Capt. Chad Gilliland and his wife, Danah, the new owners of TowBoatUS Lake Martin and TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake, have been inland Alabama boaters for the majority of their lives. With boating activity on the rise on both lakes, the couple took over the two ports earlier this year that provides 24-hour assistance to boaters and anglers who have trouble on the water. Providing a safe tow home, a battery jump or a gentle pull off a shoal are their specialties. The business is part of a nationwide network of more than 300 TowBoatUS locations.
Capt. Gilliland has been serving the public for most of his adult life. He served in law enforcement, worked as a salvage diver raising sunken vessels, and has been a fishing guide. It was his desire to serve the boating community that drew him into the on-water towing business. “I enjoy helping,” he said. “It’s the best feeling when boaters are really happy to see you after a rough day on the water. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to know I’m doing a good thing for people.”
TowBoatUS Lake Martin and Lewis Smith Lake operate three boats rigged and ready for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery and soft ungrounding.
Much like an auto club for boaters, BoatUS offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $72 per year. Boaters without a BoatUS towing membership face costs that average $500 per towing incident, with some paying into the thousands out-of-pocket.
Both Lake Martin and Lewis Smith Lake are popular fishing lakes that experience fluctuating water levels that catch boaters off guard. “There are a lot of rocky points and unmarked sandbars that you’ll find on either lake at any given time of year,” said Chad. “Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an avid boater, our services are something everybody can use and benefit from.”
While Chad operates the response vessels along with his three full-time U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains, Danah handles the marketing efforts for the company, including social media, boat shows, and partnering with local marinas. Even their three children enjoy wearing their TowBoatUS gear to help promote the company at local events.
“I’m excited to see the business grow and expand, and there’s a lot of opportunities to give more coverage on both lakes,” said Chad. “As a former employee of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, we have a great working relationship with the marine division, too. I’m just really excited to be a part of it all.”
TowBoatUS Lake Martin and Lewis Smith Lake operate three boats rigged and ready for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery and soft ungrounding. Two of the three response vessels are located on Lake Martin and are kept at Bay Pine Marina, a central location for a faster response time. The third boat is located at Trident Marina on Lewis Smith Lake. All the boats are easily recognizable by their red hulls with TowBoatUS logos emblazoned in bright white letters on their sides.
Boaters can reach TowBoatUS Lake Martin or TowBoatUS Lewis Smith Lake by hailing TowBoatUS on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 256-307-1313, by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, or via smartphone using the new BoatUS App. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/towing, or call 800-888-4869.