March 2007

On-The-Water Boat-Towing

On-The-Water Boat-Towing Service Has Increase In Calls For Assistance In 2006

BoatU.S. Towing Services, the nation's largest on-the-water assistance program with 670,000 members, reports that it had over 60,000 requests for assistance in 2006, an increase of 2.5 percent over the previous year.

The requests, including tows back to port, fuel drop-offs, ungroundings and other services, were handled by the organization's 500 TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist tows boats across the country.

Jerry Cardarelli, vice President of BoatU.S. Towing Services, believes that the up tick is a result of greater TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist visibility at the local level. "We added 18 new port locations in 2006 to meet increasing demand," said Cardarelli. "Once we open a port, boaters are more inclined to give us a ring when something goes wrong," he added.

More boaters are also using cell phones to request non-emergency help. "Cell phone calls to our 24-hour call centers increased 4 percent over 2005," said Cardarelli. But, he cautions, "Boaters should still have a VHF radio.

“In an emergency, the first responders most likely to come to your aid will be your fellow boaters - and the best way to reach them is with a VHF radio."

Another potential reason for the increase in cell-phone use, says Cardarelli, is that many boaters prefer not to share routine mishaps such as gently running aground, engine problems, or out-of-fuel situations with the entire world on VHF's public airwaves. TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist towers monitor VHF channel 16 — 24 hours a day,  seven days a week.

BoatU.S. Towing Services — the boat owners’ auto club — offers on-the-water assistance plans starting at $19 a year. Boaters can call (800) 888-4869 or visit for more information.