From Olympia to Lake Washington and the San Juan Islands out to Neah Bay, if you need non-emergency help while out on the water such as a few gallons of fuel, a tow or a battery jump, chances are you’ll be getting in touch with the folks at Vessel Assist … Or is it TowBoatUS?

Good question.

After TowBoatUS bought Vessel Assist over a decade ago, they are finally replacing the name Vessel Assist with TowBoatUS throughout their fleet of locations and boats. And they’re celebrating the change along with the 50-year anniversary of BoatUS at the conclusion of the Port Townsend Opening Day Parade, Saturday May 7 at the Northwest Maritime Center.

The change might be subtle, but the boats will go from looking like this...
The change might be subtle, but the boats will go from looking like this… looking like this.
…to looking like this.

“The name Vessel Assist was more recognizable to west coast boaters while TowBoatUS was better know on the east coast, but from a marketing standpoint, converting to the TowBoatUS brand from Vessel Assist was inevitable,”owner and operator of TowBoatUS Port Townsend, Roger Slade, explained. “TowBoatUS has 300 locations and over 600 boats, so it was only right to finally bring them under one name — this will be a fun event to showcase the new look.”

And though the red boats that come to provide you with assistance will all have new paint jobs, you can expect the same level of service or better according to Capt. Slade. “We’re in the process of changing over the boat’s graphics now, but other than that, not much will change for local boaters. Actually, we’re striving to have better service as we get more resources from corporate. And we can already be on the water heading to you in 15 minutes, which is very fast.”

TowBoatUS responds to over 70 thousand calls for assistance per year. They work hand in hand with local authorities and U.S. Coast Guard stations to provide everything from towing services to oil spill response. And the new BoatUS Towing app has been credited with drastically reducing response times and helping towers because it provides them with your boat’s specs and latitude and longitude.

According to Slade, that position assistance part of the app is of particular importance. “One of the biggest problems we face is people simply not knowing where they are when they call. This makes our job of getting to them quite a bit more difficult. And a lot of times it simply boils down to a lack of education.”

Join the celebration:

Check out the new TowBoatUS look during Port Townsend’s Opening Day Parade and then join the BoatUS 50th Anniversary celebration at the Northwest Maritime Center at 431 Water Street from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on May 7.

BoatUS President Margaret Bonds Podlich will host the informal, festive event with live music provided by Port Hadlock’s Lobo del Mar, hors d’oeuvres and prizes – including a drawing for a Star Clippers cruise for two. “It’s a way to gather and thank our BoatUS members for their continued support over the years, and to get with other boaters to talk boating,” said Podlich. The event is open to BoatUS members as well as any friends of the association. All event details and history information is posted at

Find a TowBoatUS location near you:

TowBoatUS Friday Harbor handles the San Juan Islands.

TowBoatUS Anacortes runs out of Deception Pass and covers the northern portion of Whidbey Island and the Anacortes area.

TowBoatUS Port Townsend covers Hood Canal, out past Port Angeles and then back to Smith Island, and down to Possession Point.

TowBoatUS Puget Sound has boats ready to go in Olympia, Tacoma, Eagle Harbor and Everett.

And TowBoatUS Lake Washington covers the lakes.

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