Capt. Travis Coleman, owner of Firstmate Yacht Services, a boat repair, fishing charter and yacht brokerage in Camden on the Lake, has expanded with new ownership of TowBoatUS Lake of the Ozarks, a local on-water towing company with locations in Lake Ozark, Osage Beach and Camdenton.
Capt. Travis Coleman, owner of Firstmate Yacht Services, a boat repair, fishing charter and yacht brokerage in Camden on the Lake, has expanded with new ownership of TowBoatUS Lake of the Ozarks, a local on-water towing company with locations in Lake Ozark, Osage Beach and Camdenton. The 24-hour boat towing company’s founder, Capt. Charlie Meyers, as well as the current staff will remain on board. The company has provided routine on-water assistance to lake boaters since 2002 including tows back to a launch ramp or marina, battery jumps, soft-ungroundings and fuel drop-offs.
Much like an auto club for boaters, BoatUS offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $85 per year. Boaters without BoatUS towing services face costs that average $750 per towing incident, with some paying much more. Capt. Coleman’s locations are part of a nationwide network of 300 TowBoatUS ports and 600 towing response vessels across the country, which responded to more than 70,000 requests for assistance last year.
Coleman, who holds a U.S. Coast Guard Masters license with commercial towing, founded Firstmate 22 years ago. With an additional second location at Lodge of Four Seasons, Firstmate has grown into a full-service boat repair, engine, paint and fiberglass shop with mobile services. Along the way Coleman added a fishing guide service, yacht delivery and brokerage. “I’m fortunate that Capt. Meyer and the all of our captains are staying with the company,” said Coleman.
“I’ve known Charlie for 20 years and am a BoatUS member myself. I know what it means to have professional assistance for the unexpected things. The same friendly faces are ready to help you day or night.”
Coleman says he’ll be adding more equipment and resources to provide quicker response times and is looking to offer customer-friendly collaborations between his companies, such as waiving Firstmate mobile repair service call fees for customers towed by TowBoatUS. “We want to help you get going again as soon as possible,” he adds.
Before he started Firstmate, Coleman worked in Europe and Guam in the boating industry, did keel-up restorations, was a yacht maintenance supervisor and later captained private yachts on the West Coast, which remains part of his services. Originally from St. Louis, his first visits to Lake of the Ozarks were in his youth.
Coleman says most calls for assistance from boaters are for routine engine and battery troubles. Shallows, which are plenty along the lake’s 93-mile length, and seasonal fluctuating water levels on the lake are also common problems because they can snag boat running gear.
TowBoatUS Lake of the Ozarks operates four response vessels: two outboard-powered RIBS, a former U.S. Coast Guard Justice-class Boston Whaler, and a 26-foot, diesel-powered Almar jet drive for thin waters. They are stationed on the lake’s 7-, 19-, and 31-mile markers: Camden on the Lake Marina, Formula Boats of Missouri, and Camelot Estates Marina, respectively.
All are easily recognizable by their red hulls with TowBoatUS logo emblazoned in bright white letters on their hull sides. Rigged for towing, jump-starts, fuel delivery, and soft ungroundings, all are helmed by U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains. The company also offers salvage, recovery, dive and environmental remediation services, and often assists the Missouri State Water Patrol.
Boaters can reach all Lake of the Ozarks TowBoatUS ports by downloading the free BoatUS App, which speeds response times. The company can also be reached by hailing on VHF channel 16, by calling the company directly at 573-216-4701, or by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869. More information can be found at BoatUS.com/Towing or call 800-888-4869.