I asked Ellett that and other questions. Here are his responses:
Q. How long have been involved with Sea Tow, and how did you get started?
A. This is my sixth season. I wanted to do something on the water and contacted Sea Tow since they were expanding to lake coverage. This is my only business and I am committed to providing members with fast, dependable service while exercising great care in handling their boats. Sea Tow is a family operated business.
Q. Is there training is involved?
Q. What services does Sea Tow provide a subscriber?
A. Unlimited towing wherever the boater wants to go, free jump starts -- even at home docks and boat ramps -- fuel drops and “soft” groundings. We even do scheduled dock-to-dock tows for members for free should their boat need to be moved for repairs or other reasons. We can be called just for navigational information or referrals for mechanics, restaurants, marinas, fuel or fishing tips.
Q. Do your services cover the entire lake?
A. Yes, if someone breaks down at Bay Roc and needs to be towed to Gills Creek, that is what we do for our members at no extra charge.
Q. What are the three most likely ways a member gets into trouble and has to call you?
A. Mechanical breakdown, out of fuel and dead battery.
Q. What kind of tow boat do you operate?
A. We have two tow boats, one on each end of the lake and nine licensed captains. Our boats are 21-foot Triumphs built at the factory as commercial tow vessels.
Q. How do most boaters in need get in touch with you?
A. Cellphone: 540-719-5555 or 1-800-4SEATOW. We operate 24/7/365. Q. Should a boater requesting help be ready to provide you GPS coordinates or what kind of information do you need?
A. Marker numbers or lake landmarks.
Q. Smith Mountain contains a lot of boat traffic, so why not just flag down another boater if you are in trouble? Aren’t other boaters required to help?
A. The average boater is not professionally trained and may not have the proper know-how and equipment, especially the proper tow line. Asking him to tow you is asking him to accept responsibility for any damage or injury that may result. A boater’s duty to assist another can be satisfied by calling a professional tow company for help. Towing can consume time and gas for which you can’t be compensated according to USCG regulations. Add to that, other boaters may not see that you are in trouble.
Q. Is a Sea Tow membership necessary for your services or can just any boater contact you when assistance is needed?
A. You do not have to be a member, but membership is cheaper than just one hour of assistance. Membership gives you unlimited free assistance and members are always first in line.
Q. What’s it coast to be a member?
A. A Sea Tow membership costs 33 cents a day or less, and one membership covers all the boats you own, borrow or rent and will cover other people operating your boat.
Q. What would a typical tow cost a boater who doesn’t have a membership?
A. Normally $300 to $500.
Q. Does Sea Tow offer a trailer towing package that covers roadside breakdowns; if so, what is its cost?
A. Yes. The rate is $14 per year for marine trailer care and $29.95 for universal trailer care.
Q. What is the most unusual tow you have taken part in? >br?A. The salvage and recovery of a 44,000-pound crane sunken in 60 feet of water, which we raised and then towed approximately six hours, still partially submerged, to a suitable location for removal from the lake.
Reprint via www.roanoke.com. Article by Bill Cochran. Special thanks to The Roanoke Times.