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'Sea Tow' Celebrates 40th Anniversary as a Leader in On-Water Assistance, Safety & Support

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. Sea Tow is “Your Road Service at Sea®”.


At the forefront of on-water assistance since 1983, with more than 500+ ports nationwide including the continental U.S., 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.



Marine technology has also improved in the last 40 years. Outboard engines have transitioned from two-stroke to more eco-friendly four-stroke models. These contemporary engines not only favor the environment but also offer enhanced fuel efficiency, cost-effectiveness and superior technology that promotes longevity. Electronic advancements such as GPS, chart plotters, radar and depth sounders have allowed Sea Tow to better and more safely respond to mishaps on the water.


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.


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 in order 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.


“Forty years ago, our father founded Sea Tow to break barriers and pioneer an ‘industry’ that did not previously exist,” said Kristen Frohnhoefer. “What hasn’t changed in that time is a Sea Tow member having peace of mind by receiving priority service and knowing that a Sea Tow captain in a distinctive yellow Sea Tow boat is coming to assist them.”


“The company’s success and growth can be attributed to a talented team at Sea Tow Services International Inc. and a network of Sea Tow franchisees along with their captains and crew who share a passion for helping people,” she continued.


“As we look toward the future, we are excited to introduce new and expanding technologies, as well as solidify new and prominent partnerships, and expand franchise locations,” added Joseph Frohnhoefer. “We are very proud of our four decades of service and look forward to the next exciting chapter for Sea Tow.”


More on Sea Tow Services International, Inc.


Sea Tow Services International Inc., better known as Sea Tow®, has been the innovative and premier leader of on-water assistance since 1983. Servicing the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, members are provided with a 24/7 connection with Coast Guard-licensed captains. The pioneering concept, founded by Captain Joseph Frohnhoefer, was established in Southold, NY when the United States Coast Guard ceased response to non-emergency assistance calls. In 2023, Sea Tow is celebrating its 40th anniversary, marking four decades of boater assistance, safety and support. In addition to on-water assistance, the franchise network handles salvage and recovery operations, and responds to natural disasters, environmental hazards and oil spill cleanups. Visit seatow.com to learn more or follow along on Facebook and Instagram.


By ML Staff. Images courtesy of Sea Tow Services International, Inc. 


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