Officer Hamilton Gale

Assistant Vice President

Hamilton Gale

USCG 100-ton Master, Inland

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I grew up in Annapolis on Spa Creek as they say messing around in boats. The first was a wood rowboat with a five-horsepower "Monkey" Ward's Sea King outboard. My dad would take us out to Annapolis Roads to go swimming, and at that time and at that hour or so, it seemed as if we were really going somewhere. Today, of course, the boats are larger and faster and the trip to the Roads takes just a few minutes.

After my father's passing away, I moved to Maine and lived with my uncle, a high school teacher, while attending high school. It was there at I met my future wife, Bonnie.

I joined the Army in 1967 and in 1968 and 1969 I was assigned as a squad leader in the 82nd ABN Division a few miles west of Saigon.

I graduated from the University of Baltimore with a degree in business. Few jobs were available at that time, and I worked at a marine welding shop and later as a sailboat rigger. In 1983 I started Annapolis Yacht Systems, which I owned and operated for some 20 years. It seemed that every time I went out on a boat, I would end up de-grounding or towing someone home as a "Good Sam." When the Reagan administration decided that the Coast Guard could reduce our case load and stop towing vessels in non-emergency situations, it meant private industry could fill the gap and provide towing services. Thus the non-emergency towing industry was born.

I rented a boat from a friend, put a tow bit in it, painted it red and started towing. It was a little "Wild West" for some years, as there were four or five towboats in Annapolis at the time. SeaTow was in its infancy and BoatU.S. supported the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which still provided free towing when it could. Eventually BoatU.S. formed its own towing network and I was fortunate to be one of the first towcaptains to sign up.

I later closed Annapolis Yacht Systems and concentrated on Ann Bay Towing, which did business as TowBoatU.S. Annapolis. The business grew phenomenally over the next few years. We retired the old Retriever and added four boats to our growing business, which was run out of my home on Spa Creek.

Early in the 1980s a few of the towing-assistance captains from around the country met and formed C-Port, a national organization for commercial assistance towing. I served on the board for about 12 years, with one term as president. About the same time five local towers in the Bay Area decided to start their own local association. CMTAA was started and later became a chapter of C-Port. I had the privilege of being its first president and have served as a board member since its inception.

I sold Ann Bay Towing to TowBoatU.S. Baltimore and brought to a close my more than 30 years in the towing and salvage industry.