Captain Roger Slade, a marine safety expert and former CoastGuardsman who has been helping Salish Sea boaters get safely homefor more than 10 years with his Vessel Assist operations in PortTownsend and Port Hadlock, Wash., has opened a new Vessel Assistport on the Hood Canal. Why now? "The north end of the Hood Canal was at the extremesouthern end of our territory," said Slade, who startedworking with Vessel Assist in 2001 and became owner of VesselAssist Port Townsend/Port Hadlock in 2005. "When we got a callfrom someone on the canal, it would take us more than an hour and ahalf to get there." Nobody liked that, so this spring Slade expanded his operation andopened Vessel Assist Hood Canal. The assist boat, a red 26-footaluminum Munson with "Vessel Assist" on the hull, cantravel at 35 knots and Slade expects to be able to reach boaterswho call for assistance within about half an hour. |
The boat willdivide its time between Pleasant Bay Marina in Brinnon in thenorthern part of the canal and Hood Canal Marina at Union in theBig Bend area in the south Much like an auto club for recreational boaters, Vessel Assist, aprogram of Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS),offers on-the-water towing service plans for salt waters that costjust $149 a year and include BoatUS or BoatUS Angler membership. Without a towingplan, boaters face out-of-pocket costs that nationally averageabout $600 per incident, or $250 per hour. The word canal suggests a manmade waterway, but the Hood, whichforms the westernmost lobe of the Puget Sound, is a natural fjord,about a mile-and-a half-wide and 70 miles long. Remote andextraordinarily beautiful with the Olympic Mountains rising 10,000feet on the western side and the bluffs of the Kitsap Peninsula tothe east, the Hood Canal is becoming an increasingly popularboating area, according to Slade.
The canal is renowned for itsgood fishing, world-famous Hamma Hamma oysters, and the unusuallywarm water at the southern end where boaters come to water-ski orswim. With the opening of new marina facilities, many cruisingboats are heading there as well. Slade, who spent summers on the Washington coast as a boy, moved tothe Olympic Peninsula in 2001 after a career that included maritimejobs all over the United States as well as work in architecture andgraphic design. "I had to get out of the office and back tothe water," he said. He picked Puget Sound, "because thewater was still pristine, and there was still a chance to keep itthat way." Now he owns a business that gets him out on thewater almost every day, and he couldn't be happier about it.
Vessel Assist Hood Canal is on call 24 hours a day, seven days aweek to assist anyone who has engine problems, runs out of fuel orruns aground. Their bright-red towboat is fully rigged for towingand salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear andextra fuel. Slade and the captains who work for his Vessel Assistoperations have USCG Captain's Licenses and are accredited by theNational Association for the Marine Assistance Industry. Boaters can contact Vessel Assist Hood Canal by hailing on VHFchannel 16, calling 360-301-9764 or calling the BoatUS toll-freeDispatch Service at 800-391-4869. To see the location on a map goto /hoodcanal.
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is thenation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing overhalf a million members with a wide array of consumer services,including on-the-water towing assistance provided by TowBoatUS andVessel Assist. Combined, these two towing fleets offer boaters,anglers and sailors the world's largest network of towing portswith over 300 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels -more than double that of any other service provider. Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 May 2012 ).
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