Two new TowBoatU.S. locations open

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TowBoatU.S. expanded its fleet with new locations in South Carolina and Alabama.

Just four years after opening TowBoatU.S. locations on Grand Bahama and in the Abacos, Capt. Jess Cooley has opened a third location, TowBoatU.S. Lake Murray, S.C. The new port is located in Chapin, and three local captains will operate the towboats - Jimmy Takach, Jim Holland and Randy Saliga.

Cooley, a former Navy commander, says battery jump-starts, fuel drop-offs and tows back to a launch ramp are some common requests from boaters. The lake has many isolated coves and inlets, and Cooley believes his three captains' local knowledge is invaluable in locating disabled vessels in need of assistance.

Stationed at the port are two, 20-foot Shamrock response boats loaded with a full complement of towing and salvage equipment.

Capt. Jim Helms has opened TowBoatU.S. Decatur, Ala. This is the second port for Helms, who opened TowBoatU.S. Scottsboro, Ala., in 2004.

Helms says engine breakdowns caused by aquatic weeds being ingested into motorboat cooling systems is a problem unique to the Decatur area. Stationed at the new port is a 25-foot Munson Pilothouse response vessel fully rigged for marine towing and salvage work.

The port's service area includes Lake Guntersville to the Joe Wilson Dam. Helms said he sometimes trailers the response vessel to avoid going through locks, providing a quicker response to boaters in need of assistance.

Five local U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains operate the vessel. Helms, who has a commercial license, also has hazardous-material experience with fuel spills and his company has worked with the Alabama Marine Police for several years. He is also owner of Precision Auto and Truck Collision Repair in nearby Scottsboro.

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