“Lake Oconee is a very busy body of water,” Capt. Gridley said. “People come from all over the country to stay in homes there and to use the lake. Even though it is about a third of a size of Clarks Hill Lake, it’s heavily populated and there is quite a need for Sea Tow.”
Sea Tow Lake Oconee, which is headquartered in Greensboro, Ga., employs four U.S. Coast Guard-licensed Captains and has two assistance vessels in operation, including a 25-foot SteigerCraft powerboat and a 19-foot Boston Whaler. The SteigerCraft, powered by twin 150-hp engines, will be berthed at The WaterFront Marina on Lake Oconee. The Boston Whaler, powered by a 175-hp engine, is on a trailer for faster deployment on the 20-mile-long lake.
Capt. Gridley literally has been a lifesaver for boaters in the past. In 2012, he was honored with an international lifesaving award from AFRAS (the Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc.) that recognizes extraordinary bravery exhibited by a member of the Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing (C-PORT) during an on-water rescue. Capt. Gridley also received a U.S. Coast Guard Extraordinary Assistance Award from Capt. David McBride, U.S. Coast Guard Chief of Search of Rescue, for his role in the same rescue, which occurred on July 4, 2011.
That afternoon, a family on a houseboat on Clarks Hill Lake was hit with an intense thunderstorm with winds in excess of 50 knots. A man and a young boy were blown into the water from the houseboat; a firefighter who was a guest on board jumped in after them, but had trouble staying afloat in the rough wave conditions. Capt. Gridley’s friend Jim Masiongale, who witnessed the scene from shore, immediately ran to alert him.
Capt. Gridley launched his Sea Tow boat and together they raced to the scene. Masiongale and Gridley quickly pulled the first man and the boy, who was wearing a life jacket, to safety. The firefighter appeared to be in danger of drowning—his head was underwater and he was about to submerge further—but Capt. Gridley was able to get him onto the Sea Tow boat and revive him by administering CPR.
“Being in the right spot at the right time was, I think, very critical,” he said.
On July 4, 2012, also on Clarks Hill Lake, Capt. Gridley treated a passenger on a wakeboard boat who was suffering from a bee sting reaction. A qualified first responder, the Sea Tow Captain moved the victim out of the heat onto a houseboat and administered large doses of antihistamines. After an hour and a half of close monitoring, the patient was back to normal and able to drive home to Savannah, Georgia.
Of note, the wakeboard boat operator said, “I saw that yellow Sea Tow boat and knew I would be able to get help; I see you guys everywhere.”
“Capt. Jon Gridley is commended for outstanding performance of duty, going above and beyond, and bringing great credit to Sea Tow and the marine-assistance industry, said Capt. Joseph Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow Founder and CEO.
“I look forward to assisting our Sea Tow members and other boaters on Lake Oconee,” Capt. Gridley said. “At the same time, our new Sea Tow operation will free up law enforcement to be out there and do their jobs.
For more information, please call 706-986-9588 or visit seatow.com/lakeoconee.
About Sea Tow
Sea Tow Services International Inc. is the nation's leading on-water assistance provider for boaters. Established in 1983 by Founder & CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow serves members inland to the coast throughout the United States, Europe, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. For a full list of membership benefits, how to become a Sea Tow member or to inquire about becoming a Sea Tow franchise owner, please visit seatow.com. Sea Tow also offers free boating safety information including the Sea Tow App for smartphones, Sea Tow's Automated Radio Check Service, and the nonprofit Sea Tow Foundation's Life Jacket Loaner Station program. For more information, visit seatow.com and boatingsafety.com.