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Tow ports open in Missouri, Florida, Oregon

Capt. Charlie Meyer opened a third TowBoatU.S. port on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri at mile marker 28.5 at Miller's Landing Marina.

The Coast Guard-licensed Meyer also owns TowBoatU.S. Lake of the Ozarks located near mile marker 11 and TowBoatU.S. Osage Beach at Dave Mungenast Marina at mile marker 1 of the Grand Glaize Arm.

Meyer, who grew up on a farm near St. Louis, joined the Coast Guard at 21, serving for 21 years, including a tour in Vietnam. After retiring in 1986, he started towing boaters on the lake in 2004 and opened TowBoatU.S. Lake of the Ozarks, his first BoatU.S. affiliated towing port.

Meyer is a member of Coast Guard Flotilla 30-2 as well as the Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Area Water Safety Council.

Capt. Joseph DiMartino is the new owner of TowBoatU.S. Naples, Fla., and TowBoatU.S. Marco, Fla. Naples is located in Naples Bay and TowBoatU.S. Marco is located near Marco Pass and Isle of Capri. The ports provide coverage from Wiggins Pass south to Cape Sable extending 50 nautical miles offshore.

The two ports are equipped with four response vessels.

DiMartino, a former yacht delivery and tugboat captain, also previously owned a Fort Lauderdale-based towing company that assisted megayachts and small freighters. DiMartino has hired Chris Smith, Gene Costa, and Jim Biasella — all Coast Guard-licensed captains — to help him operate the towboats.

Capt. Bill Wechter, a commercial fisherman, has opened Vessel Assist Newport. The on-the-water towing service for boaters and fishermen is located at South Beach Marina on Yaquina. Vessel Assist Newport is the second Vessel Assist port on the Yaquina River and the fifth in Oregon.

Wechter, who holds a Coast Guard 100-ton captain's license, has equipped the towing port with two response boats — a 44-foot, former Coast Guard motor lifeboat and a 25-foot Tolly Craft.

Wechter grew up in Eugene, Ore. and began fishing out of Newport in the summers before being called to serve in the Coast Guard during the Vietnam War. He later worked as a firefighter and emergency medical technician in California for four years before resuming his career as a commercial fisherman in Newport, where he has since raised a family of five children with his wife.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue.

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