Captains Rick and Nancy Ellet have been operating Sea Tow at Smith Mountain Lake for five years. Sea Tow is similar to AAA, only it is for boaters.
"People break down and need to be towed," Rick Ellet says. "Jump start or fuel drop, about any assistance you need, we take care of you on the water."
While Sea Tow was not called to the accident that happened at Channel Marker B28 the week of July 4, the owners are familiar with the challenges this part of the lake can present.
If you are too close to Channel Marker B26-A or if you are coming out of the cove near it, B28 is hidden at times by a dock near where two boats have hit land in the last couple of months.
Appalachian Power manages the shoreline of Smith Mountain Lake and is aware of the accidents.
Navigating the lake at night can be tricky.
"When you are out at night this is a whole different world," Rick Ellet says.
It is a different world because the lights on land blend with lights from boats on the water and those channel markers. Depth perception can also be tricky. Since boating becomes more dangerous when the sun goes down, Rick has several tools he relies on when he heads out.
Sea Tow uses GPS, radar, navigational skills, and two-way radios.
Not everyone has the same navigational advantages as Sea Tow, which makes channel markers very important. APCO points out the two recent accidents at B28 are the only two on record over the last 16 years in that location.
To begin the process of examining a channel marker and its safety, the first step is to contact Appalachian Power about the issue. We're told no one has contacted them about B28 up to this point.