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New Owner Takes the Helm at TowBoatUS Swansboro, North Carolina

Photo Caption: Capt. Lee Sykes and his wife, Kristin, helps with the on water towing business, which has grown to seven locations.
Download hi-res photo.
SWANSBORO, NC, May 21, 2013 — Lee Sykes, a veteran TowBoatUS captain who is so committed to serving North Carolina boaters that he runs springtime boater education courses for his customers, is the new owner of TowBoatUS Swansboro, NC. It’s a kind of a homecoming for Sykes as the business, which provides towing and ungrounding services to recreational boaters 24/7 and is located on the Atlantic coast about 25 miles south of Beaufort, NC, is where Sykes began his TowBoatUS career seven years ago as a hired captain.
In addition to Beaufort and Swansboro, Sykes operates TowBoatUS services on five North Carolina lakes. “Our mission is to provide North Carolina boaters with the best possible on water towing and assistance service,” he said. When Swansboro’s previous owner started thinking about retiring, “he called us first,” said Sykes, who holds a USCG captain’s license. “He knew the work we were doing in Beaufort and thought it would be a good fit.” Sykes thought so too, and Swansboro became his seventh TowBoatUS port in North Carolina.
Much like an auto club for recreational boaters, TowBoatUS, a membership program of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), offers an on water towing plan for salt waters that costs just $149 a year that includes BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. Freshwater (only) towing plans for inland lakes and rivers are $67 annually and also include membership. Without a towing plan, boaters face out-of-pocket costs that nationally average about $600 per incident, or about $250 per hour.
Sykes manages a staff of five full-time and 14 part-time USCG licensed captains who operate his assistance boats, and also helms the vessels himself. “I love being on the water, and I love helping people,” said Sykes, who served as a firefighter, EMT and fishing boat captain before working with TowBoatUS. While his focus is providing routine assistance, he has been honored with two TowBoatUS awards for heroic rescues and he likes teaching boaters how to avoid the mistakes that might put them in danger. “We don’t give a standard boating safety course,” he said. “We teach boaters about the problems we see when we go out to give assistance.”
“We get the most calls around Swansboro for grounded vessels,” he said. “People forget we have a tide, and they wander out of the channel into shallow areas.” He also gets calls for breakdowns, fuel issues and battery jumps. The company is also a full hazmat-certified spill response company.
The TowBoatUS Swansboro fleet, which is based at Casper’s Marina, includes a 25-foot Boston Whaler Frontier with twin 200-hp Honda engines and a 21-foot Boston Whaler Impact with a 225-hp Honda outboard. They are painted a distinctive red with “TowBoatUS “ on the hull, and they are fully rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel.  
Boaters can contact TowBoatUS Swansboro by hailing on VHF channel 16, calling 252-728-5088, via smartphone with the free BoatUS Towing App, or calling the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869. To see the location on a map, go to The company is part of BoatUS Towing Services with over 300 locations nationwide. For more information, go to or call 800-888-4869.
About BoatUS Towing Services:
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with a wide array of consumer services, including on water towing assistance provided by TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist. Combined, these two towing fleets offer boaters, anglers and sailors the world’s largest network of towing ports with over 300 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels — three times larger than the closest competitor.