THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands ― Capt. Robert Manley, a New Jersey native who has been running marine businesses in the Caribbean for the last 25 years, has opened TowBoatUS St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
“I’ve been towing boats and helping boaters ever since I came to St. Thomas,” Manley said. “The only real difference now is that I am working with BoatUS, which has great member benefits.”
Now anyone who boats in the USVI or the nearby Spanish Virgin Islands can take advantage of 24/7 on-water assistance. Much like an auto club for boaters, TowBoatUS offers on water towing plans for saltwater boaters and anglers for a BoatUS membership fee of $149 a year. Boaters can face costs that average up to $700 per towing incident – with some paying into the thousands out of pocket – when they don’t have an annual BoatUS towing plan.
Manley, the maritime jack-of-all-trades, got his sea legs as a youngster fishing off the New Jersey coast. After several years 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. “The sun and saltwater do me a lot of good,” he explained.
St. Thomas and the surrounding waters are vibrant boating areas attracting both locals and snowbirds who cruise south from the U.S. mainland. TowBoatUS St. Thomas is based at Ruans Marine in Banner Bay on the east end of the island. In addition to St. Thomas, it covers the islands of St Croix and St. John in the USVI and Puerto Rico’s Culebra and Vieques, known as the Spanish Virgin Islands.
TowBoatUS St. Thomas has two bright red assist boats: a 29-foot Fountain powered by twin 150-hp outboards and a 33-foot Bertram with twin diesels. The TowBoatUS name is emblazoned in bright white letters on their hulls, and each are fully rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel.
Boaters can reach TowBoatUS St. Thomas by hailing on VHF channel 16, calling the company directly at 340-201-2820, by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, or via smartphone using the free BoatUS Towing App. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/towing or call 800-888-4869.
TowBoatUS St. Thomas is one of four BoatUS ports outside the mainland US. The others are located 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.