Courtesy Chris Day
After an early career in law enforcement, Capt. Chris Day bought a TowBoatU.S. franchise on Lake Allatoona in Georgia, and has since purchased two others in Florida. Besides providing towing services, Day has been a staunch safety advocate, including offering boating training to first responders and working with youth life jacket programs. We caught up with him about his passion for boats and boating.
How long have you been a professional captain?
Between my prior career in law enforcement as well as my second career as a TowBoatU.S. owner and response vessel captain, I have been involved with water operations for about 12 years.
How long have you worked with TowBoatU.S.?
I purchased my first TowBoatU.S. location on Georgia’s Lake Allatoona in 2019.
How did you get involved with training and tactical skills for first responders?
Training has always been close to my heart ever since my law enforcement career. When I was a young narcotics officer, my Captain focused on training every day. He would always say you’re only going to be as good as you train. I have carried that mindset with me throughout my career and into TowBoatU.S.
You also train high schoolers in boating safety?
Yes, for the past couple of years we have teamed up with the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water and the National Safe Boating Council to bring free or very affordable on-water training to hundreds of local teenagers in the ninthto the 12th grade. We start out with just doing a quick walk around of the vessel to get the teens familiar with the boat. This is a great program for the teens because we then actually put them behind the helm and in stressful scenarios so they can become safe and responsible boaters. The teens we have trained to date have all expressed how good the class is saying it’s, fun, exciting, challenging and an overall great learning experience.
What’s the first thing you teach in safety training?
The importance of life-jacket safety. A personal floatation device (PFD) is the best life-insurance policy you can have on a boat, but you have to be wearing it for the PFD to work. We try to push that life jackets are no longer looked as being uncool or just for non-swimmers. Teens really want to fit in and we really try to push the envelope a little by trying to show that true experienced boaters wear their PFD. Being smart with your life jacket is also being cool.
Any examples of putting your training to work on the water with TowBoatU.S.?
My three TowBoatU.S. locations in Georgia and Florida (Okeechobee and Labelle) have weekly training. We try to meet up with US Coast Guard, sheriff’s offices and game wardens to get good working relationships with them and it makes everyone feel a little more comfortable working with each other.
Working and training with local first responders in our areas allow us to show them our resources from locating stolen vehicles under water for them to assisting them in scanning for drowning victims.
Recently on Lake Allatoona we had a drowning and were requested by a local agency to assist in the recovery with our sonar equipment. We arrived on scene and our captains and crew knew exactly what to do without any long, drawn-out conversations between agencies. This thankfully resulted in the victim being recovered within a matter of hours instead of days.