Becoming a USCG-licensed Sea Tow Captain requires hours of training, testing and experience on the water. It takes commitment, fortitude and perseverance to earn the right to wear our branded life jackets. Once earned, being a Sea Tow Captain comes with the responsibility to be a positive force in the community. It’s about building relationships; whether that be with our members, fellow marine businesses or local law enforcement. Boating communities across the country are built upon these relationships and our Captains take great pride in being a driving force.
This community-focused mantra has begun to garner attention from community leaders. In recent months, two separate Florida-based franchises were recognized by their local sheriff’s office for their exemplary contributions within the communities they serve.
In April, Capt. Chris Hampton and Sea Tow St. Augustine were given the Community Partnership Award and recognized by the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at their annual awards banquet.
Sheriff David B. Shoar honored Capt. Chris for his support of the county’s life jacket program, as well as his unrelenting aid in the massive cleanup efforts following the two devastating hurricanes that swept through Florida late last summer.
“Chris Hampton and Sea Tow St. Augustine were instrumental in organizing and funding the Youth Life Jacket Loaner Program. Captain Chris not only started this important program, he continues to maintain the loaner stations throughout the county and insure they are always supplied,” Sheriff Shoar said. “Additionally, Chris and his captains have assisted us in numerous incidents and search and rescue responses. They have never hesitated to step up and help this community or the Sheriff’s Office.”
Over the course of the last several months, Capt. Chris and his team have recovered countless boats and other vessels strewn across yards, thrown into trees and scattered across marinas all over St. Johns County in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
“There have been more boats than I could even count,” Capt. Chris said. “We just wanted to do whatever we could to help this community get back to normal as quickly as possible. It’s been a true team effort and working with the Sheriff’s Office and other community members has helped us grow even closer to those we serve every day. We’re proud to have just played a part.”
In addition, Capt. Chris, with the help of Cpl. Joshua Underwood of the St. Johns Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit have jump-started a county-wide program to ensure boaters of all ages have access to properly-fitting life jackets. Similar to the Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Program, St. John’s County officials have set up self-standing stations around the county so that young boaters may borrow a life jacket for the day, free of charge.
About two hours southwest, Capt. Kerry Kline of Sea Tow Central Florida Lakes was honored with an equally-prestigious award. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office recognized Capt. Kerry and his team for their unwavering support over the past several years.
Capt. Kerry has provided safety whistles and life jackets for the Marine Unit’s response boats, as well as on-going on-water assistance whenever needed. He also sponsors the local bass fishing tournament and continues to partner with the Sheriff’s Office for Sea Tow Central Florida Lakes’ annual Toys-for-Tots Drive.
“It’s all about constantly building those relationships and helping the local community in any way we can,” Capt. Kerry said. “Sea Tow would be nothing if it weren’t for the local boating community. Without the support of the Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement, none of this would be possible. It’s truly an honor to be recognized by a group with whom we work so hard to support.”