OCEAN CITY, N.J. — It was every boater’s bad ending to the weekend. On a late Sunday afternoon, a 21-foot bowrider with two persons aboard broke down on a foggy bay off the New Jersey coast.
Unfortunately, the small vessel did not have a VHF radio or a chart plotter showing their precise location. But the captain and mate did have a cell phone with them, so they called the BoatUS Towing Services 24-hour dispatch center for assistance (800-391-4869).
The two boaters were tired and wanted to get home, but, unfortunately, gave the BoatUS dispatcher a poor description of the surroundings where they thought they were located. Upon hearing this information, local TowBoatUS captains in Beach Haven, Ocean City and Barnegat Light quickly deduced that it didn’t add up.
So how did BoatUS find the bowrider?
TowBoatUS Ocean City’s Capt. Patti Kearney says, “We solved the problem by advising the boaters to download the BoatUS Smart Phone App.” Once the couple completed this easy task, the BoatUS dispatcher was automatically provided the vessel’s precise latitude and longitude information, and Capt. Kearney was able to quickly locate the boat and bring it back home safely.
The app reduces towboat response times by using the accuracy of the GPS latitude and longitude technology built into smart phones, and also adds helpful location and tracking features. Since its launch in February, more than 36,000 boaters, sailors and anglers have downloaded it.
The BoatUS Towing App can also work well with your float plan, allowing you to easily text or email loved ones ashore, allowing them to “track” your trip on the BoatUS online Member Service Locator map.
The App also gives smart phone users the option of seeing their own location on Google maps (when their cell phone’s Internet connection is operable).
BoatUS cautions boaters that a VHF marine radio should be the first choice for emergency communications and they should always contact the U.S. Coast Guard or local law enforcement in an emergency situation. However, having the App is a great backup for routine breakdowns and it can be easily downloaded by going to www.BoatUS.com/app. It’s available for both Android and Apple iPhones.
BoatUS offers on-the-water towing service plans — much like a roadside assistance club for boaters — for freshwater for $58 a year and saltwater for $149 which includes BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. Go to www.BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-395-2628 for more information.