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Capt. Tim Brock aboard one of TowBoatUS Mexico Beach’s response vessels.

TowBoatUS Mexico Beach Captain Becomes an Official Owner

For the last two years Capt. Tim Brock has been assisting boaters in the Mexico Beach area of Florida’s Panhandle as the operator of TowBoatUS Mexico Beach, an on water towing and assistance service for recreational boaters. In January he and his fiancé, Sandra Ward, became the company’s official owners. “I love doing this work,” said Brock, who is a USCG-licensed captain. When he learned that Capt. Shane O’Neal, who runs two other TowBoatUS ports along the Panhandle, was willing to sell the business to him, he was quick to sign on the dotted line.

Since he began operating the TowBoatUS port in 2014, Capt. Brock and Ward, who serves as first mate and deckhand on most boater assists, have helped scores of boaters who needed fuel, a battery jump, help getting off a sandbar or a tow on account of a mechanical breakdown. Much like an auto club for boaters, TowBoatUS offers Unlimited on water towing plans for saltwater boaters and anglers for just $158 a year that includes BoatUS membership. Without a towing plan, boaters face costs that average $750 per incident nationally.

The most interesting call, Brock said, came last Christmas day when BoatUS members aboard a 42-foot steel-hulled, double-masted sailboat used their BoatUS Towing App to request assistance. The boat, which had lost engine power and all electronics days before and was having trouble making way in the Gulf of Mexico, had notified the Coast Guard of its difficulties, and the USCG was broadcasting hourly notices asking mariners to keep an eye out for the vessel. Brock, knowing local wind patterns and the sailboat’s original position, guessed that it would drift into the Mexico Beach area, and sure enough it did.

Instead of putting their turkey in the fryer, Brock and Ward headed out to the disabled boat Christmas afternoon and towed it to a nearby marina. The story of how the boat came to need assistance is a cautionary tale. The boaters, who had little on-the-water experience and did not know how to sail, had just purchased the boat. They headed on an offshore route from Pensacola to the Florida Keys, assuming that with a good engine and GPS they’d have no trouble. Instead, when they lost power and electronics, they had to rely on their sails and a Boy Scout compass to help them head to shore. “They learned a lot,” said Brock, who has since become friends with the boaters.

TowBoatUS Mexico Beach covers a vast area that stretches from Indian Pass to Crooked Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and includes both inland and offshore waters, including the Intracoastal Waterway, the Apalachicola River system, Lake Wimico, St. Joe Bay and the Gulf of Mexico up to 50 miles offshore. 

Brock has two boats, both painted bright red with the words “TowBoatUS“ emblazoned on their hulls, a 24-foot Wellcraft center console with a 225-horsepower outboard and a 23-foot Wellcraft, also with a 225-horsepower engine. They are both rigged for towing and salvage, with powerful pumps, battery jump packs, dive gear and extra fuel. He currently keeps both on trailers near his home because his coverage area is so large, and it is faster to launch at the ramp closest to the boater who needs help. “It can take us three hours to get to some locations by boat, but we can be there in a half hour when we drive there and launch nearby,” he said.

TowBoatUS Mexico Beach can be hailed on VHF channel 16 or reached by calling Brock directly at 850-630-0755, or by calling the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at 800-391-4869, and via smartphone with the free BoatUS Towing App. More information can be found at or by calling 800-888-4869. 



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