FORT LOUDON/TELLICO LAKE, Tenn., April 3, 2012 — Capt. Jeff Walters has spent most of his life boating and fishing in the lakes of the Tennessee River system. “Boating has always been my pleasure activity,” the 69-year-old mechanical engineer said, “so when I retired from industry, I decided to make boating my second career.”
Walters, a US Coast Guard-licensed captain who started Tennessee River Towing and Salvage as a part-time enterprise several years ago, joined the nationwide TowBoatUS towing program last fall, with the opening of TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake. Now he and his towboat are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help boaters, sailors and anglers get safely home whenever they have trouble on the water. “Joining up with BoatUS means I can offer boaters on Tellico and Fort Loudon Lakes better and more affordable service,” Walters said.
Much like an auto club for boaters, TowBoatUS offers on-the-water towing plans
for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $58 a year
, which includes BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. “It’s really a bargain,” Walters said. “Without a membership, boaters pay $200 per hour for a towboat when their boats break down around here.” The national average for out-of-pocket costs is $600 per incident.
When it comes to helping other boaters, Walters is a pro. He joined the Coast Guard right after college and spent six years as a small boat captain doing harbor patrols and search-and-rescue work, plus one tour of duty on an icebreaker. While he doesn’t expect to see any ice on the Tennessee lakes and is not an emergency rescue service, his other Coast Guard experiences will come in handy when he heads out for an assist.
His boat, a 21-foot Stratos with a 225-horsepower Mercury outboard, is fully equipped for most any kind of boater assistance, with a big aluminum towing bit, state-of-the-art electronics, dewatering pumps, extra fuel and two “jump packs” to handle dead batteries. It is easy to recognize with its distinctive red hull, white bow stripes, and “TowBoatUS” lettering along its side. Home base is at mile marker 603 on the Tennessee River at Fort Loudon Marina in Lenoir City.
This new TowBoatUS port will provide service to boaters on Fort Loudon Lake from Knoxville to Fort Loudon Dam, all of Tellico Lake and the northernmost 20 miles of Watts Bar Lake south of Fort Loudon Dam. These lakes are popular bass fishing and recreational boating waters, filled with all kinds of boats from personal watercraft, to fishing boats, sailboats, 35-foot cruisers and even a few houseboats.
Boaters can contact TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake by calling 865-399-2290, calling the BoatUS toll-free Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869, or hailing on VHF 16. To see the location on a map, go to www.BoatUS.com/ftloudontellicolake
TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake is part of the world’s largest boat towing program with over 600 towboats servicing hundreds of ports and waterways. Towing 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.