Recently named the Best Coastal Small Town by USA Today, Sandusky’s waterfront has long been popular with recreational boaters. With the increased density of boats come more unexpected boat breakdowns that require a tow back to the marina or launch ramp. For 17 years, Capt. James “Jimmer” Kennedy has managed operations for five local 24-hour TowBoatUS on-water assistance ports, ensuring hundreds of boaters got safely home. Now he’s the owner of the local company homeported out of Sandusky with additional TowBoatUS ports in Huron, Cedar Point, Vermilion and Lorain.
Much like an auto club for boaters, BoatUS offers on-water Unlimited Freshwater Towing Membership for just $85 per year, which is good for any boat owned, rented or borrowed. Tows to launch ramps, marinas or private docks; battery jumps; fuel drop-offs; and soft ungrounding services are provided day or night by professional, U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains.
Capt. Kennedy began his maritime career in high school working at Neuman Boat Line, served aboard the Kelley’s Island Ferry, and eventually become commercial mariner with the The Interlake Steamship Company, earning his U.S. Coast Guard Unlimited Master of Towing license. He began towing recreational vessels as a part-time TowBoatUS captain in 1999, and eventually led efforts to grow the company from three TowBoatUS locations to today’s five, all located in the heart of a Great Lakes boating mecca.
Kennedy’s wife, Amber, handles the company’s marketing and office functions, helping to grow the business while the couple’s 8-month-old son, Jordan, is content to watch mom and dad work. The company operates five response vessels, from high-speed Fountains to soft-sided Zodiacs that are easily recognizable by their red hulls with TowBoatUS logo emblazoned in bright white letters on their hull sides. Each boat is rigged for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery, and soft ungroundings. The company also offers dive and salvage recovery services.
Boaters can reach all of Capt. Kennedy’s TowBoatUS ports by downloading the free BoatUS App, which speeds response times. They can also be reached by hailing on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 877-526-0229, and by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/Towing or call 800-888-4869.
The locations are part of a nationwide fleet of more than 600 response vessels at 300-plus TowBoatUS locations. Last year TowBoatUS responded to more than 70,000 requests for routine on-water assistance.