Round-the-Clock Boater Assistance Comes to Northern Michigan
New TowBoatUS Ports Open on Traverse Bay and Torch Lake
Published: Tuesday, June 28, 2016
With their crystal blue waters and stunning scenery, Grand Traverse Bay and nearby Torch Lake are Northern Michigan boating Meccas, with many hundreds of local boats at private docks and marinas and scores of visiting boats exploring what some call one of the finest fresh water cruising areas in the world.
Life got easier for all those boaters this spring with the opening of two new boater assistance businesses – TowBoatUS Traverse Bay and TowBoatUS Torch Lake, 24-hour on water towing and assistance services for recreational boaters that are ready to help Northern Michigan boaters in need of a battery jump, a soft ungrounding, a fuel delivery or a tow back home.
Much like a reliable auto club for boaters, BoatUS offers an on-water Unlimited Towing Membership Plan for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $72 a year that includes valuable BoatUS membership. Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that average over $700 per incident nationally, and all plans are good for any boat owned, rented or borrowed. Last year TowBoatUS responded to over 70,000 requests from boaters nationwide for routine assistance.
Richard Lenardson, who has been assisting boaters for more than a decade as the owner of TowBoatUS Chicago and seven additional TowBoatUS ports along the shores of Lake Michigan, said he opened the locations in Traverse Bay and on Torch Lake because local first responders told him of the need. “Because of the enormous size of Grand Traverse Bay and the scores of inland lakes that surround it, the sheriff’s department marine division had all it could do to handle emergencies, leaving no one to handle routine breakdowns,” Lenardson explained. “That’s what we do well.”
Grand Traverse Bay, a 30-mile long, nine-mile wide Lake Michigan bay is home to several harbors as well the 19-mile long Old Mission Peninsula, which separates East Bay from West Bay. TowBoatUS Traverse Bay has a fast 25-foot Defender SAFE boat, powered by two 150-horsepower outboards, the same kind of response boat the US Coast Guard uses. It is based at East Bay Harbor Marina in Acme. Lenardson will station a second boat in Traverse City if it is needed.
Only a tiny strip of land separates Torch Lake from Grand Traverse Bay, but since the 19-mile-long inland lake has no navigable connection to Lake Michigan, Torch Lake boaters need a dedicated towing service to assist them. Now TowBoatUS Torch Lake is there, on call 24/7 with an Ambar 18 rigid hull inflatable with a 100-horsepower diesel engine. It is based at the south end of Torch Lake at Torch River Marine in Rapid City.
Both the Traverse Bay and Torch Lake boats are painted bright red with the TowBoatUS name and logo emblazoned in white on their hulls, and they are rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel. The US Coast Guard licensed Lenardson and his staff of highly qualified licensed captains operate the boats.
TowBoatUS Traverse Bay and TowBoatUS Torch Lake can each be hailed on VHF channel 16, reached by calling the local office directly at 269-226-2125, by calling the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, and via smartphone with the free BoatUS Towing App. Lenardson is big fan of the smartphone app since it gives his dispatchers the exact location of the boat that needs help. “We can get there much faster when we have that information,” he said. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-888-4869.