessee River in Tennessee and Alabama. To see the locations on a map, go to www.BoatUS.com/wattsbarlake.
Much like an auto club for boaters, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers an “Unlimited” on-the-water towing service plan for freshwaters that cost just$34 a year plus an additional $24 for BoatUS membership ($58 total annually).
Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that nationally average about $600 per incident. Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that nationally average about $600 per incident.
O’Neal says he opened TowBoatUS Watts Bar Lake to handle the increase in calls and speed response times, as he previously had to trailer his towboats to the lake. Most boaters call for routine assistance such as running out of gas, soft groundings and dead batteries.
“Folks will run their radios all day at Sand Island, then when it’s time to go home their battery isn’t able to start the motor,” said O’Neal. “I can get you safely home 24/7.”
All five locations have response vessels fully rigged for marine towing and salvage work and ready to go at a moment’s notice, including extra fuel, engine fluids, pumps, dive gear and battery "jump packs" to handle dead batteries. They can be identified by their distinctive red hulls, white bow stripes and "TowBoatUS" lettering along their sides.
Recreational boaters, sailors and anglers can call any of O’Neal’s locations 24-hours a day at 423-326-9768, through the BoatUS toll-free Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869, or by hailing on VHF radio channel 16.
All five TowBoatUS locations are part of the country's largest boat towing program, BoatUS Towing Services, with over 600 towboats servicing hundreds of ports and waterways coast to coast. The towing program is just one service offered by BoatUS - Boat Owners Association of The United States - the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its half-million members with government representation, consumer programs and money-saving services. For more information go to www.BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-888-4869.