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Old 19-07-2013, 08:23   #91
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
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.
You have a confirmation bias... you're in the business. Your response needs to be read with this in mind.

I have have used assistance at a few times in my 28 yes and over 40,000 miles of cruising including a local tow service and am well aware of how this works. I've seen many sailors come to the aid of a distressed vessel whether to protect their own or to save the ship.

Thank you for your opinions... I'm just fine.
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Old 19-07-2013, 08:37   #92
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
You have a confirmation bias... you're in the business. Your response needs to be read with this in mind.

I have have used assistance at a few times in my 28 yes and over 40,000 miles of cruising including a local tow service and am well aware of how this works. I've seen many sailors come to the aid of a distressed vessel whether to protect their own or to save the ship.

Thank you for your opinions... I'm just fine.
Not really...I have more than just "working man's opinion" on the subject'

After 23 years of doing it on a pretty minimal salary for "free rescues" in a different job, I certainly understand both sides of the coin in addition to the over 50 years of boating and helping others as a fellow boater.

In 11 years of towing I've only had a handful of complaints about the costs...especially from people who see me all the time, know the hours I work, etc..etc...

Out of that handful of complaints...ya know...it's usually not the boat owner/operator....it's some white collar friend who has a stick up their butt about blue collar prices and they shoot off their mouth about it. The owner usually is more embarrassed at that point because they consider the source.

The bottom line is the OP can fight it...but it's a losing battle because unless like I posted before, he can prove some dastardly deed behind his back between the tow operator and the other boat that tied him off. Everything is well within generally accepted guidelines and has been for over 20 years now the assistance towing has been around.
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Old 19-07-2013, 08:45   #93
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I'm with both of you I think the charge is to high. Puts a bad name to the private service tow guys. tow company should provide a detailed bill.
Salvage fees usually apply when unusual means are needed to secure the vessel. A boat secured in harbor does not meet that. There are costs that are more then the time of the tow. Pretty sure that if you could find a mooring on the block for the 4th its going to cost. If it was free everyone would go and short scope anchor and use the emergency mooring.
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Old 19-07-2013, 08:45   #94
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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.
In what world do you consider this a wind fall? You have a boat that probably cost around $75K, commercial insurance that is probably 10% of your estimated billings a year, you have to pay someone with a captain's license, day for dock space, maintain equipment, fuel, etc. That could have been the only tow that weekend, in which case he probably lost money on the day. And for that he get's called a pirate, crook, etc.

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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!
Newport does have good harbor masters and they are nice people, but they also know the law and regulations. They aren't allowed to tow boats unless there is danger to the people on the boats. I bet the harbor master in Block Island is well aware of this practice. The Salt Pond has specific salvage/tow moorings because they deal with this so much.

The fact that you have never seen a tow boat operating in Newport is strange. There are many tow boats operating in that area including Bay Watch. They towed a guy I knows boat in when he lost his prop (don't ask, he is like the keystone cops of sailings sometimes). He has a nice custom made, planning hull with a carbon fiber stick etc. Bay Watch got about $15K from his insurance on a salvage claim for the tow.

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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.
If you reanchored the boat and it dragged again, this time damaging the $1 million Oyster, who's insurance gets the bill? Does your insurance even cover you? If it goes aground, are you sure the owner won't hold you accountable? Did he even leave his keys in so you could reanchor?

When we cruise and anchor I do two things before I leave to go ashore. First, I leave my seacock open and my keys in my ignition. Second, I tell friends in the anchorage (or make new friends by asking them to keep an eye on my boat and inviting them over for a sundowner when I get back) that I am going ashore and left my keys in the ignition if anything happens. I haven't dragged yet, but I am sure the day will come.

Also, the expectation that the good Samaritan would be comfortable with another boat rafted up to them is just crazy. There are lots of reasons to not be ok with this. When are they coming back? Is my anchor going to now drag? Will I now swing different then my neighbor and hit him? Will his poorly set anchor tangle with mine? It's not "no big deal"!

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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.
That's some pretty harsh language. I am sure there are people who would say the same about your profession if they were uneducated about it. You really should do some more research before you start throwing around accusations like that and saying you would love to see someone's boat sink.

Quote:
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.
Agreed

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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.
Again, the Harbor Master would likely find himself being sued by the local tow guys if he was routinely towing boats where the people were not in danger. That's not the responsibility of the harbor masters. The AG would likely side with the tow company because $675 is a more than reasonable cost.
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Old 19-07-2013, 08:57   #95
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by defjef View Post
You have a confirmation bias... you're in the business. Your response needs to be read with this in mind.

I have have used assistance at a few times in my 28 yes and over 40,000 miles of cruising including a local tow service and am well aware of how this works. I've seen many sailors come to the aid of a distressed vessel whether to protect their own or to save the ship.

Thank you for your opinions... I'm just fine.
So out of curiosity, what do you think is a fair hourly rate for a tow boat service? How much to you think should be charged?

[By the way, I am not really sure that would be a confirmation bias. It would be just a straight bias. He did not site any outside sources that only supported his side of the argument while ignoring contradictory evidence or information. And he did disclose that information right off the bat.}
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:10   #96
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
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.
Totally correct. Safe/Sea is the company that did the towing. The company chose to set up an operation located at Block Island on the Salt Pond, because they felt it would be a good investment, I guess.

The photo provided me by the towboat driver had a time of 7:53 PM associated with it. At that time my boat was tied to the stern of the Samaritan's boat. The note left on my boat had a time of 8:10 PM written on it. To say that it only took them 20 minutes would be unrealistic.

But if he left his dock at 7:40, and left my boat at the mooring at 8:15 to 8:30, that would be approximately 0.75 hours of towing. Using the $400 figure, the charge should have been $300. Add to that the value of the use of the emergency mooring overnight ($100 fine for unauthorized use, painted on the mooring ball), and the numbers get close.

The argument could be made, legally, that he had no right to board my boat and raise my anchor since it was not in peril. It could also be said that he had no legal right to tow it. On both counts it appears I might prevail, might not.

The other question to weigh is the benefit of just letting it go, paying the bill, learning an expensive lesson and getting on with life. That seems to be the sentiment of the majority of people on this forum.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:17   #97
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That's the number I was thinking 450 to 550 with the prime time mooring. Add on the island is expensive. Look at grocery costs etc...very high cost of living. They are probably near though it seems high. I would try to negotiate it harder. Maybe you skin off another 100 bucks. Still hurts. Don't feed the wolf unless its absolute need.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:18   #98
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post
Totally correct. Safe/Sea is the company that did the towing. The company chose to set up an operation located at Block Island on the Salt Pond, because they felt it would be a good investment, I guess.

The photo provided me by the towboat driver had a time of 7:53 PM associated with it. At that time my boat was tied to the stern of the Samaritan's boat. The note left on my boat had a time of 8:10 PM written on it. To say that it only took them 20 minutes would be unrealistic.

But if he left his dock at 7:40, and left my boat at the mooring at 8:15 to 8:30, that would be approximately 0.75 hours of towing. Using the $400 figure, the charge should have been $300. Add to that the value of the use of the emergency mooring overnight ($100 fine for unauthorized use, painted on the mooring ball), and the numbers get close.

The argument could be made, legally, that he had no right to board my boat and raise my anchor since it was not in peril. It could also be said that he had no legal right to tow it. On both counts it appears I might prevail, might not.

The other question to weigh is the benefit of just letting it go, paying the bill, learning an expensive lesson and getting on with life. That seems to be the sentiment of the majority of people on this forum.
If your boat dragged far enough to come alongside another vessel...I doubt that ANY court or jury of your peers is going to have difficulty in a trained professional coming to the scene and taking charge....I am only GUESSING the other boat called someone to ask WTF am I supposed to do with this boat...but I'm betting it's a good guess. Once ANY official is involved...calling the towing company would just be a routine call....if it wasn't directly to them.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:32   #99
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by JK n Smitty View Post
So out of curiosity, what do you think is a fair hourly rate for a tow boat service? How much to you think should be charged?

[By the way, I am not really sure that would be a confirmation bias. It would be just a straight bias. He did not site any outside sources that only supported his side of the argument while ignoring contradictory evidence or information. And he did disclose that information right off the bat.}
Hard to say what's a fair rate... not more than $200/hr for that operation and I can't see how this took even 2 hrs start to finish to drive from the dock to the boat.. tie along side and tow it back in (close to their own dock) on a town mooring.

I am not making excuses for the seamanship of the OP. You don't anchor with short scope and leave your boat to party unless you are certain your anchor is well set. BTW I leave my cell phone on the companionway in case some one needs to contact me.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:33   #100
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post
But if he left his dock at 7:40, and left my boat at the mooring at 8:15 to 8:30, that would be approximately 0.75 hours of towing. Using the $400 figure, the charge should have been $300. Add to that the value of the use of the emergency mooring overnight ($100 fine for unauthorized use, painted on the mooring ball), and the numbers get close.

The argument could be made, legally, that he had no right to board my boat and raise my anchor since it was not in peril. It could also be said that he had no legal right to tow it. On both counts it appears I might prevail, might not.

The other question to weigh is the benefit of just letting it go, paying the bill, learning an expensive lesson and getting on with life. That seems to be the sentiment of the majority of people on this forum.
As stated over and over and over, the numbers are not out of line. And you just agreed. Finally.

It appears from the second paragraph that you have also considered suing them. I'm speechless.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:37   #101
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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If your boat dragged far enough to come alongside another vessel...I doubt that ANY court or jury of your peers is going to have difficulty in a trained professional coming to the scene and taking charge....I am only GUESSING the other boat called someone to ask WTF am I supposed to do with this boat...but I'm betting it's a good guess. Once ANY official is involved...calling the towing company would just be a routine call....if it wasn't directly to them.
I've been the victim of 5 rafted power boats drag down onto my anchor chain in Newport and it was blowing at least 25. I called the Harbor master. I couldn't get to the boats for one... and if I could the forces were more than I could handle. My anchor rode fouled by these jerks held and there was no damage. The Harbor master cut the one anchor rode (rope) which was hooked on my and moved the boats up wind and set another one if I recall as the launch was bringing the partyers back. He told them to break the raft and anchor separately or pick up a mooring.

All's well that ends well. One guy lost his anchor.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:41   #102
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

I might add to this thread that I have lived three years anchored every night and have seen it all and have a good feel for anchoring MY boat with MY tackle. Have I dragged? You betcha... mostly in eel grass like Cutty Hunk... but it's really the exception and I don't leave the boat unless I am confident that the anchor's well set. I don't think most weekend cruisers have enough experience with anchoring and many use rope rodes and no chain.
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Old 19-07-2013, 09:52   #103
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I have never seem a harbormaster do anything when a boat is in peril. They have always been way hands off. Do tell what harbormaster is willing to help and assist.
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Old 19-07-2013, 10:08   #104
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
1) If there is not room in the harbor to make a proper and safe anchor then the captain of the boat shall make to a harbor that allows for safe moorage or anchoring.

2) Once the Good Samaritan that saved your boat called the tow boat and then subsequently released your boat to the tow boat then the tow boat became the savior. That is maritime law and the tow boat knows all of them by heart.

3) Every business has over head. The tow boat needs fuel and maintenance. Those four yellow emergency moorings on Block Island cost thousands of dollars a year to permit and maintain.

4) Tow boat captains have to get paid an be on call 24/7 at considerable inconvenience to their family and friends. Remember you were having fun on July 4th while he was working.

5) Tow boat captains have to renew their captains license every 5 years at considerable time and expense to them

indeed. not to mention the months of not getting called they have.
the tow boat up here, docked 40' from me has not moved once in the past month. thou the owner did come over to start it and run it for 5 min the one day.
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Old 19-07-2013, 10:14   #105
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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It wasn't really a choice, but rather a confluence of circumstances.
You made a choice to anchor on BI on the 4th of July in less than optimal conditions. It was a choice...

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After anchoring with what I judged to be sufficient scope considering the crowded conditions, weather, wind and depth,
How did you "judge" this? Was it with actual math & numbers such as the max depth of water expected at high tide plus height from chock to bow and then comparing that to your marked for scope anchor rode for an accurate scope measurement? Which anchor did you choose for the bottom conditions? Which anchor did you choose for the short scope? Was this anchor designed for short scope? What was the actual scope? Did you know the bottom type you were anchoring in for the anchor you chose to use..?

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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.
That line reminds me of a statement I once overheard at a party

"I just happened to be at the head of a long line of traffic."


Ah....... you CAUSED the traffic... He had no indication he caused that loooong line of traffic. Perhaps he had not looked at his speedometer, a good indicator, which would have told him he was 15 MPH under the speed limit..

So how did you set this short scope anchor to know your anchor was actually set? What technique for setting the anchor was employed? Did you back down and snub then back some more & let out more rode then snub again, then when you knew it was set apply a solid blast of reverse to test its holding?? Did you let it settle and self bury then back down? Did you just drop it to the bottom and cross your fingers? (The Gilligan toss)

Did you test it for set by backing down hard at full or near full reverse throttle before leaving the vessel unattended on known short scope with a rising tide? When you tested the set of your anchor before leaving the vessel unattended on short scope how well was it set? Could it hold full RPM in reverse without dragging? Did it ever un-set when you were checking & testing how well it was set?

Knowing all these answers and setting your anchor properly and testing how it is set periodically, in a well known anchorage for draggings, you would not need any "indication" of a problem you would know there is no problem.

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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.
What you admittedly did was already "grossly" irresponsible. Knowing you set it at short scope, on a rising tide & in well known anchorage for draggins, which you admittedly knew nothing about and then you left the boat.. We still don't know how you were "certain" it was set? As it turned out it was not set. How did this certainty arise? It sounds a bit like luck that you were good for five hours?


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At that time I had NO KNOWLEDGE of Block Island's notoriety as a poor holding ground, or I would have acted very differently.
This statement in and of itself is a prime example of acting in a negligent manner. You did not do your home work on where you chose to anchor and then anchored on short scope on a rising tide. We still have no idea how you determined you were even "set" or if you checked that at all and how. It is no secret that BI is notorious for anchor dragging incidents....


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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?
You have made excuses right in this post. "It wasn't really a choice" etc.. So lets say the tow boat calls it a tow instead of salvage and the fee is $675.00? Are you okay with it then?

I am not trying to be harsh here but what you did is a good thing to reflect on and figure out how you can do it more responsibly next time. Making excuses and not taking responsibility is not generally considered conducive to learning from a bad experience.

I think it is safe to call this a good learning lesson, we all should learn from our mistakes.. Pay the charge, move on and next time apply more responsibility in your anchoring practices. If this works out and the anchor sticks then you'll have $675.00 for beer money....

Hopefully you can now read up on anchoring techniques that will help you avoid such things as scope miscalculations, understanding tidal ranges, holding grounds, bottom conditions, how to set an anchor and know it is set, what type anchor to use for what bottom, which anchor performs well on short scope vs. which ones don't, chain vs. line rode etc. etc..

Sorry about the $675.00 charge, that's lots of beer money, but in this case I don't think it is unreasonable for BI... Heck it could have been MUCH worse.
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