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Old 13-06-2009, 16:54   #1
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Insurance w/ Bluewater Towing?

I am hoping to be out and about on my boat (here boat...here boy!!) in about 2-3 years. I figure about 1.5 years of fully working to remodel refit and renovate as well as getting all mechanicals up to snuff. I also figure that after I get a boat that my cash flow will require another 2 years to fund the upgrades and fill the initial kitty.

One thing that I keep wondering is what happens in the case of catastrophic failure when you're way away from land?

I'm not so much worried about dying of hunger or thirst as I would no more go out without extra food and water than I would without a radio and power backup for that radio.

But one thing I am thinking is that I'm not rich, and if my boat did say die halfway to Europe, I don't want to be faced with an option in which I couldn't afford the cost to get my boat home.

So when you buy insurance, I know lots of them include towing. But do they actually offer bluewater towing? As in, will someone come get you when you're a thousand miles off shore?

What sort of limits are there on this sort of thing?
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Old 13-06-2009, 19:10   #2
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Old 13-06-2009, 19:58   #3
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Quote:
But do they actually offer bluewater towing?
No they don't. At that point it becomes salvage. No one in their right mind is going to travel days to get to you and come back with you in more days for an insurance payment. Tow companies are all over the world and getting more wide spread but there is a limit to what they can do in a practical sense.
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Old 13-06-2009, 20:15   #4
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Do policies have a common distance off shore for coverage?

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Originally Posted by drew.ward View Post

But one thing I am thinking is that I'm not rich, and if my boat did say die halfway to Europe, I don't want to be faced with an option in which I couldn't afford the cost to get my boat home.

So when you buy insurance, I know lots of them include towing. But do they actually offer bluewater towing? As in, will someone come get you when you're a thousand miles off shore?

What sort of limits are there on this sort of thing?
Insurance policies always have exclusions and thats always the first thing anyone should look at before purchasing any type of policy. No point in purchasing a billion dollar policy that excludes everything under the sun.

I'm curious, like you though, just what types of insurance policies one might purchase that provides some assistance coverage closer to shore.

Maybe Paul can answer that as well.
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Old 13-06-2009, 20:39   #5
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They all have limits. Sea Tow and Boat US sell insurance. I buy it. It's worth having for local sailing (that most folks do). They "say" unlimited until you read the fine print. I've been towed 7 miles and were I not insured the bill would have been $750. It's all by the hour from the time they leave until they get home. They won't come after you 1000 miles off shore or far less actually. No one will. You might be rescued but not the boat unless someone comes along and tows it back and claims salvage. Grabbing a boat and towing it back in hazard conditions is very very dangerous work. This isn't like towing your car 50 miles down the road.
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Old 13-06-2009, 21:20   #6
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Drew, bluewater towing insurance is the money you spend on training and spares. You invest in spare halyards and shrouds, or at least enough to jerry rig any one or two major failures. You make sure to have a set of spare sails--even if that means using the storm sails once the normal ones are gone.

You take great pains to keep your fuel clean, in multiple tanks, with spares for the fuel pump and high pressure pump and alternator, so your engine can be a spare. And, following ORC specs, carry substantial fuel for it.

And enough extra food and water (or a water maker too) so that you can afford to make your way back slowly if things go that way. Your "bluewater insurance" will be the time and money spent in solid preparations, and using due diligence at sea. That includes not setting out without a good grasp of the weather you may run into en route, or sometimes, just listening to your subsconcious when it says "We shouldn't go out today" until you can figure out WHY it is saying that.
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Old 13-06-2009, 21:52   #7
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It's a sailboat, I assume. Figure out how you are going to make it move if you have a bad day. How can you jury rig a mast to put a scrap of sail to keep going?? Using the spinnaker pole is one option. Be sure all thru hulls are in good shape/replaced and other under water pukas as good as they can be. Put a hose clamp around the propellor shaft so it can't depart the boat should the coupling fail. Keep a full set of tapered bungs to plug the known pukas. Take a collision mat and practice deploying it for a catastrophic hull failure. Have some way to steer the boat should the boat's steering fail.

You can get insurance for ocean passages but it's expensive and may require you to do some things that you can't or won't want to do. That will insure your investment in the boat but won't get it back to shore for you. For most long distance cruisers, it's not an option.

I have heard of boats being towed by a commercial vessel that happened to be in the area. Most were horror stories, the ship towing at their cruising speed above 10 knots that either tore the boat up or sunk it, outrageous fees for the tow, etc.

Other than that, it's your responsibility to get the boat into a port where you can effect repairs. It seems like way too many people go to sea figuring someone is going to be responsible for saving their bacon.

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Old 13-06-2009, 23:00   #8
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Its a good question drew, and you received a lot of good answers.
In our society we assume that there will always be someone there to bail us out when we get in over our head. The ER is there when we get into a car accident, the fireman to put out the house fire, the police when there is a burgeler in the neighborhood, and even a priest when its time for death to give you last rights or what ever your religion believes in....
But going off shore is going out in harms way. You are pretty much on your own. Sure you can radio for help, and you might get some, but you might not. A VHF only goes a short distance, line of sight. A SSB might get you someone 1000 miles away, but what are they going to do to help you now? a EPIRB will call and get you a ship, but you better be prepared to leave your vessel behind. There will be no saving it. Sure there are ocean tugs that can bring a boat across the Atlantic. But can you pay for it ? Most insurances won't even cover you more than 50 miles off shore.
So like has been said, you get self reliant.
Or stay inshore.

Good luck on your rebuild.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drew.ward View Post
I am hoping to be out and about on my boat (here boat...here boy!!) in about 2-3 years. I figure about 1.5 years of fully working to remodel refit and renovate as well as getting all mechanicals up to snuff. I also figure that after I get a boat that my cash flow will require another 2 years to fund the upgrades and fill the initial kitty.

One thing that I keep wondering is what happens in the case of catastrophic failure when you're way away from land?

I'm not so much worried about dying of hunger or thirst as I would no more go out without extra food and water than I would without a radio and power backup for that radio.

But one thing I am thinking is that I'm not rich, and if my boat did say die halfway to Europe, I don't want to be faced with an option in which I couldn't afford the cost to get my boat home.

So when you buy insurance, I know lots of them include towing. But do they actually offer bluewater towing? As in, will someone come get you when you're a thousand miles off shore?

What sort of limits are there on this sort of thing?
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Old 14-06-2009, 07:19   #9
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Marine Insurance for offshore sailing is protection against a catastrophic financial hardship. It is not a rescue service. If your boat becomes disabled halfway across an ocean, as the captain of the boat you will need to take whatever steps are necessary to protect yourself first, and your boat second. When you make it back to a safe harbor, your insurance company will then pay for the consequences - be it repairs, salvage, or a total loss. I took a claim (sent by SSB e-mail!) for a boat that lost their rudder halfway across the Pacific, and that is exactly what he did. They jury rigged the boat, limped along, steering mainly with the sails, zig-zagging along. Another boat learned of their plight on the morning SSB net and headed over to sail along with them and monitor their progress. They finally reached shore & effected a repair, which the insurance company then paid for.

Coastal insurance policies do include towing coverage, but I always recommend for people who are coastal sailing to sign up with one of the rescue/insurance programs, like Seatow or BoatUS. When you run aground on the ICW & call for help on the VHF, one of these companies is going to be the one to respond anyway, so it's much easier to just have the membership, get pulled off, and go on your way. If you just have the coverage included with your vessel's marine insurance policy, you'll have to lay out the cash to the towing company and then get reimbursed by your insurance company.
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Old 14-06-2009, 09:02   #10
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Well said....

[QUOTE=hellosailor;292779]

Well, said. I'm curious how many blue water boaters actually buy into that type of insurance. I would, if I were a blue water boater.
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Old 14-06-2009, 09:12   #11
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Saving the bacon....

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Other than that, it's your responsibility to get the boat into a port where you can effect repairs. It seems like way too many people go to sea figuring someone is going to be responsible for saving their bacon.

Aloha
Peter O.
Its not only at sea that people expect others to save their bacon, but its the one place where someone else likely won't be around to help. I'm sure the Coasties get burn out 'saving' those types.
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Old 14-06-2009, 09:33   #12
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SeaTow covered a local tow for me in Bermuda for me about three years ago. They said next time to call them first if possible and they would arrange a local tow but they paid, no problem. I don't no if the coverage extends world wide. I have a friend that snapped his rudder off on his way to Bermuda and a large motor yacht towed him in to Bemuda free of charge. Don't count on that happening again.
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Old 14-06-2009, 09:44   #13
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Good info and some very interesting points guys. I would also wonder, if say you did have to abandon your boat and get back to shore, what sorts of burdens of proof are you then left with for claiming a loss to the insurer?

A hurricane is one thing as you can pretty safely bet they're not going to argue that it happened. But I would imagine there is a decent amount of insurance fraud regarding boats.
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Old 14-06-2009, 09:47   #14
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Liability .....

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They all have limits. Sea Tow and Boat US sell insurance. I buy it. It's worth having for local sailing (that most folks do). They "say" unlimited until you read the fine print. I've been towed 7 miles and were I not insured the bill would have been $750. It's all by the hour from the time they leave until they get home. They won't come after you 1000 miles off shore or far less actually. No one will. You might be rescued but not the boat unless someone comes along and tows it back and claims salvage. Grabbing a boat and towing it back in hazard conditions is very very dangerous work. This isn't like towing your car 50 miles down the road.
Even without a tow back to shore, and even if the boat falls under international maritime salvage law, I'd think there was a continuing liability on the part of the boat owner while that boat was adrift in the open sea should it damage or sink another vessel that collided with it. That by itself calls for a prudent person to carry insurance. BoatUS has both tow insurance and liability in their policy.

Still, I am curious what the maximum distance some unknown insurance policy might allow to pay for towing back to shore. It obviously wouldn't exceed the value of the boat, so its possibly a per centage to limit the insurance company potential loss on the claim.
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Old 14-06-2009, 10:26   #15
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1) Don't confuse a BoatUS Marine Insurance policy with TowboatUS. The latter is what you want for the towing & assistance. People often buy a marine insurance policy through a marine insurer and get the inexpensive TowboatUS (or Seatow) coverage in addition for these kinds of incidents. I've heard calls go out to them in the Bahamas.

2) In some marine insurance policies, salvage costs are in addition to your coverage, and in others, they subtract from your coverage. "In addition" is obviously better. If you have a $100,000 boat and it costs $50,000 to refloat it, you want to still have that $100,000 available to repair it.

3) Once the repairs approach 50% of the value of the boat, the claims adjuster will usually start talking about calling the boat a total loss.

4.
Quote:
I am curious what the maximum distance some unknown insurance policy might allow to pay for towing back to shore.
The marine insurance company doesn't care about the distance. They care about the cost. Your policy will show a declared limit (usually $500 or $750) for towing. If you spend more than that, then you will have to pay the excess. However, I think your question really is heading the direction of "If I'm pretty far offshore, and the towing service does come out to help me, are they going to just give me a towing invoice which I can submit to my marine insurance company when I get home, or are they going to claim salvage?" which opens up a whole new can of worms....
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