Please select your home edition
Edition
Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

5 TowBoatUS Captains honored for Lifesaving Acts

by Scott Croft 21 Jan 16:13 PST

TowBoatUS responds more than 90,000 requests from boaters for routine on-water assistance each year - towing, ungroundings, battery jumps and fuel drop-offs. For the captains at the helm of the 600-plus red TowBoatUS response vessels, that means much of their waking day is spent on the water where there's always a chance for more grave trouble.

Five TowBoatUS captains who acted as good Samaritans to save lives and help their communities in 2022 were recently honored by their peers at a ceremony held during the annual BoatUS Towing Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. The captains serve TowBoatUS locations in Key Largo, Florida; Provincetown, Massachusetts; Cleveland, Ohio; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

The Woody Pollak Lifesaving Award:

The on-water towing service's highest honor, The Woody Pollak Lifesaving Award, was bestowed to Capt. Mike Hutchings of TowBoatUS Key Largo, Florida. It's named for the late Capt. Woody Pollak who died on duty and was known for his unselfish acts.

Capt. Mike Hutchings of TowBoatUS Key Largo, Florida

On an August evening in Florida, a BoatUS member reported an unidentifiable, growing smoke condition aboard his 45-foot Hatteras and notified the U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders. His second call was to BoatUS dispatch, who contacted Capt. Mike Hutchings. Upon learning the stricken vessel's GPS coordinates, Hutchings knew they yielded an inaccurate location. Working quickly with dispatch, he was able have the GPS coordinates converted to the correct format, placing the vessel about 3 miles away at Garden Cove on Key Largo. As he approached the cove, Hutchings smelled burning fiberglass and then he saw the smoke, followed by the waving of a dim light. All nine passengers were huddled on the stricken vessel's bow with railings too hot to touch. As the smoke became thicker, Hutchins safely retrieved all before the vessel was completely engulfed just minutes later. All were returned to shore uninjured.

Meritorious Service Awards:

The towing fleet's Meritorious Service Award honors TowBoatUS captains who go above and beyond assisting their boating communities. The four Meritorious Service Awards bestowed for efforts in 2022 include:

Capt. Noah Santos, TowBoatUS Provincetown, Massachusetts

The first day of lobster season could have potentially been the last for a group of four fishermen aboard a 34-foot fishing vessel reported sinking about 2 miles off Race Point on the tip of Cape Cod's most northern end. As the lobster anglers began to lay out all their gear for the day, they noticed water coming in underneath the deck. However, with the deck full of gear, they couldn't access the deck hatches fast enough to find the source of the leak. A mayday call went out. The vessel soon capsized, and the crew found themselves clinging to a life raft in the Atlantic's chilly waters. As Capt. Noah Santos arrived on scene to the now fully submerged vessel, three of the four were in survival suits while the fourth was still attempting to don his suit. Santos swiftly recovered all four men and transported them to shore.

Capt. Rodney Jewett Jr., TowBoatUS Grand Strand, South Carolina

The Worrell 1000 is a race that challenges even the hardiest of sailors. So when two competitors aboard their small open sailing catamaran running from Florida to Virginia broke a rudder in windy conditions off South Carolina - overturning the boat and separating the racers from their vessel - Capt. Rodney Jewett Jr. was there to help. While local responders centered their recovery efforts around the empty boat, which had washed ashore, Jewett had a hunch, taking into account the conditions and figuring that anyone in the water would likely attempt to head for the beach. Steering northward, Jewett soon located the two racers in the water and safely recovered them. After repairs, the team was able to finish the race.

Capt. Jordan Kit, TowBoatUS Cleveland, Ohio

One summer night around 2 a.m., VHF radios on Lake Erie's Cleveland waterfront crackled to life with an urgent message: A recreational vessel with six persons aboard had struck the breakwall near the entrance to Edgewater Yacht Club. TowBoatUS Cleveland homeports at the club, and Kit immediately jumped aboard a towboat and was the first to arrive on scene. With high winds coming off the lake, he worked quickly with arriving U.S. Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor responders to safely take three of the stranded boaters aboard, one with a serious arm injury. He then shuttled them to nearby launch ramp to awaiting EMS responders. The Coast Guard safely removed the other three passengers.

Capt. Eric Lundin, TowBoatUS Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Early on a Saturday afternoon in June, Capt. Eric Lundin heard a VHF mayday call about a vessel sinking near a bridge on the Connecticut River. Arriving at the location just 10 minutes later, he found three men in the swift-moving water, none wearing life jackets, clinging to the hull of an overturned vessel still anchored to the bottom. Water temperatures were in the low 60s, a small-craft warning was in effect and there was strong incoming tide, so Lundin got life jackets to each person as a precaution. After getting them safely aboard and sheltered in the towboat's cabin, Lundin assessed the men, who were showing signs of mild hypothermia, as he swiftly transported them to an awaiting law-enforcement vessel.

Related Articles

TowBoatUS Long Beach earns Tower of the Year Honor
At the annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet in New Orleans TowBoatUS Long Bech, a towing and assistance company much like an on-water auto club that helps boat owners get home after a boat breakdown, was awarded Tower of the Year at the annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet in New Orleans. Posted on 22 Jan
West Coast's Sailing Convention for Women returns
BoatUS has sponsored the event for nearly three decades After a Covid hiatus the Sailing Convention for Women is back with full sails and expanded learning opportunities and slated for Saturday, April 1, 2023. Posted on 8 Dec 2022
New owner of TowBoatUS Guntersville Lake
Professional service provides 24/7 on-water assistance in Alabama 880,000: That's the number of sea miles former commercial fishing and charter Captain Stephen Clark has under the keel, an incredible distance earned over 40 years of chasing fish on Pacific Ocean from Southern California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Posted on 15 Nov 2022
BoatUS East Coast alerts by Mel and Tom Neale
Every fall, a migration occurs along America's East Coast Every fall, a migration occurs along America's East Coast, but it's not of the avian type. Hundreds of cruisers aboard recreational boats (nicknamed "snowbirds") load up with crew in an effort to seek out warmer climates Posted on 19 Oct 2022
TowBoatUS comes to Crappie Capital of the World
24/7 professional on-water assistance on Weiss Lake, Alabama “Red is Ready” on Alabama's Weiss Lake with the opening of TowBoatUS Weiss Lake. Located on the Coosa River Chain, the lake is known by many as the “Crappie Capital of the World.” Posted on 12 Oct 2022
Logan Thomas is new owner of TowBoatUS Lake Wylie
On-water towing, jump-start, soft ungrounding, fuel-drop service for recreational boaters Capt. Logan Thomas is the third generation of his family to grow up on Lake Wylie, forever exploring the waterway's 325 miles of shoreline, inlets and coves that straddle the border of North and South Carolina. Posted on 15 Sep 2022
Moving on up
Capt. Shaun Curtis is new owner of TowBoatUS Mobile, Alabama Raised on a houseboat in a family without a lot of money, Capt. Shaun Curtis initially was unsure of his career path. Posted on 6 Aug 2022
New TowBoatUS location serves Tappahannock region
An underserved portion of the Rappahannock River now has professional 24/7 coverage An underserved portion of the Rappahannock River now has professional 24/7 on-water towing and assistance coverage with the opening of TowBoatUS Upper Rappahannock. Posted on 5 Aug 2022
Boating infrastructure grants by the numbers
How to get boaters to stay and spend Many waterfront towns don't make it easy for visiting boaters to stay and spend. It's not their fault. Protected, safe harbors as well essential boating services such as fuel, utilities and bathrooms, are beyond the price tag for marina/boat club budget. Posted on 14 Jul 2022
3-hour courses for beginner & experienced boaters
Affordable 3-hour courses begin today in Fort Myers Edison Sailing Center and the national nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water make it easy and affordable to learn how to drive a powerboat with a series of hands-on courses for beginner, women and experienced boat operators Posted on 11 Jul 2022
Coast Guard Foundation FOOTER 1Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERRS Sailing 2021 - FOOTER