“We are so excited to have these boats splash. They are going to provide the utmost service to boaters along the coast,” said Capt. Charles Boniols, a partner in the San Diego and Newport Beach/L.A. Sea Tow franchises. “Our captains can get from Catalina Island to Huntington Beach in about an hour, and we have a 15-minute response time from San Diego to the Mexican border. This is a huge uptick in technology and is a real benefit to our members. When someone in trouble sees one of these boats coming it will be quite a relief. These boats really mean business.”
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) originally put the three boats into service in 2004. The USCG turned over its fleet, so the boats went up for sale and were stripped of their engines and electronics before being sold. SAFE Boats International, located in Bremerton, Washington, builds rugged aluminum boats for the USCG, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Navy, along with other federal, state and local agencies.
“The bottom line is that any of the three Sea Tow franchises now can be anywhere within their AOR (area of responsibility) within one hour,” Capt. Chris McCarthy said. “These boats are very fuel-efficient and have a low center of gravity, which makes them stable. When you step into the boat you are actually below the waterline. With the addition of these boats, we not only round out our existing fleet, but can offer the fastest response in the West.”
“These boats are extremely impressive. They are 25 feet long, with full cabins and heaters,” said McCarthy, who is a partner with Boniols in the Sea Tow Newport Beach/L.A. franchise, and owner of the Sea Tow Lake Havasu location. “They are all very similarly rigged, with twin Suzuki 250-horsepower outboards, dual GPS and radar monitors, dual radios — all the standard practices for backups. Our most efficient cruise speed is 35 mph at 3800 rpm, but I’ve hit 54 mph. It has more than enough speed for our captains to provide the prompt service our members expect.”