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Pilot boat captain moves back home and is now the new owner of TowBoatUS Lake Allatoona

by Scott Croft 27 Mar 12:18 PDT
(R) Capt. Christopher Day, new owner of TowBoatUS Lake Allatoona with his wife, Monique, aboard one of the company's response vessels. © Scott Croft

As a pilot boat captain for the Georgia Coastal Pilots, he used to run pilots out to ships entering the Port of Savannah. Now Capt. Christopher Day, a 2003 Cass High School graduate, is back home on Lake Allatoona running recreational boaters safely home after their boats break down or run aground.

Day has managed the 24-hour on-water towing service TowBoatUS Lake Allatoona since last summer but recently finalized the purchase of the local business from Capt. Eric Williams.

The location, which has been on the lake since 2010, is a part of a network of more than 600 TowBoatUS locations across the nation that provide on-water assistance including towing, battery jumps, 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.

After an 11-year stint in law enforcement, Day looked to the sea for a new career and found it with the Georgia Coastal Pilots in 2015. After spending just two months as a mate, he was quickly promoted to pilot boat captain, shuttling pilots out and back in all kinds of weather.

When a family emergency necessitated a move back to Bartow County two years ago, Day started a local houseboat captain training business to meet the needs of the lake's huge houseboat community. "Folks would buy a $100,000 houseboat, but without boating experience, they weren't confident to leave their slips. I wanted to show them how to enjoy their boats." Soon after, he began working for Capt. Williams, who is also owner of Holiday Harbor Marina and Resort where TowBoatUS Lake Allatoona is located.

The towboat business is thriving, says Capt. Day, who some boaters may recognize as the man at the helm of the red TowBoatUS vessel who last summer often hung out at popular raft-up spots such as Flamingo Cove and Illinois Creek, utilizing an aerial drone to drop TowBoatUS beach balls and other promotional items directly into rafted-up boats. These locations are also where boaters sometimes have trouble, running down batteries or getting entangled in anchor lines.

As a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed waterway, Lake Allatoona boaters also are challenged by fluctuating water levels. "Right now, we are 11-feet above pool," says Day, "But it goes up and down all season." A small unnamed island actually a shoal connected to the mainland near Harbor Town is notorious for snagging boats, so Day, who holds a U.S. Coast Guard Masters license, cautions boaters to be vigilant. If they do need help, boaters can use the free BoatUS App to summon on-water assistance, which can greatly speed response times.

Stationed at Holiday Harbor is a fleet of three response vessels from 21 to 27 feet, and Day says he's looking to add a second location this summer to speed response times on the 12,000-acre lake. All towboats 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 Allatoona by hailing on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 770-881-1123, 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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