For those who are uninitiated in the world of maritime life, a quick look at Robert Redford’s classic solo film, All Is Lost, is perhaps the best way to remember how quickly things can change on boats. It Redford’s case, he plays the role of a seasoned sailor where a sequence of events leaves his boat terminally crippled, and the protangant finds himself in the middle of the sea with no help in sight and is preparing for certain doom.
Of course, that is a worst-case scenario of what can happen on boats. But according to Adam Lawrence, one of three captains of Tow Jamm Marine, a towing and salvage company which covers from the mouth of the Chester River to the end of Taylors Island, there were close to 900 cases in this relatively small part of the Chesapeake where boats needed help of some sort.
In most situations, boats calling for Tow Jamm assistance do so for such things as running out of fuel, having dead batteries, or other equipment failures. In other cases, both sail and motor boats suffer structural damage after hitting trees or branches in the water. And for a handful of others, they are in a real emergency situation, where they have lost their mast or at risk of sinking.
When things get dicey, Tow Jamm transfers those dangerous cases over to either the Coast Guard or local law enforcement departments to handle, but for hundreds of sailors who find themselves in a jam, it is Tow Jamm, with their affiliation with BoatUS, that gets the call.
The Spy spend some time with Adam and his wife and partner, Sarah Lawrence, last week to talk about this unique family business. Started by Sarah’s parents out of Neavitt thirty years ago, Tow Jamm is really the equivalent of the AAA for maritime sailors. For a modest yearly fee starting around $100, Tow Jamm has three boats and crew in three different parts of the Bay that comes to the rescue 24/7.
And over the years, Adam and Sarah have seen it all on the Bay. And most of the time, just like the unlucky car driver calling AAA when a tire goes flat, Tow Jamm quickly responds with fuel, jumper cables, or a quick tow to a local marina for a repair job. But they have also seen some real tragedies during their time.
Nineteen people lost their lives on the Chesapeake last year, and according to Adam, the vast majority of these people could have been saved if they simply had been wearing a life preserver. That is just one of many simple things that boat captains can demand of their passengers to prevent these tragedies from taking place. Another is simply following the weather reports.
Bad luck can always part of any human activity, but the take away from Adam and Sarah as the Chesapeake sees a remarkable surge in boat activity in this post-pandemic world, don’t forget the simple stuff and sign up for Tow Jamm plan just in case.
This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Tow Jamm Marine please go here.