Sea Tow Reports Increased Response Calls Over July 4, 2012

Photo/Sea Tow Central Connecticut, Captain Tom Kehlenbach

The extended July 4, 2012, holiday has been one of the busiest in recent years for Sea Tow Services International Inc. and its network of Sea Tow captains.

By midway through the holiday week, which runs this year from June 29 to July 8, 2012, Sea Tow already had received more than 2,200 calls for assistance. In addition to these calls, about 20 percent of the Sea Tow network had responded to requests for boat salvages and recoveries through July 4. Call volume to Sea Tow operators was up more than 16% this year over the 2011 holiday period, with the number-one assistance request being for boat tows.

“With another weekend yet to go, the 10-day July 4 holiday has been tremendously busy for our network of skilled U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Sea Tow Captains and crew,” said Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow Founder and CEO. “We’re proud of the job our captains and staff from coast to coast have been doing to help boaters stay safe.”

Through increased boating activity have come a number of harrowing incidents that serve as strong reminders to all boaters to pay attention and follow safe boating practices on the water. Through the July 4th holiday period to date, Sea Tow captains have responded to multiple emergency calls, including the following incidents:

  • Capt. Ethan Maass of Sea Tow South Shore in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, rescued 2 boaters on June 29 from an overturned boat in Cape Cod Bay where waves of 2’ to 3’ were washing over the hull. Neither boater was wearing a shirt or a lifejacket. Capt. Maass provided them with both when they boarded his vessel. He called the Coast Guard, which took both boaters back to shore and marked the vessel for recovery.
  • Sea Tow Central New Jersey was involved in the rescue of 5 adults and 4 children from a sinking boat near the north jetty of Barnegat Inlet on July 1. The Sea Tow crew rescued 3 people, while the Coast Guard picked up the remaining boaters. Sea Tow Central New Jersey also freed the boat from the jetty. Everyone was taken ashore safely and transferred to awaiting emergency medical personnel.
  • Sea Tow Cape May responded to a July 1 boat fire in the Cape May Canal along with local Avalon Police and New Jersey State Police. A 20’ center console boat burst into flames at the fuel dock at Avalon Marine Center. The boat’s occupants were able to get out, but were taken to the hospital. In an attempt to prevent damage to surrounding boats and the marina, Sea Tow Cape May’s Capt. Scott took the smoking boat in tow, beached it, and helped to control the fire aboard for 45 minutes until the Avalon fire department finally extinguished it with foam. (Live video and photos available upon request.)
  • Sea Tow Naples, in Florida, responded to the scene of a boat explosion on June 30 where a father and son were seriously injured. The docked boat exploded when the father apparently turned on a wet/dry vac to remove water from the bilge. It is suspected a spark may have ignited gasoline vapors. The father suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 75 percent of his body, while his 11-year-old son, who had been assisting, suffered severe burns to the legs.
  • Sea Tow Miami responded to a July 4 call for help from a Good Samaritan who saw a vessel taking on water and about to sink with 6 adults and 2 children around 8-years-old aboard. Capt. Fernando Sordo headed out only to encounter scores of boats returning from various on-water fireworks shows. Nonetheless, he arrived on scene in about 5 minutes to help the stranded boaters safely board a nearby boater’s vessel. Capt. Sordo pumped out the sinking boat and saved it, then towed the vessel safely to shore.

As many of these and other recent incidents clearly demonstrate, it’s important that all boaters follow some basic, commonsense rules on the water. Sea Tow and the Sea Tow Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded to promote boating safety, offer boaters the following reminders for the rest of the July 4 holiday week:

  • Wear Your Lifejacket: They are proven to save lives and are mandatory for all children under age 13 on the water in a recreational boat.
  • Designate a Sober Skipper: To drive the boat at all times. It is against federal law and most state laws for a person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or .08 or higher to operate a recreational vessel.
  • Follow Proper Fueling Procedures: Always turn off your motor when fueling. For boats with enclosed cabins, windows always should be closed during fueling. And always properly vent enclosed engine compartments after fueling and before restarting the motor(s).
  • Be Courteous and Watch Your Wake: Obey “No-Wake” zones in order to avoid causing damage to docked vessels and injury to marine life. Always reduce your speed when passing vessels in narrow channels. If your vessel throws a large wake, be aware of fellow boaters and take care not to swamp smaller vessels while underway.
  • Download the Sea Tow App: Sea Tow Captains report that boaters calling for help often don’t know their exact location while on the water. With the new Sea Tow App, you can have your GPS location in the palm of your hand and call for assistance with a swipe of your thumb. The App also lets you monitor current weather conditions and tides, as well as performing other useful functions. Visit to download the Sea Tow App.

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