PORT ISABEL — Call it Triple-A for the water.
Port Isabel fishing guide Capt. George Strader is the new owner of TowBoatUS in Port Isabel, which for an annual fee, provides on-water towing and emergency assistance.
Headquarters for the business will be at Pirates Landing.
Strader described his purchase as a “franchise-type” deal and he hopes to increase enrollment in the local program, which is part of a network of more than 300 emergency locations nationwide.
Strader’s operation will consist of a pair of red 24-hour response vessels rigged for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery and soft groundings. Separate from BoatUS, the company also offers boat salvage and dive services.
“Engine failure is the number one cause of problems, and then after that, groundings or simple errors — didn’t put enough gas, leaking oil and didn’t put enough oil in their boat, their battery dies,” Strader said Tuesday.
Boater assistance will be available within a 25-mile radius of Port Isabel, covering mariners out of Arroyo City and Port Mansfield.
“For $165 a year you can’t beat it,” he said.
The service is available 24/7, Strader said, “weather permitting,” and covers both the Laguna Madre and offshore up to the 25-mile limit.
“If it’s going to be dangerous to us, then we’ll pass it over to the Coast Guard,” he said.
“I’ve been a guide for 27 years, and I’m still doing it. But we will be slowing down and spending more time here,” Strader said. “I’m putting together a pretty good staff and it’s going to be good. It’s always been here, but we’re going to market it and let the Valley know it’s here.”
TowBoatUS users typically report an issue with their craft through the company’s free app. Additionally, Strader’s local company can be reached at (956) 900-1221, by hailing on VHF channel 16 or through the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at (800) 391-4869.