TowBoatUS Knapps Narrows, MD, owned by Capt. Mary Gilmer, was awarded “Tower of the Year” at the recent annual gathering of the TowBoatUS fleet. Capt. Gilmer stands out for her longevity and service assisting Chesapeake Bay boaters. Starting the business in 1989, she’s had over three decades at the helm in a male-dominated on-water boat towing and salvage industry as well as among the 130-plus independently owned TowBoatUS towing companies across the nation.

towboatus knapps narrows
Capt. Mary Gilmer (center), owner of TowBoatUS Knapps Narrows, along with her daughter, Capt. Sarah Lawrence and son-in-law, Capt. Adam Lawrence.

After noting that she’s the quiet one and that her daughter, Captain Sarah Lawrence, usually is the one to do the company’s communications, Capt. Gilmer says, “I’m honored, but really it’s the entire team that wins because it takes us all to make it work—that includes other towers on the Bay; it’s everybody!”

The coveted Tower of the Year award recognizes professionalism in providing recreational boaters with 24/7 on-water towing and assistance services. This includes a near-perfect 24-hour towing dispatch operation, high customer satisfaction surveys and on-water towing case management.

Also earning the company honors was its stand-out marketing efforts and business operations. The small local business on the shores of Eastern Maryland has an outsized and engaging online media presence across the Chesapeake Bay and employs the latest dispatch technology to speed response times. The company supports environmental efforts, such as the annual Bay Paddle and ShoreRivers, and makes great efforts to give back to the community to keep boaters safe through partnerships with the nonprofit Inspired by Hannah Foundation and other local events. The company also supports the nonprofit BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water on-water training programs that educate boaters.

As noted, Capt. Gilmer’s daughter, Capt. Sarah Lawrence, handles marketing as well as dispatch. Her son-in-law, Capt. Adam Lawrence, manages the company’s fleet of three towing and response vessels. During peak season, the company employs up to 13 staff from towing captains to divers, contributing to the rural region’s local economy.

What is Capt. Gilmer excited about as spring approaches? “I love life,” she exclaims. “We’re excited for the upcoming boating season. We’re ready to go. I’m thankful for this award and my team.”

TowBoatUS Knapps Narrows is also a member of the Accredited for Commercial Assistance and Professional Towing program, a member of the Chesapeake Bay Assist Association that assists with good Samaritan rescues on the Bay, and part of a nationwide network of more than 600 red TowBoatUS towboats at 300-plus locations that respond to more than 80,000 requests annually for routine on-water assistance.

Reach the team at the BoatUS App, on VHF channel 16, by phone at (410) 745-3000 or by the BoatUS toll-free 24/7 Dispatch Center at (800) 391-4869.