Capt. Jackson Dozier grew up boating on Lake Martin. “When my friends would go to the beach,” he said, “I’d go fishing on Lake Martin.” Now Dozier, a former dive instructor who earned his US Coast Guard captain’s license 10 years ago, has turned his love and knowledge of the lake into a career. He and his wife, Nicki, are the operators of TowBoatUS Lake Martin, a brand new towing service that helps boaters and anglers get safely home after they have had trouble on the water. Jackson runs the on-the-water operation; Nicki is in charge of dispatch and “everything else.” A partner in the venture is Capt. Chris Shaffner, owner of TowBoatUS Palm Beach/Jupiter/Boynton Beach.
Much like an auto club for boaters, TowBoatUS offers on-the-water towing plans for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $58 a year which includes BoatUS membership. Without a towing plan, the average cost of hiring a towboat is about $600 per incident. Unlike the sometimes well-intentioned yet hit-or-miss help provided by friends or family, TowBoatUS Lake Martin offers skilled professional service 24-hours a day, seven days a week, at no charge to members.
Dozier, 32, got his start in the towing business by working for Shaffner as a captain for TowBoatUS Palm Beach/Jupiter, Florida. “I really liked it, and I learned a lot,” he said of his three years there. But since they “weren’t done with adventure,” he and Nicki moved to Ketchikan, Alaska, where he ran a 78-foot tour boat. When their daughter Morgan was born last summer, the Doziers decided it was time to come back south to be closer to family, and approached Shaffner about starting the new TowBoatUS port on Lake Martin.
“I always wanted to expand to the lakes and Dozier, who was a terrific captain for us here in Florida, grew up there,” said Shaffner. “It is a great opportunity for both of us.”
Lake Martin, the largest lake in Alabama, is popular with boaters of all kinds, from anglers, to water-skiers, wake-boarders, cruisers and sailors. It is 44,000 square acres, with 750 miles of coastline. From point to point, the longest distance is 31 miles. Dozier will keep his towboat, a 24-foot SeaArk RAM with twin 175-horsepower engines, at Blue Creek Marina. “I can be anywhere in 30 minutes,” he said. The boat is a distinctive red and carries the “TowBoatUS” trademark. It is fully rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs and extra fuel.
Boaters can contact TowBoatUS Lake Martin by calling 256-307-1313, calling the BoatUS toll-free Dispatch Service at 800-391-4869, or hailing on VHF 16. To see the location on a map, go to www.BoatUS.com/lakemartin.