New business offers "roadside assistance" to boaters - WSMV Channel 4

New business offers "roadside assistance" to boaters

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – Nothing can ruin a fun day on the water than having an unexpected engine failure, running aground, a dead battery, or running out of fuel in your boat.

Recreational boaters and anglers no longer have to worry about being stranded while on the water thanks to a new on the water towing service here in the Chattanooga area.

Capt. Shane O'Neal has opened TowBoatUS Chickamauga Lake, an on-the-water towing and assistance company that recreational boaters can call to get reliable on-the-water assistance day or night.  Battery jump starts, fuel drop offs, ungrounding services and tows back to a launch ramp are some common requests.

TowBoatUS Lake Chickamauga is located at mile marker 477 at Island Cove Marina, and the port's service area includes the Tennessee River 50 miles north and south of the marker.  Stationed at the port is a 26-foot center console response boat loaded with a full complement of towing and salvage equipment including extra fuel, engine fluids, pumps, dive gear and a battery "jump pack" to handle dead batteries.  The vessel can be identified by its distinctive red hull, white bow stripes and "TowBoatU.S." lettering along its sides.

It is the third TowBoatUS towing port on the Tennessee River, joining TowBoatUS Scottsboro, AL, and TowBoatUS Pickwick Dam, TN.  It also joins a nationwide fleet of over 600 towing assistance vessels.

The USCG-licensed O'Neal was raised in Chattanooga and is also a firefighter for the Catoosa County Fire Department. He says the biggest reason boaters and anglers call for assistance is for help getting off shallow sand bars.  "Outside the buoy markers and secondary channels there's only a foot or two of water," said O'Neal. Striking submerged logs is also common, "Especially at night," adds O'Neal. The collisions can disable and sometimes shear off drive gear or props, leaving a boat disabled with no way to get back to the launch ramp.

BoatUS offers an "Unlimited" on-the-water towing plan for freshwater boaters for just $53 a year, which includes BoatU.S. membership.  Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that nationally average about $600 per incident.  Boaters in need of towing assistance can reach TowBoatUS Chickamauga Lake by calling the company directly at 423-326-9768; by VHF radio on channel 16; or through the BoatUS toll-free Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869.

Visit for more information.

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