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Capt. Junior Fonte new owner of TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake & Watts Bar Lake

by Scott Croft 30 Jul 2021 17:48 UTC
Captain Junior Fonte aboard one of his TowBoatUS response vessels. © Scott Croft

Towing recreational boats is a family affair for the Fonte household of La Vergne, Tennessee. Capt. Kirk Fonte began operating TowBoatUS Percy Priest Lake, offering 24/7 towing, battery jump-start and soft ungrounding services to recreational boaters in 2012. Now the local business that is part of a nationwide network of more than 300 TowBoatUS locations or "ports" is operated by Kirk's son, Junior. Taking the opportunity to grow the family business and support boaters throughout the Nashville region, Junior opened a second port, TowBoatUS Old Hickory Lake in 2020, and recently became the owner of two more ports, TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake and TowBoatUS Watts Bar Lake.

No stranger to helping others, Junior was a young Navy veteran at 26 when TowBoatUS Percy Priest Lake first opened and he began working for his dad as a towboat captain. Having already served four years aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Junior's time in the Navy included six months working on cleanup efforts on the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as well as responding to the Kalamazoo oil spill in Battle Creek, Michigan. Fonte's on-water experience responding in times of need has proven to be valuable in Tennessee, where helping boaters is a daily routine.

Now with TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake and TowBoatUS Watts Bar Lake, Fonte's company will be able to assist boaters across four ports and five lakes, with hopes to add a sixth lake in Center Hill soon. "We are really excited to see what we can do and to build on the terrific service that has already existed in this area," said Junior.

Much like an auto club for recreational boat owners, BoatUS offers on-water Unlimited Towing Memberships for freshwater boaters and anglers for just $90 per year. Included are more than 25 benefits and discounts, a subscription to BoatUS Magazine, free DSC-VHF radio registration, and more. Boaters without a towing membership face an average nationwide cost of $800 per incident. The top three reasons boaters most cite when requesting on water help are mechanical issues, running aground, and battery/electrical issues.

Docked at Lewisville Marina and Whispering Cove Marina, and ranging in length from 22 to 28 feet, are the company's five, 24-hour towing response vessels, easily recognized by their bright red hulls with "TowBoatUS" in white letters on each side. At the helm are professional U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captains.

Separate from BoatUS on-water towing services, the company also refloats sunken boats and provides salvage and underwater inspection services. The company's crew of four certified divers includes a divemaster with 20 years of experience who is authorized to examine the structural integrity of dams.

The fastest way to summon assistance from TowBoatUS Fort Loudon/Tellico Lake and TowBoatUS Watts Bar Lake is to download the free BoatUS App, which connects boaters to the closest local towing captain. Additionally, the company can be reached at 865-414-1626, by hailing on VHF channel 16, or by phoning the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869. More information can be found at, or by calling 800-888-4869.

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