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Old 19-07-2013, 06:11   #76
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post
It wasn't really a choice, but rather a confluence of circumstances.

I'm not in any way excusing the fact that I made an error. I'm questioning the legitimacy of using "salvage" to charge $675 for a 25 minute tow. Since I'm very unaware of reasonable towing charges, what would you have expected as a towing charge for picking up the boat?
One error would be a "circumstance". You used too little scope, picked an area to anchor too small compounding the first error, didn't bother to verify the holding conditions and were over-confident.

As to the $$' you got away with a cheap charge. You could have just as easily caused thousands of dollars in damages or worse.

Consider yourself lucky.
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Old 19-07-2013, 06:14   #77
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
I think we should lighten up on the OP about dragging. If you anchor long enough you are going to drag, probably on many occasions.



However, there are always some lessons to learned. I would point a couple of things about the above statement that is incorrect.
1. Unless you are in strong wind (say 35 knots +) you cannot judge the scope another boat has out by the angle of the rode. In light/moderate winds the rode angle visible at the bow will be much the same if the scope is 2:1, or 20:1.
If you have a similar scope, rode and boat type to your neighbours boats can anchor close together on long scopes without any risk of collision.

The only way to know what scope you neighbours have out is too ask (or in nice clear water look).
There is a lot of difference between dragging anchor while on anchor watch or coming back to find that your boat has drifted off and then wingeing about the cost of recovery.
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Old 19-07-2013, 06:26   #78
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Great Salt Pond is notorious for boats dragging.
A poor bottom and 30+ foot depths require a lot of scope which many don't use.
Leaving a boat anchored there overnight is asking for trouble, particularly on a crowded holiday. The yellow moorings by the CG station are where the drifters end up and leave from - somewhat embarrassed to reanchor.

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Old 19-07-2013, 06:32   #79
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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There is a bit of difference between dragging anchor while on anchor watch and coming back to find that your boat has drifted off and then wingeing about the cost of recovery.
I guess my point was its not uncommon. There are usually a few unoccupied boats I "save" each year.
The last one was 2 Amel 55s in the same anchorage.

They didn't whinge about the cost because there was not any.
Although they were kind enough to make some donations from their cellar.
Hint: always save the French boats first they have the best wine
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Old 19-07-2013, 06:56   #80
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

I am an assistance tower as a second career and fun job....

There's not a lot of money to be made in the business because of overhead otherwise there would be towboats all over the place. So using the word greedy, pirate or anything else is obtuse and I would love to know how you earn(ed) your money.

Doesn't matter if the job was labeled salvage or routine tow....if it went to maritime court it would have only been paid as a "routine tow maybe plus a tad more" because of the conditions and overall situation...there are plenty of cases on record and on the internet to review to show that time and materials would have been all that was granted. The actual use of the word salvage may even be in question by sheer definition...but on a customer invoice...it's again not important in the end because the court would determine.

I liken this situation to parking legally but the time changes and now you are illegally parked. A neighbor calls the tow company and off goes your car. You pay lot's more than if it was just broken and you needed it towed to the garage. Just the nature of the game.

As someone said....a $675 bill is the going rate for this type of operation and could have been a lot more even for a time and materials job....like if you went ashore and didn't return to your boat that day....the bill would have probably soared.

Towers charge from the time they leave the dock till they return including all the time waiting for someone, writing up the bill, etc, etc. In some places the charges can exceed $400/hr.
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:03   #81
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

While a full time cruiser, and having dragged anchor, I realized a few things.

Don't anchor too close to other boats
If you must anchor with short scope, or close to other boats, and have to leave the boat (out of beer, etc) drop a second hook. Actually, while cruising I used 2 hooks 95% of the time, if staying overnight, or leaving the boat.

I think this habit was a result of a time I anchored, when bringing my boat home after buying it, and one morning we woke up 1/4 mile from where we anchored!!
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:22   #82
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by svmariane View Post
Would the OP be willing to post on the forum a copy of the tow company invoice? Just to clarify the situation. (Names can be blocked to protect... etc.)

OP claims it's a "salvage" charge; lotta talk on here about a towing charge.

Got witnesses?
There was no invoice. I got a sheet of paper taped to my vessel saying my anchor dragged and my vessel would be released after I called a certain number. The credit card charge line item simply states the name of the company.

The salvage vs. towing discussion came up because the tow boat operator told me that salvage laws allowed him to take possession of my vessel since it was dragging anchor. Also, in my reading I learned that costs for "salvage" can be huge, while towing is more a time & materials issue.

As far as witnesses, I found a fellow sailor who witnessed the incident. In his email he said that the Samaritan had tied up my boat to his stern, everything looked fine and stable, and then the tow boat showed up and took my boat to the emergency mooring.
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:32   #83
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by Don L View Post
I wonder what the OP wants us to tell him, so we could be done with it.
Why would you want to be "done with it"? Isn't this type of discussion the entire purpose of this forum? There's input on towing vs salvage charges, distinctions between towing and salvage, discussion on Block Island as a destination as well as anchoring conditions at Block Island and what to be concerned about.

To answer you directly, what I want to know is 1. Was it a "tow" or "salvage" that occurred? and 2. Is $675 for what was done reasonable.

Prior to this thread, I had no concept as to what towing charges are, and I'm learning as I read and respond.

Isn't that why this forum exists in the first place?

Tanksalot
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:35   #84
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post
There was no invoice. I got a sheet of paper taped to my vessel saying my anchor dragged and my vessel would be released after I called a certain number. The credit card charge line item simply states the name of the company.

The salvage vs. towing discussion came up because the tow boat operator told me that salvage laws allowed him to take possession of my vessel since it was dragging anchor. I believe this to be true as there may have been "damage" to your boat if left on it's own. However if safely tied to another vessel...then "salvage" could certainly be questioned unless that vessel you were tied to called the towboat and wanted your vessel gone...then it gets a little grey. Also, in my reading I learned that costs for "salvage" can be huge, while towing is more a time & materials issue. Read more....

As far as witnesses, I found a fellow sailor who witnessed the incident. In his email he said that the Samaritan had tied up my boat to his stern, everything looked fine and stable, and then the tow boat showed up and took my boat to the emergency mooring.
You can try to fight it...you can try to negotiate it...but my experience says that from what has been stated so far is that a company authorized to do what it did for a charge that is "reasonable in the business" (just not to some of the people here)....is going to win hands down in almost any legal arena.

The only out I see is if you can contact the "mystery boat" or get a hold of some official transcript of the conversation between the tow company and that boat that shows the towing company did something illegal or unethical.
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:41   #85
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

What most boaters should learn from this discussion (other than the anchoring discussion which in my mind is or should be another thread to keep it simple) is to have towing insurance and better understand covered services and what is not (which often means salvage).

Just so the "pirate thing" doesn't get out of hand....I'm pretty sure the guy I work for and probably many others would have covered this as a covered tow under membership rather than try and make it a "salvage".
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:41   #86
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Last thing I am going to say on this issue.

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post
It wasn't really a choice, but rather a confluence of circumstances. After anchoring with what I judged to be sufficient scope considering the crowded conditions, weather, wind and depth, my wife and I were on board for 5 hours without any indication of a problem. We would never, never have left if I had any suspicion that the anchor would not hold or was questionable. Doing so would have been grossly irresponsible, and there was also no way I could relax ashore if I wasn't certain the boat was safely anchored. At that time I had NO KNOWLEDGE of Block Island's notoriety as a poor holding ground, or I would have acted very differently.
While you are admitting you made an error, you are also refusing to take personal responsibility. It was YOUR CHOICE to anchor in the manner that you did. While you may not like what the other options were, you had other options. "Sorry family, it's unsafe for us to stay here so we have to go back home or to another port." How did you not expect the crowded anchorage on a holiday weekend? You're like the guy in , you show up to a crowded anchorage after everyone is already set and just cause havoc.

You are the skipper of your boat. You are responsible for all actions that occur with your boat. You had other choices but chose to exercise poor judgment.

For you to claim you didn't know about the bad holding is another place you are avoiding taking responsibility. Have you never read the cruising guide for the area or been on Active Captain? The first review on Active Captain talks about the poor holding in that part of the salt pond.

Many of us don't mind helping out other cruisers/boaters. On numerous occasions I have grabbed my tool bag and headed over to another boat to help people out. When I find that the motor has no oil and is smoking hot and that the owner doesn't know the last time he checked the oil, impeller or coolant, I pack my tools back up and tell him he needs a mechanic. If you can't be bothered to the basic things, why should anyone else be inconvenienced by your ignorance?

Quote:
I'm not in any way excusing the fact that I made an error. I'm questioning the legitimacy of using "salvage" to charge $675 for a 25 minute tow. Since I'm very unaware of reasonable towing charges, what would you have expected as a towing charge for picking up the boat?
As I said before, be glad it was only $675. They obviously decided to charge you T&M rather than a % of the boat value salvage claim. Tow/salvage companies will charge an hourly rate (typically dependent on weather and time of day and ranging from $200-500) from portal to portal. On a holiday weekend, $300 per hour wouldn't be out of line. So if their home base is, say in Point Judith Pond because it is expensive to maintain a commercial slip on Block Island, that would be about 15 nm away. Probably about an hour at a conservative speed. So 2 hours of travel and 0.5 hours of work would be $750. A tow company may chose to stage a boat in the Salt Pond on a busy weekend and that is their risk to take. It is still standard industry practice to charge portal to portal.

I've been towed once. My engine died while powering out of the river my marina is in. We managed to get onto a dock further down in my marina. I tried to fix the engine, couldn't and saw a Towboat U.S. vessel towing someone into the marina. We decided to just call Towboat (we have the tow insurance) and have them tow us back to our slip so I could spend the time to diagnose the problem. He spent less than 15 minutes towing and already was in the marina from his home base about 45 minutes away. The charge to Towboat (the individual operators charge the national service for each tow covered by the insurance) was about $500. It included a hour each way back to his home base.

There is a lot of information out there about the difference between towing and salvage. As a skipper you really need to know the difference because how you report your problem to a tow boat operator could be the difference getting tow bill or a salvage claim. A general rule of thumb is that towing is just getting you in quicker. As a sailboat, we can always sail in. It might not be the quickest or easiest way but you can do it. If you have no sails on your boat, no oars and your engine just seized up, you might be in a salvage claim if you don't report it right to the tow boat. Boat U.S. also has a salvage contract. You should have several copies of this you boat. Never sign the tow boat's salvage contract. When a tow boat does a salvage there are 3 ways it can get paid: 1) fixed fee negotiated before the salvage, 2) time and materials spent to do the salvage or 3) as a percentage of the boats value. The last one is typically done based on a negotiation with your insurance company, an arbitrator or in court.

In my opinion, you were salvage. Your boat was likely to due damage to other vessels or the environment and the tow boat acted to intervene. Yes, the other vessel had tied you up temporarily but it was not their responsibility to hold onto your boat until you returned. They may have wanted to leave, go ashore, or were just worried that they would now drag or swing funny with the extra boat. They passed off your boat to the tow company, relinquishing their rights to salvage. The tow company looked at your boat and decided to go with a T&M charge for salvage. If you had a late model Benny or something, they might have gone after your insurance company for salvage value of the boat. Be grateful that didn't happen, pay your bill and make better decisions in the future, starting with paying the $135 a year for Towboat U.S. unlimited saltwater towing.

Also, I have heard from others that if you boat washes up in the Salt Pond, that Block Island hits you with a heavy environmental fine for causing damage. Another cost you avoided thanks to the tow company and the other boat that tied you off temporarily.
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Old 19-07-2013, 07:53   #87
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

I yahoo searched "anchoring Block Island"

and this is what popped up as the first entry....

Which Anchor NOT to Use ? Where to Anchor ? - Block Island, RI

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Old 19-07-2013, 07:54   #88
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

This IS an interesting discussion and it raises MANY issues. The one that concerns me is how this escalated into a windfall for this tow operation. It seems to me... that in a busy harbor, just as Newport or Great Salt Pond the harbor master is there to see that things run smoothly and to assist boaters. As an aside, I have found the harbor master in Newport... and there are many in that post and several boats are superlative and really have the harbor running well. They are extremely helpful... such as assisting boaters with fouled anchors or securing boats which break free. I've never seen a tow operator working in that harbor.. but I am quite sure that many boats have dragged when the owners were ashore and the boat was taken care of. I witness this 2 weeks ago. I also witnessed a guy in a dink unfouling two boats that got twisted up in slack tide. I was heading to do it myselh and when I saw the other guy I assumed it was his boat. But No, he was just being a good samaritan. Good for him!

There are many legal issues which seem to be in play in the case of the OP. But perhaps this is where the law is not sensible and people seem to be inhibited from doing the right thing for fear of being sued. That may be true, but it's a sorry state of affairs. Heck we're not talking about aiding a car crash victim and doing more harm than good. This was a boat which could have EASILY been re anchored... or rafted until the owner returned. No big deal.

The fees to tow a boat 1/2 mile inside the pond is thivvery. FULL STOP. I'd love to see that guy's towboat sinking. I'd give him a taste of his own medicine. People need to HELP each other at sea... not exploit each other.

And to the idiot who mentioned that the OP must have been real flush with cash because he was anchored in BI on July 4th needs to show some humility and stop reaching for his own stupid notions of who boats, where and when.

I would take this up with the Harbor Master and the AG in RI. This was nothing sort of abuse and exploitation. That sort of thing should be the franchise of the Harbor Master.... and the tow guy should stick to working outside the pond.
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Old 19-07-2013, 08:06   #89
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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This IS an interesting discussion and it raises MANY issues. The one that concerns me is how this escalated into a windfall for this tow operation. It seems to me... that in a busy harbor, just as Newport or Great Salt Pond the harbor master is there to see that things run smoothly and to assist boaters. As an aside, I have found the harbor master in Newport... and there are many in that post and several boats are superlative and really have the harbor running well. They are extremely helpful... such as assisting boaters with fouled anchors or securing boats which break free. I've never seen a tow operator working in that harbor.. but I am quite sure that many boats have dragged when the owners were ashore and the boat was taken care of. I witness this 2 weeks ago. I also witnessed a guy in a dink unfouling two boats that got twisted up in slack tide. I was heading to do it myselh and when I saw the other guy I assumed it was his boat. But No, he was just being a good samaritan. Good for him!

There are many legal issues which seem to be in play in the case of the OP. But perhaps this is where the law is not sensible and people seem to be inhibited from doing the right thing for fear of being sued. That may be true, but it's a sorry state of affairs. Heck we're not talking about aiding a car crash victim and doing more harm than good. This was a boat which could have EASILY been re anchored... or rafted until the owner returned. No big deal.

The fees to tow a boat 1/2 mile inside the pond is thivvery. FULL STOP. I'd love to see that guy's towboat sinking. I'd give him a taste of his own medicine. People need to HELP each other at sea... not exploit each other.

And to the idiot who mentioned that the OP must have been real flush with cash because he was anchored in BI on July 4th needs to show some humility and stop reaching for his own stupid notions of who boats, where and when.

I would take this up with the Harbor Master and the AG in RI. This was nothing sort of abuse and exploitation. That sort of thing should be the franchise of the Harbor Master.... and the tow guy should stick to working outside the pond.
You sir are way out of line...wishing that on anyone...especially a business you probably know as little about as the rest of the maritime world...

While I agree the world tuned upside down when the USCG had to give up towing and the court system and liability issues got out of hand...you have no call to take potshots at the towing business.

Those same assistance towers account for many rescues each year...I hope you never need the aid of one that has read your posts.
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Old 19-07-2013, 08:12   #90
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Focusing on the 1/2 hour that the OP claims it took the towboat operator to move his boat to the emergency mooring is misleading.

With a little Googling, I found Safe/Sea, a company that offers boat towing services in Block Island. They state that towing for non-members runs $200-400 per hour, and that the charges begin when the tow boat leaves it's dock and end when it returns.

I would imagine that the higher rate would apply on the July 4th holiday. If so, that would represent an hour and forty minutes for the tow boat to proceed to the scene, secure the boat in question, tow it to the emergency mooring, secure it there, attach the cable to the steering, and return to base. Perhaps there was a charge for use of the emergency mooring, as well. One could hardly expect it to be free.

With all that, the $675 seems a bit steep, but not out of the question, and certainly not "piracy".
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