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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Capt. Brian Lee new owner of TowBoatUS locations on Chickamauga, Nickajack, Watts Bar Lakes

by BoatUS 23 Apr 16:19 PDT
TowBoatUS provides towing, soft ungrounding, battery jump and fuel drop off services 24/7 on Chickamauga, Nickajack, and Watts Bar Lakes © Scott Croft

Capt. Brian Lee comes from a long line of shrimpers and commercial boatbuilders, and has had a career in recreational boat sales and service as well as marine insurance claims work. Now the captain and his wife, Libby, are keeping the family's maritime tradition alive as the new owners of TowBoatUS Chickamauga, Nickajack and Watts Bar lakes on the Tennessee River, helping boaters 24/7 with on-water towing and assistance.

It's a real family affair - the Lees' 12-year-old son aspires to be a towboat captain and helps out where he can, while their 14-year-old daughter has jumped in with social media marketing efforts. "Everyone helps out, from my wife, who is an integral part of our operations, to the kids," said Brian, who began working at marinas at age 14.

The Lees have lived and boated on Chickamauga for many years. "I'm excited to work on a lake I've made a lot of friends on over the years," said Brian. "I hope to make many more as I provide professional on-water assistance, helping folks with the unexpected any time of day or night."

The two locations are part of a network of more than 600 red towboats at 300-plus locations across the country that responded to more than 90,000 requests from boaters last year. Much like an auto club for recreational boat owners, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers annual on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $109 per year. Towing, ungrounding, battery jumps and fuel drop-offs are all included along with more than 25 BoatUS benefits. Also offered with membership is a subscription to BoatUS Magazine, free DSC-VHF radio registration and more.

The company has four red TowBoatUS response vessels from 21- to 25 feet, stationed on Chickamauga Lake at Island Cove Marina; at Hales Bar Marina on Nickajack Lake, and at Blue Springs Marina on Watts Bar Lake. An additional towboat is kept on a trailer ready to go at a moment's notice, speeding response times in more remote locations.

Brian says the most common request he gets from boaters is for towing service after an engine or mechanical breakdown. During the winter drawdown, unsuspecting boaters also sometimes run aground with 6 feet less water under the keel.

All captains are U.S. Coast Guard-licensed. Separate from BoatUS on-water towing services, the company offers vessel salvage, dive and environmental remediation services.

The fastest way to request on-water assistance is to download the free BoatUS App, which connects boaters to the closest local towing captain. Additionally, all three locations can be reached at 423-326-9768. The BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center is 800-391-4869.

For more, go to or call 800-888-4869.

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