Story last updated at 6/26/2013 - 1:43 pm
"If you're aground, I'm around," said Captain John Melino, who has been providing Southeast Alaska with marine transit and recreation for the past two years. The "SEA PIRATE" provides assistance to those mariners who need a tow or salvage. Melino offers many the opportunities to see Alaska's beauty from the water, which is an experience one will remember forever.
Melino strives to be the go-to guy for both fun and function to solving issues with our marine activities with his Multi-Purpose Fast Response Vessel "SEA PIRATE."
Melino started Melino's Marine Services two years ago in Juneau. The boat design along with the core are what drew him to the vessel, and then modified it into a Multi-Purpose Fast Response Vessel capable of dealing with our unique challenges in Southeast. The vessel is able to take a group on a whale watching tour and then turn around and be able to tow recreational and commercial vessels through ocean swells.
Melino has played a crucial part in many marine cases. Last summer, Melino was called in to assist a 79-foot F/V Linda B that had ran aground south of Hawk Inlet. With 6' feet of water in the engine room, Melino ran two pumps, with a third on back up and managed to get the boat off the beach through a kelp bed. This allowed the vessel to be towed to Hoonah Harbor for repairs. Melino said the U.S. Coast Guard personnel also responded. This was a big deal in timing and quality because the vessel had 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board.
"That would have been quite the mess," Melino said. "That's why the Coast Guard was there. I'm not trying to be the Coast Guard."
Melino is trying to save vessels. Melino said the Coast Guard's role is more for emergencies and life and death situations. His role is for helping people who need assistance, but it's not completely a critical situation for instances if a mariner runs out of gas or gets water in the fuel line, but there are no other safety factors. Another major tow that Melino was a part of was the 52-foot F/V LABYRINTH that lost her rudder and was towed 30 miles off shore in the Gulf of Alaska. The F/V LABYRINTH was successfully towed and brought to harbor for repairs.
The "SEA PIRATE" is not limited to just towing vessels. Melino responded to a small plane that was disabled out in Tracy Arm. The Coast Guard picked up the inhabitants, and Melino's was able to salvage the floatplane. Along with towing and salvage, Melino works on oil spill response vessels.
Melino has made a career out of the ocean. From Hawaii to Southeast Alaska: he has driven tour boats in Hawaii and Alaska, taught scuba diving in Hawaii, and operated a small business in Hawaii called Dive Today Hawaii.
"I'm addicted to the ocean," he said.
While working on tour boats gave Melino the opportunity to help people. Coming to Juneau he realized that no one was doing what he wanted to do - recreational and commercial boat towing and salvage, plus engaging the vessel into the fun side of marine activity.
"I know I'm not going to be able to exist on just the towing like they do Down South," Melino said. "Where I came up with this multi-purpose idea was everything I did to help people. Not just people in distress."
Melino's recreational aspect of Melino's Marine Services can include: wildlife tours, kayak at Tracy Arm and be picked up a week later, hike a trail on a mountain, but don't want to leave your boat at shore and so much more. Melino said that one challenge of doing business is getting people on board with his membership program. It costs $100, but the consumer gets $100 off per hour of service and one hour free. Melino said that membership is slowly gaining traction and that Emergency Services cost is also reimbursable by the boat owner's insurance company. Apart from that, members get priority over non-members, though Melino will do what he can to help.
"I have a 'yeah we can do that' attitude," Melino said. "I'm not afraid to ask for help. I have a lot of resources."
Melino's Marine Services is a first of its kind in Southeast Alaska and ocean lovers should take advantage of the unique opportunity provided by Melino.
Visit www.melinosmarineservices.com or call (808) 754-2602 for more information on membership or services.
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