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Old 20-03-2011, 11:16   #1
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Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

- I was snorkeling with my Grand kids this morning and heard a very load bang and looked up to see this boat being towed by -I beleave Sea Tow - had its mast broken on the Blue Heron Bridge(Riveria Beach Fl)- something to consider when being towed or towing someone- I think I would have creeped up to the bridge to see if it would have cleared-
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Old 20-03-2011, 14:28   #2
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

Expensive mistake. You'd assume a professional tow skipper would know what questions to ask: "How tall is your mast", and what answers to have "Clearance under the bridge is mast minus three feet".

So unless that sailboat had existing rigging issues or a big hole near the waterline, this could've been solved the ol' bag of water way, right?
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Old 20-03-2011, 14:51   #3
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

Well one of the reasons Sea Tow charges as uch as they do is to cover their insurance costs. Looks like someone's getting a new rig...
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Old 20-03-2011, 14:51   #4
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

Sea\\Tow boats are YELLOW......Boat US boats are RED!!!!!!!!!
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Old 20-03-2011, 15:04   #5
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

He probably asked and got the wrong answer.
I've heard people give there mast height as what the height of there mast, not including deck to water distance.
Has boat crossing thru a bridge in La. last year ahead of me approaching a drawbridge in front of me that wasn't slowing down and yelled to him on the radio to stop and wait for the bridge to open. He said he had plenty of clearance, bridge tender heard me and closed the barriers, started blowing his horn and barely got the bridge open in time.
Mast was about 3' taller than the roadway, exactly the same as me. as we had the same boats and he insisted he was shortet.

Sounds like to screw ups where you were at RAM, the towboay and the skipper of the boat also for running into the bridge. It's a shame, but thank goodness for insurance. Hope everyone was okay..
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Old 20-03-2011, 17:41   #6
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

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Originally Posted by Unicorn Dreams View Post
He probably asked and got the wrong answer.
I've heard people give there mast height as what the height of there mast, not including deck to water distance.
Has boat crossing thru a bridge in La. last year ahead of me approaching a drawbridge in front of me that wasn't slowing down and yelled to him on the radio to stop and wait for the bridge to open. He said he had plenty of clearance, bridge tender heard me and closed the barriers, started blowing his horn and barely got the bridge open in time.
Mast was about 3' taller than the roadway, exactly the same as me. as we had the same boats and he insisted he was shortet.

Sounds like to screw ups where you were at RAM, the towboay and the skipper of the boat also for running into the bridge. It's a shame, but thank goodness for insurance. Hope everyone was okay..

I put my finger to the screen and the bent part sort of fits to the deck-to-water distance.
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Old 20-03-2011, 21:09   #7
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

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Originally Posted by captain465 View Post
Sea\\Tow boats are YELLOW......Boat US boats are RED!!!!!!!!!
I've seen them doing things much more stupid than this... some don't even know that high tide is at different times in different places... the one who sent that one out to tow boats off reefs must have been as clueless.

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Old 21-03-2011, 08:57   #8
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

My results from them have been mixed. Something to keep in mind. Emergency towing is generally low pay, intermittent kind of work. The experienced mariners with years of working an area can generally get a crew boat or tug position that pays better and is steady hours. The big bill you pay to get towed is split between the operator, the boat owner, the local company, and the national company. After waiting maybe days or weeks for the ins. to pay up. That is after waiting days to weeks for a call. They also get a lot of false calls, when some one panics and calls them only to float off or get a tow from a passing power boat before the rescue tower arrives. He still has to put the boat in the water, and burn gas, and often there is no one there when he arrives.

I always buy the annual towing, and consider it an investment to motivate one of these companies to keep a boat on site in case I need it.

This probably could have been prevented by the sailboat owner staying on the boat with a radio tuned to a prearrainged channel with the tow operator, and keeping a lookout. They do make mistakes.
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Old 21-03-2011, 09:11   #9
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

Not only do you need to know the mast height from the water line to the truck, but also the tidal difference that may be in play at any bridge you desire to transit under.
Questions to asK: Did the tow boat operator get the correct mast height?
Did the tow boat operator know what the height of tide would be at time of transit?
Was it a bridge that could have opened? And if it could, why didn't he wait for it to open?
Could the sail boat have been heeled over to reduce its mast height.

So there are some questions to ask and ponder on.
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Old 21-03-2011, 17:16   #10
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

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Not only do you need to know the mast height from the water line to the truck, but also the tidal difference that may be in play at any bridge you desire to transit under.
huh? every bridge has a scale that shows height above water... no need to know the tide, just read the clearance from the scale.

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Old 22-03-2011, 21:46   #11
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

The Tow Boat US Captain never asked the owner/skipper his mast height. Foreign registered boat and crew. Boat clearance above water line is 64'. Owner/skipper saw bridge markings 62' (exceptional high tides due to Moon, registered US Government clearance at Blue Heron bridge 65') when nearing bridge but unable to notify Tow Boat US Captain in time. Tow Boat US captain dragged sail boat under Blue Heron bridge and now refuses liability after previously admitting full responsibility. Does any one know the US law?
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Old 22-03-2011, 22:14   #12
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

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Originally Posted by capn_billl View Post
Emergency towing is generally low pay, intermittent kind of work. The experienced mariners with years of working an area can generally get a crew boat or tug position that pays better and is steady hours.
But some of them do it just for the joy of being on the water and messing around with boats and take great pride in their seamanship. I know one of those and I'm sure the pay is the last thing on his mind when he does it in his off hours.


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Old 22-03-2011, 23:32   #13
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

I had dealings with a BoatsUS tow once. The operator was 100 ton licensed. But before he towed us he was worried that we would run into him because of the short line in close quarters. So I pulled out the drogue. The guys lit up with surprise and said "I need to get one of those".
And during the tow, we were under radio communication the whole time.

I think most of theses operators are power boat people and have little experience with the ramifications of a sailboat's equipment.

So sailors beware! If you get towed, act as if you were under your own power.

As for liability, if a tug is towing a barge, the Captain of the tug is responsible. And I would think the same with anyone towing anything even skiers.
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Old 23-03-2011, 05:01   #14
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

Still believe a little liability be should be against the sailboat. When he saw that he was going into danger, he should have cast off and dropped anchor. I know that sounds hard, but that is how the Yow companies lawyers will state their case.

It stinks, I know..
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Old 23-03-2011, 05:15   #15
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Re: Sailboat under tow had mast broken off on the Blue Heron Bridge-today

I can say it is FAR more often the towboat skipper encounters inept crew /skipper on the distressed vessel. Many skippers' only qualification is being able to sign the check. Not saying towboat captains are perfect, as everyone has to start out somewhere, but just in overall percentages, professional captains are better mariners than the weekend warriors any day. Many, in fact MOST weekend warriors have ZERO schooling on vessel operation!
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