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TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake has new owner

by Scott Croft 19 Apr 13:41 PDT
Terry Russeau, new owner of TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake, aboard his 24-hour on-water assistance company's response vessel © Scott Croft

On Lewis Smith Lake when a boat breaks down, runs aground, runs out of fuel, or needs a tow back to the dock, TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake is ready 24-hours a day to help. The new owner of the on-water towing and assistance service, Terry Russeau, found his way to the boat towing business as a way to stay close to the water after retirement. But what really drew him to this line of work, he says, was his desire to help others in need.

"I've been a boater my whole life," said Russeau. "I know what it feels like to be stranded on the water, and it's not fun when you don't have reliable help to call. I just really love this area, and I'm looking forward to being there for boaters."

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.

Russeau moved from Ohio seeking a life closer to the water. Before purchasing TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake last month, he worked side-by-side for a year with the previous owner, Capt. Chad Gilliland. "I've been fortunate to learn from an expert," said Russeau. The two plan to continue working together along with three part-time captains to service boaters in the area.

Running out of fuel, mechanical or electrical issues, or running aground are common problems for boaters on the lake, according to Russeau. "Lewis Smith Lake draws a huge fishing community and is a popular destination for some of the largest bass fishing tournaments in the country, including the Bassmaster Classic," he said. "Even the most seasoned of boaters and anglers can get caught off guard by fluctuating water levels or mechanical issues. That's why we're here to assist in those unexpected instances."

TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake operates a 24-foot Parker response vessel that's rigged and ready for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery and soft ungroundings any time of day or night. The boat is located at Trident Marina in Crane Hill and is easily recognizable by its red hull with TowBoatUS logos emblazoned in bright white letters on each side. The company also offers salvage and recovery services. Russeau is looking to add a second vessel his towboat fleet to meet increasing demand.

Boaters can reach TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake by hailing on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 256-385-1966, by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, or via smartphone using the new BoatUS App. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/Towing, or by calling 800-888-4869.

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