Sea Tow® Celebrates 40th Anniversary

Sea Tow, the nation’s leading on-water marine assistance provider, is marking its 40th anniversary in business in 2023. Having broken barriers in the industry, Sea Tow is the premier provider of non-emergency on-water assistance including towing, fuel delivery, battery jumps, and ungroundings, as well as salvage and recovery services including response to catastrophic events and marine spill response.

At the forefront of on-water assistance since 1983, with more than 500+ ports nationwide including the continental United States, Alaska and Puerto Rico, Sea Tow is a member-driven, franchise-based business. The late  Captain Joseph Frohnhoefer Jr. established the company in Southold, New York, when Congress enacted a law that directed the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard to make full use of all available and qualified resources in rendering aid in non-emergency boating calls. What began with just two boats on the water in the North Fork of Long Island, has grown into a network of over 110 franchise operated areas with more than 500 boats and 700 captains and crew nationwide.

Technological innovation has been a large driver of the evolution and expansion of Sea Tow’s services. When the company first started, nearly all on-water assistance calls came via VHF radio. Now, most of today’s service calls originate from cell phones and come to Sea Tow’s 24/7/365 Customer Care and Dispatch Center, which first opened in 2003. The company has also gone paperless on the water, opting instead to use mobile-based digital dispatch and job management software. As a result, Sea Tow can respond faster, communicate more efficiently with the customer, and collect real-time data to help drive business decisions and increase customer service.

In the digital age, Sea Tow leverages its online presence—through social media and blogs—to empower boaters. By promoting education and fostering anticipation of potential challenges, Sea Tow ensures boaters build on a solid foundation of knowledge and safety. Captains utilize resources such VHF radio over the internet and mobile devices to track weather, tides and more.

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Today, the second generation, family-owned company is led by Captain Frohnhoefer’s son, CEO Captain Joseph Frohnhoefer III and daughter, President Kristen Frohnhoefer. Sea Tow focuses on its many available services, franchise network, philanthropy, and the embrace of technology as the industry continues to evolve.

Sea Tow offers various recreational boater membership options to fit boaters’ needs and is the only company to offer membership options for commercial mariners. In addition to non-emergency on-water assistance for boaters, the company offers many services such as salvage and recovery, including post-hurricane catastrophic response, recovering derelict boats, airplane recovery, water taxi and launch services, over land transport, vessel demolition and disposal and much more.

Sea Tow’s mission has always been to help people enjoy boating with key pillars of responsiveness, safety, professionalism, consistency, and dedication. The network of independently owned franchises, each operating their own areas of responsibility, assist boaters in many ways beyond strictly towing; from helping to troubleshoot to get boaters back underway, to utilizing captains’ local knowledge to help boaters navigate common pitfalls like shifting sandbars and tricky inlets.

With philanthropy as a focus, Captain Joe Frohnhoefer Jr. established the Sea Tow Foundation in 2006 after he witnessed too many preventable accidents and fatalities on the water. Today, the Foundation continues to work with boating communities across the country to provide access to education, tools, and resources to eliminate preventable boating accidents and deaths. In fall 2022, the Foundation opened its 1,000th life jacket loaner station and now has over 1300 throughout all 50 states.

At a local level, Sea Tow franchisees across the network participate in a variety of causes and opportunities for giving, including waterway cleanups, turtle and wildlife rescues, Toys for Tots, Wake the World and many other community events.