Capt. Robert Manley, a New Jersey native who has been running marine businesses in the Caribbean for 25 years, opened TowBoatUS St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
BoatUS said Manley, a maritime jack-of-all-trades, got his sea legs as a youngster fishing off the New Jersey coast. After several years of running a demolition and construction business in his home state, he left the cold and snow behind and headed to the islands, where he built marinas, ran fishing charters and boated for pleasure.
BoatUS said Manley is well-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, is to let people know about TowBoatUS membership and benefits.
“It’s well-known in the States, but new down here,” he said.
TowBoatUS St. Thomas is based at Ruans Marine in Banner Bay on the east end of the island. It also covers St. Croix and St. John in the USVI and Puerto Rico’s Culebra and Vieques, known as the Spanish Virgin Islands.
Culebra is just 12 nautical miles away, Manley said. “It’s a lot closer to us than it is to mainland Puerto Rico.”
TowBoatUS St. Thomas has two assist boats — a 29-foot Fountain powered by twin 150-hp outboards, and a 33-foot Bertram with twin diesels.
TowBoatUS St. Thomas is one of four BoatUS ports outside the mainland United States. The others are 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.