Capt. Robert Manley, a New Jersey native who has been running marine businesses in the Caribbean for the last 25 years, has opened TowBoatUS St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
“I’ve been towing boats and helping boaters ever since I came to St. Thomas,” he said. “The only real difference now is that I am working with BoatUS, which has great member benefits.”
Anyone who boats in the USVI or the nearby Spanish Virgin Islands can take advantage of TowBoatUS’s 24/7 on-water assistance. Much like an auto club for boaters, TowBoatUS offers on-water towing plans for saltwater boaters and anglers for j$149 a year, which includes BoatUS membership. BoatUS says Boaters face costs that average $700 per towing incident – with some paying into the thousands out of pocket – when they don’t have an annual BoatUS towing plan.
Capt. Manley is known locally from running Above & Below Marine Services, a company that offers a range of boat-repair and assistance services. His goal now, he said, it to let people know about TowBoatUS membership and benefits.
“It’s well known in the States but new down here,” he said.
To celebrate and share the news, TowBoatUS St. Thomas hosted a pig roast and decked out its boats with a Santa and snowmen for the island Christmas boat parade this past weekend. Manley has also reached out to help with St. Thomas Yacht Club events.
“Once people know about us, I know they will want our service,” he said.
St. Thomas and the surrounding waters are boating areas attracting both locals and snowbirds who cruise south from mainland U.S. TowBoatUS St. Thomas is based at Ruans Marine in Banner Bay on the east end of the island. In addition to St. Thomas, it covers the islands of St Croix and St. John in the USVI and Puerto Rico’s Culebra and Vieques, known as the Spanish Virgin Islands. Culebra is 12 nautical miles away, Manley said.
“It’s lot closer to us than it is to mainland Puerto Rico,” he added.
TowBoatUS St. Thomas has two bright red assist boats: a 29-foot Fountain powered by twin 150-hp outboards and a 33-foot Bertram with twin diesels. The TowBoatUS name is emblazoned in bright white letters on their hulls, and each are fully rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel.
Boaters can reach TowBoatUS St. Thomas by hailing on VHF channel 16, calling the company directly at 340-201-2820, by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, or via smartphone using the free BoatUS Towing App. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-888-4869.
TowBoatUS St. Thomas is one of four BoatUS ports outside the mainland US. The others are located in Vancouver, Gulf Islands and Georgia Strait in British Columbia, Canada. TowBoatUS Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach can also assist boaters in the western Bahamas.