It's the nature of their business, but it's not their job. When recreational boaters have a dead battery, run out of gas, or require a gentle tug off a stubborn shoal, the men and women who captain the nation's largest fleet of on-the-water towboats respond 24-hours a day or night, much like an auto club for boat owners.
However, with more than 600 towing vessels spread across America's waterways, the law of averages dictates that life-threatening emergencies are an occasional event that unfolds on the seas and lakes around them. As with any heroic act, the captain is faced with the split-second decision on whether to step in and try to save the individual or to call for help.
BoatU.S. Towing Services honored 11 of its TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist captains with its annual BoatU.S. Lifesaving Award at a ceremony that capped off the group's annual conference held recently in Arlington, Va.