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Capt. Seth Owens, new owner of TowBoatUS Lake Hartwell, sees opportunity to grow

by Scott Croft 17 Apr 2019 06:14 PDT
Capt. Seth Owens, new owner of TowBoatUS Lake Hartwell, South Carolina aboard his 24/7 response vessel. © Scott Croft

Capt. Seth Owens first came to Lake Hartwell in the 1970s as a guest of his grandparents. Since then, he's enjoyed the lake with his family and guided fishing clients.

Eventually he took the position of lead hired captain for TowBoatUS Lake Hartwell, a 24/7 on-water assistance service for boaters. After purchasing the location from Capt. Wade Cline, Owens now embarks on a new role as owner of the company that's been on the lake since 2000. The location is a part of a network of more than 600 TowBoatUS locations across the nation that provide on-water assistance including towing, battery jumps, soft ungroundings and fuel drop offs.

Much like an auto club for boaters, BoatUS offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $85 per year. Boaters without BoatUS towing services face costs that average $750 per towing incident, with some paying into the thousands out of pocket.

Owens, who is licensed by the U.S Coast Guard, has grown into several roles with the company over the years, including becoming the maintenance foreman and scheduler. He also has logged hundreds of hours getting boaters safely home.

"I hear people say they have neighbors who can come get them if they break down or run aground on the lake," said Owens. "But it may be dark, and you don't have to feel bad for interrupting their dinner. Call us and you'll get swift, professional assistance." Using the free BoatUS App to summon on-water assistance often speeds response times.

A common challenge for Lake Hartwell boaters is fluctuating water levels. "Sometimes what was navigable a little while ago, isn't today," added Owens. "It can drop 6 feet in very short period of time. We get quite a few calls for ungrounding services."

The company operates a fleet of three response vessels from 21 to 27 feet out of Coneross Creek, Harbor Light Marina and Tugaloo River. All are easily recognizable by their red hulls with the TowBoatUS logo emblazoned in bright white letters on their hull sides. Each boat is rigged for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery, and soft ungroundings. The company also offers salvage and recovery services.

Boaters can reach TowBoatUS Lake Hartwell by hailing on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 864-909-7388, by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, or via smartphone using the BoatUS App. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/Towing or call 800-888-4869.

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