That’s the number of sea miles former commercial fishing and charter Captain Stephen Clark has under the keel, an incredible distance earned over 40 years of chasing fish on Pacific Ocean from Southern California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Now Clark, who is known locally as “Captain Steve,” is the new owner of the on-water towing and assistance company TowBoatUS Guntersville Lake, Alabama, and runs the 75-mile length of the waterway from Guntersville Dam to Nickajack Dam.
"I’m happy to be helping boaters - and out of the rat race,” says Capt. Steve with a smile. He still drops a line every now and then on the lake that is world-renowned for its largemouth bass fishing. Capt. Steve took ownership of the company from Capt. Shane and Stacey O’Neill, who he formerly worked for as a hired captain for the past several years.
Much like an auto club for recreational boat owners, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $99 per year. Towing, soft ungroundings, battery jumps and fuel drop-offs are all included, as well as more than 25 BoatUS benefits including discounts on transient slips and fuel, exclusive savings from national partners, a subscription to BoatUS Magazine, free DSC-VHF radio registration and more.
TowBoatUS Guntersville Lake is part of the nationwide TowBoatUS fleet of more than 600 red assistance vessels that respond 24/7 to more than 90,000 requests for routine assistance each year, with the average cost for a tow about $850 out of pocket without a towing plan. On Guntersville, in addition to dead engines and dead batteries, Capt. Steve responds to many groundings from locals as well as through-boaters as the result of fluctuating water levels and operator inattention.
All of the company’s captains are Coast Guard-licensed. Separate from BoatUS on-water towing, the company offers boat salvage and environmental remediation services.
The company’s 23-foot response vessel is stationed at Goose Pond Marina in Scottsboro, but can also launch on the other side of the causeway. The fastest way to request assistance from TowBoatUS Guntersville Lake is to download the free BoatUS App, which connects boaters to the closest local towing captain. Additionally, the port can be reached at 256-608-8326, or by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869.