TowBoatUS captains are standing by all around the country to help boaters in their times of need. They not only tow boats, but perform a wide variety of other tasks to get boaters out of trouble or back underway.
David LaMontange was the creator of Vessel Assist and is based in Newport, California where he and his team assist boaters in need. David created and operated his Vessel Assist Company from 1985 to 2003 when the company was acquired by BoatUS.
BoatUS continued to use the Vessel Assist name on the west coast until 2015 when they transitioned all Vessel Assist companies to the TowBoatUS brand to match the rest of the nationwide fleet.
TowBoatUS Newport currently operates two boats, a 32’ twin turbo diesel Shamrock and a single diesel 20’ center console Seaway. Both are perfectly suited for a wide variety of tasks and are standing by twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to assist TowBoatUS members and the public too.
“We respond to calls daily during the week and normally many more on the weekends. Eighty percent of our work is towing, while twenty percent consists of assistance, salvage and other miscellaneous help for boaters”, David said.
“We also offer assistance in the form of jump starts, delivery of fuel, parts, and pump outs. We can do full-service salvage and recovery of boats and items lost overboard.”
TowBoatUS can help boaters with prop clearing and pulling boats off sandbars, or out the surf line. TowBoatUS is also active during water-based events and patrols or shuttle passengers when needed. David’s operation even works the start for the annual Newport to Ensenada sailboat race; providing a photographer a very close up view of the start.
They offer members and the public Their full support and abilities on the water.
On The Front Line
Captain Ben Scanlan is the General Manager and primary operator of Newport Beach TowBoatUS. He talks about a few of the more memorable experiences while working for TowBoatUS.
“Just this year we had a crazy day I won’t soon forget. It was January 31, 2016! I had just hired a new captain and it was his first training day. We had sustained winds of 45 knots in the harbor, and gust to 65 all day! Not a common occurrence in Newport Beach. While we were delivering kayaks and paddleboards that had blown off docks and boats throughout the harbor to the local harbor patrol dock, a 42-foot sailboat broke free from its mooring and was “Ghost Riding” through the mooring field. I didn’t see it until the Harbormaster alerted me that it was about to T-bone the Harbor Patrol boat at the dock!
I quickly positioned my vessel between the two boats and deflected the sailboat from a certain collision.
Then the fun started! I had to try and control the sailboat on my port bow and teach my new captain how to side-tie a boat in those conditions! We managed to get it tied off and moved out into more open water in the harbor. Then we moved it to a vacant dock and tied it off the best we could. When we returned the next morning the sailboat had broken all of our lines and went ashore unharmed. The mariner and Harbor Patrol were very thankful for our efforts. And my new captain learned WAY more than either of us expected that day.
We also work the very popular Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade. People go all out decorating their waterfront homes and boats. It is really busy on the water with boats of all sizes and of course it is dark.
One night a small boat requested assistance to clear his prop because he had dodged the parade boats and drove right through a mooring field. I got in the water and got him untangled. I instructed him which way to go to get in the clear, but of course he took off the opposite way and minutes later he called again for a second prop clearing.” said Capt. Ben.
Sometimes I just have to shake my head.
Capt. Ben has been assisting boaters his entire life, so its second nature for him to drop and go at any given time or get out of bed in the middle of the night. “I once got a call while on vacation in Europe to manage a salvage case. It was 2 AM when I got the call and we worked it all out; typical vacation.”, Ben recounted.
Ben went on to say, “But it is all worth it to see the wave of relief come over a mariner’s face when you pull up to rescue them. I also get a sense of personal satisfaction from beating my projected ETA!”
Ben recommends boaters to be prepared with a radio, GPS and all the basic safety gear and know how to use it all. He also talked of the importance of getting a membership for boat assistance in the local area where you spend the most time on the water.
TowBoatUS operates 600 vessels servicing 300 ports all around the country. There are many other services provided with a BoatUS membership so check out their website to learn more. Its good to have them on your side when you’re on the water.
Photo Credit – TowBoat US Newport Beach, CA Facebook