DECATUR, AL., May 15, 2014 -- Captain Joel Jenkins, who, along with his wife Elizabeth, own and operate Jay Landings Marina on Lake Wheeler in Decatur, AL, has been in the boating business since 1974, working on manufacturing, surveying and marina operation.
Awhile back he thought about basing a TowBoatUS
business at his marina, but duty took him elsewhere. “I’ve been in the Army Reserve for over 20 years,” said Jenkins, “And someone else opened the business while I was in Iraq. I told BoatUS I wanted to get in line in case the other operator gave it up.” And that’s what happened later while Jenkins was in Afghanistan. “When I came back, I heard the opportunity was there, and I jumped on it.”
Joel and Elizabeth Jenkins began operating TowBoatUS Lake Wheeler and Lake Wilson this spring. That means boaters who travel and fish on the lakes can count on 24/7 on the water towing to help them if they run aground, have a mechanical breakdown, need a battery jump start or run out of fuel.
Next week over 350 Collegiate anglers will descend on Lake Wilson and nearby Lake Pickwick for the BoatUS Collegiate Bass Fishing Championship, and will have the back up they need with Jenkins’ supporting to the young anglers. Each morning TowBoatUS will lead the fleet out at first light, and will provide towing services for broken down boats. The service has been known to get boats back in time for weigh-in.
Much like an auto club for boaters, TowBoatUS offers on the water towing plans for freshwater boaters and anglers for only $67 a year which includes BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that nationally average $600 per incident.
Jay Landings Marina has been a family-run business from the beginning, and Jenkins’ TowBoatUS business will be just the same. Joel, who holds a US Coast Guard captain’s license, and Elizabeth, an accomplished SCUBA instructor and diver, met in college, and they love the water. They have raised their children, 19-year-old Caroline and 16-year-old Reid, to be water rats as well. Caroline will get her USCG captain’s license this summer, and Reid will follow when he reaches the required age. Both will help with the business along with another licensed captain.
TowBoatUS Lakes Wheeler and Wilson has two boats, a 19-foot custom aluminum center-console trailer boat with a 200-horsepower outboard and a 24-foot Wellcraft with a 220-horsepower inboard/outboard that will be docked at Jay Landings Marina. Both are painted a distinctive red with “TowBoatUS” in white letters on the hull and are fully rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel.
Since Lake Wheeler is 60 miles long and Lake Wilson is downstream of that, it will often be more efficient and faster to get to some locations with a trailer boat. The lakes are part of the Tennessee River system, and commercial vessels, Loopers (boaters circling the eastern half of North America) and local recreational boaters keep them extremely busy. “The fishing is great,” Jenkins said, and thousands of bass boats visit for tournaments; “In case of a breakdown, we’ll be there to tow them back to the dock in time for weigh-in.”
Boaters can contact TowBoatUS Lakes Wheeler and Wilson by hailing on VHF channel 16, calling the company directly at 954-372-6281 or calling the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869. Assistance can also be summoned via smartphone with the free BoatUS Towing App, and BoatUS is also the only towing service that offers satellite messaging services with the SPOT and inReach satellite communications services. To see the company’s location on a map, go to www.BoatUS.com/wheelerwilsonlake.
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. For more information go to www.BoatUS.com/towing
or call 800-888-4869.