Need a tow?
Local native Capt. Jackson Dozier launches new business on Lake Martin
Story by Natalie Nettles
After Alexander City native Jackson Dozier graduated from Benjamin Russell High School in 1998, he left town to pursue a career on the water.
Since then, Jackson has become a certified diving instructor and a licensed boat captain and has lived and worked in exotic places like Grand Cayman and the Bahamas. He also spent three years in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, Fla. running towboats and towing offshore for the company that he would eventually partner with here on Lake Martin and, most recently, lived in Ketchikan, Alaska, where he ran a 78-foot catamaran to the Misty Fjords for a local tour company.
But now, Jackson is returning home to more familiar waters: Lake Martin. And he’s bringing his talents and his family (wife Nicki and 8-month-old daughter Morgan) with him.
Jackson, who earned his captain’s license in 2002 and has a 100-ton near coastal master’s license with a towing and sailboat endorsement, recently launched TowBoatU.S. Lake Martin, a marine towing and salvage company that is a division of TowBoatU.S., the nation’s largest network of on-water towing services.
“It’s similar to roadside assistance for your car, but this is in the water,” Nicki explained.
The membership-based company has been up-and-running on Lake Martin since March 1 of this year, and provides its members 24/7 services such as on-water towing, soft ungroundings, fuel delivery and battery jumps.
“Membership is $58 a year for unlimited fresh water tows from TowBoatU.S., and what that covers is: if you break down on the water for any reason, we’ll come out and tow you back 24 hours per day, seven days a week, year round,” Jackson said. “If your battery dies, we’ll come out and jump you off and get you on your way. If you run out of fuel, we can deliver fuel to you. If you run aground for any reason, at night or during the day, we can come pull you off. That’s all covered under the membership services.”
Jackson said services are also available for non-members starting at $175 per hour, and additional services the company offers include: salvaging, diving services, debris and waste removal, event set up and in-water hull cleaning.
The company’s “home base” is located in Blue Creek, and they estimate a 30-minute response time to anywhere on the lake. In addition, Jackson and Nicki emphasized that membership is nationwide and covers each member’s entire fleet.
“Your membership follows you, so if you have three different boats, it covers all of them,” Nicki said. “If you’re on your Sea Doo, your pontoon boat, or your ski boat, it covers all of them. But if you’re on your best friend’s boat, then they need a membership.”
So far, Nicki said that TowBoatU.S. Lake Martin has gained about 15 or 20 new members, but there are about 800 BoatU.S. members within a 50-mile radius who have signed up through fellow TowBoatU.S. networks.
The Lake Martin business is family owned and operated, with Jackson handling everything on the water and Nicki handling all the behind-the-scenes operations, such as dispatch and the company’s media plan.
“We’re planning on hiring some more people,” Jackson said. “Right now we’ve got to get our name out there and let everybody know we’re on the lake and available 24/7 to come out and help them. Once that happens, hopefully this summer when it gets a little busier we’ll have that second boat and a second person. To run our boats we require a captain’s license – a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license with a towing endorsement.”
Jackson and Nicki said they are excited to provide this new service to boaters on Lake Martin. But most importantly, they’re looking forward to raising their daughter in the same area where Jackson grew up.
“Once our daughter Morgan came along, we knew it was time to make a move and really look to our future,” Nicki said. “We needed to make a decision where we wanted to raise our family and how we wanted to make a living doing it.”
In all, Jackson said that being home on Lake Martin after more than a decade away is “great.”
“It’s been something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said. “It’s been great being back home, and a lot of fun. Everybody has really welcomed us back to the community.”
“And the most important thing is that we’re around family,” Nicki added. “This is a beautiful lake and it’s so nice to be on the water still. Being on the water is just a way of life for us. Neither one of us wanted to give up being on the water.”
Those interested in membership with TowBoatU.S. Lake Martin can sign up at the following participating Lake Martin marinas: Blue Creek, Real Island, Kowaliga, River North, The Ridge, Anchor Bay, Cathouse and Lakeside. They may also enroll over the phone at 256-307-1313 or online at www.towboatuslakemartin.com.