Local charter fishing guide Capt. Peter Mathews, who as child grew up working in the region’s nascent sailing charter industry, says he cannot remember not being on the water. The Canadian Coast Guard-licensed Mathews is now owner of Vancouver Island-based TowBoatUS Comox, bringing 24-hour on-water towing and assistance to recreational boaters and anglers in the northern Georgia Strait.
This brings the number of TowBoatUS British Columbia locations, all locally owned, to three and adds to the network of 13 Pacific Northwest locations providing routine on-water assistance to boaters from the Columbia River and Puget Sound north to Canada’s Campbell River, Blind Channel and Desolation Sound regions – popular summer cruising grounds for American and Canadians alike.
Mathew’s custom-built 28-foot aluminum-hulled response vessel is fully rigged for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery and soft ungroundings and is homeported at Government Dock in Comox on Vancouver Island. However, to expedite a response, Mathews can trailer the vessel to a nearby launch site, saving valuable time.
Mathews comes from a line of seafarers, going back to his great-grandfather who was a Royal Lifeboat captain in Wales. Mathew’s parents started Island Cruising in Maple Bay, one of the first British Columbia sail charter companies. A B.C. Institute of Technology grad, Mathews also has worked as a Provincial Park Ranger, did some marine research, vessel mechanic work, and began his fish-guiding business in 2005.
Knowing how boaters get into trouble is a part of the on-water towing business. Mathews says the region’s significant tides, current and weather can give boaters trouble when they break down. “We can see up to 15 knots of tidal current in the Seymour Narrows, and the Strait’s winds can stack up waves in close sets, so you really don’t want to be caught with a dead engine or dead battery,” he adds. The Comox Bar and deadheads on the Campbell River can also damage running gear.
TowBoatUS Comox is part of a network of 300 TowBoatUS ports and 600 towing response vessels across North America that responded to more than 70,000 requests for non-emergency assistance last year. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for saltwater boaters and anglers for less than $200 per year, including 24/7 on-water assistance for battery jumps, towing, soft ungroundings and fuel drop-offs. Boaters without BoatUS towing services face costs averaging $750 per towing incident, with some paying more.
Included with Unlimited Towing Membership are more than 25 BoatUS benefits and discounts, a subscription to BoatUS Magazine and more.
Separate from BoatUS towing services, the company offers boat salvage as well as dive and environmental remediation services. Because of the region’s remoteness, Mathews can also arrange for mobile mechanic services. “In certain situations, I’m able to bring a mechanic aboard on a call,” he added.