Sea Tow captains are synonymous with expert on-water service in our distinctive yellow boats, but what many of our captains are most proud of is the work they do when they get back to shore.
Capt. Tom Kehlenbach – longtime franchisee of our Central Connecticut franchise in Old Saybrook patrols the Eastern Long Island Sound waters all year long. He meets hundreds of people – old friends and new acquaintances – as he provides tows, fuel deliveries and jump starts to boaters all throughout the area.
Central Connecticut has a strong boating culture that dates back generations, but rather than looking back at how that thriving culture got to where it is today, Capt. Tom keeps one eye heavily focused on the future – specifically on the area’s next generation of boaters.
From this forward-thinking mindset, an idea was born. Just over four years ago, Capt. Tom’s 10-year-old daughter came to him wanting to learn more about one of her father’s biggest passions – boating. Just a few months later, Sea Tow Central Connecticut hosted its first-ever “Hands on the Helm” boating safety course, where children ages 10-16 come to learn all the necessary skills to become a future boat captains.
“The Hands on the Helm course is so important to me because it all started with what I cherish most – my family,” Capt. Tom said. “In just three days, we are able to provide over 20 hours of learning in a classroom setting, out on the docks, and, most importantly, behind the helm of an actual boat as we help many of these kids discover a life-long love of boating.”
During the program, students learn a myriad of boating skills from basic things like knot-tying and boating etiquette, to using a VHF radio in emergency situations and reading GPS coordinates. Each student even gets the opportunity to pilot a 21-foot center console boat by the time they complete the course!
Capt. Tom said it’s all about preparing the next generation for a long and prosperous life on the water.
“We try and make learning these critical skills as fun as possible because these students are the future of our industry,” he continued. “These kids will be able to use what they learn here for the rest of their lives.”
Just over 130 miles east, at Sea Tow Cape and Islands, Capt. Ramsey Chason shares a similar forward-thinking attitude.
Last month, Capt. Ramsey took time out of his busy schedule as the franchisee of one of Sea Tow’s largest service areas to attend a local junior high’s career fair, where he spoke to students about what it’s like to work out on the water.
“In the past, I’ve worked with several different companies to partner and work closely with high schools and vocational schools,” Capt. Chason said, “I jumped at this opportunity because we have a very large industry that serves marine trades; whether it’s a company like Sea Tow or someone focusing on a more specialized area, like diesel engine repair. There’s a shortage of qualified marine labor all over Cape Cod and the Islands.”
In addition to the career fair, Capt. Chason and his crew at Sea Tow Cape and Islands are also helping to raise funds to send the children of local United States Coast Guard families to attend Outward Bound camps this summer.
All the way down Interstate 95, the family at Sea Tow Tampa Bay is following in those same footsteps. Cile Moreno – franchisee and president – has helped develop a hurricane preparedness seminar in conjunction with the City of St. Pete, the local Coast Guard, its auxiliary, and Tampa’s Fox Channel 13 to best prepare families for the annual hurricane season, which kicks off next month.
“We want to make sure that families are prepared for the worst and that they – along with their boats – are safe,” Cile said. “How are we going to prepare the next generation for life on the water if they don’t have a boat to take out?”
Each captain remarked that they are thrilled to be a part of a network of franchises that do so much to help and nurture the future of boating, as well as those currently out on the water.
“Sea Tow was built on the backs of a lot of thoughtful and concerned franchise owners and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this community,” Capt. Ramsey said. “These kids represent the future of boating, so helping to instill a love of the sport at an early age is incredibly fulfilling.”