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Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD

Moving on up: Capt. Shaun Curtis takes ownership of TowBoatUS Mobile, Alabama

by Scott Croft 6 Aug 14:28 PDT
Capt. Shaun Curtis of TowBoaUS Mobile, Alabama © Scott Croft

Raised on a houseboat in a family without a lot of money, Capt. Shaun Curtis initially was unsure of his career path. He began working in the motorcycle industry as a certified technician, but it wasn't until working as a hired captain for TowBoatUS companies in Tennessee and Florida that he found his true calling.

"Once I started helping boaters get safely home on the water, I knew I'd found my forever job," said Curtis. "The work comes natural to me." Five years later, Curtis is the new owner of TowBoatUS Mobile, which provides professional 24/7 on-water towing and assistance to recreational boaters, including towing, soft ungrounding, battery jump and fuel drop-offs.

Curtis says the former company owner, Capt. Don Coleman, from whom he purchased the business, had a lot to do with it. "Don was the best mentor. If it wasn't for him giving me this huge opportunity, I would not be in an ownership position today." Coleman owned the company for 11 years.

The Mobile port is part of a nationwide network of 300-plus locations and more than 600 towing vessels that responded to more than 90,000 requests for routine on-water assistance last year. Much like an auto club for recreational boat owners, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for saltwater boaters and anglers for just $165 per year - which is less expensive and offers more coverage than competitors. Also included are more than 25 BoatUS benefits and discounts, a subscription to BoatUS Magazine, free DSC-VHF radio registration and more.

Curtis says his work in the region ranges from assisting long-distance cruisers, known as "Great Loopers," experiencing engine troubles on the Mobile River to helping local boaters and sailors who sometimes venture too far into the shallows of Mobile Bay. On occasion, he'll run offshore to assist sportfish anglers. Boaters without BoatUS towing services face costs averaging more than $800 per towing incident. "Having an annual Towing Membership can save you a lot of money," says Curtis.

All of the company's captains are U.S. Coast Guard-licensed. Curtis' three red response vessels with "TowBoatUS" emblazoned in white letters along their sides are homeported at Turner Marine just inside the entrance to Dog River.

Separate from routine BoatUS on-water towing services, the company offers boat salvage and spill cleanup services.

The fastest way to request assistance from TowBoatUS Mobile is to download the free BoatUS App, which connects boaters to the closest local towing captain. Additionally, the company can be reached at 251-231-9398, by hailing on VHF channel 16, or by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/Towing or by calling 800-888-4869.

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