ALEXANDRIA, Va. – BoatU.S. Towing Services had over 60,000 requests for assistance in 2006, an increase of 2.5 percent over 2005, BoatU.S. reported in a release yesterday.
Those requests, which include tows back to port, fuel drop offs, ungroundings and other services, were handled by the organization's 500 TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist tow boats across the country.
Jerry Cardarelli, vice president of BoatU.S. Towing Services, believes that the up tick is a result of greater TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist visibility at the local level.
"We added 18 new port locations in 2006 to meet increasing demand," said Cardarelli. "Once we open a port, boaters are more inclined to give us a ring when something goes wrong.”
More boaters are also using cell phones to request non-emergency help.
"Cell phone calls to our 24-hour call centers increased 4 percent over 2005," said Cardarelli. "Boaters should still have a VHF radio. In an emergency, the first responders most likely to come to your aid will be your fellow boaters - and the best way to reach them is with a VHF radio."
Another potential reason for the increase in cell phone use, said Cardarelli, is that many boaters prefer not to share routine mishaps such as gently running aground, engine problems or out-of-fuel situations with the entire world on VHF's public airwaves.
TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist towers monitor VHF channel 16 - 24 hours a day seven days a week.
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