For many boaters, being out on the water is a chance to spend time with those you cherish most. At Sea Tow Galveston Bay, it’s business as usual.
Captain Billy Kern has owned Sea Tow Galveston Bay for nearly nine years now, but what makes the franchise special is its close-knit family feel. While Captain Billy and his wife Christina own the business, Kern’s sister-in-law, Liz, runs the day-to-day operations. It’s a family affair in every sense of the word.
But the close-knit comradery isn’t just for management at Sea Tow Galveston Bay. Each of the franchise’s three captains have been close friends for years. When they’re not out providing top-notch on-water assistance to the boaters of Clear Lake, Clear Creek, Trinity Bay, East Bay, West Bay and beyond, the trio love to hang out and they thoroughly enjoy one another’s company. One more degree of family involvement is from, Billy’s brother Mike. Captain Mike Kern is the franchise owner of Sea Tow Central Texas.
The importance of family in the lives of those at Sea Tow Galveston Bay is what drove Captain Billy and his crew to be some of the first people out helping during the rescue efforts in the midst of Hurricane Harvey just three months ago.
As the storm was looming over the Texas coast, the crew were busy preparing for the recovery jobs that were sure to follow in Harvey’s wake. As the crew finished up their final preparations, they soon realized how bad the flooding was, and it was getting worse by the minute.
“We started getting calls from neighbors and friends asking for help,” Billy said, “and before we knew it, we were out in our shallow water boat helping families off of their roofs and from their houses.”
Over the course of the next eight hours, Billy and fellow Captain John Judice, helped nearly 120 people escape the floods. Captain John was getting in and out of the water, finding things to step on to get to higher ground and to help others. For the first four or five hours, Captains Billy and John were some of the few out helping people.
And it wasn’t just people the crew from Galveston Bay were helping. During that time, they helped rescue over 30 dogs as well – so many that dog hair ended up clogging the boat’s bilge pump causing it to burn out.
“It was a full-force rescue out there,” Billy added. “We were just glad to have been able to help.”
The next day, Billy and Liz started getting calls for boat recoveries and salvages and the crew at Galveston Bay went back to doing what they do best.
Author Jim Butcher once said, “When everything goes to heck, the people who stand by you without flinching – they are your family.”
For the people of Texas’ Gulf Coast, that’s the crew at Sea Tow Galveston Bay.