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Old 18-07-2013, 02:50   #1
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Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

During a recent crowded July 4'th week at Block Island, we had relocated our 27 ft. Ericson to the Northeast edge of the anchorage. The anchor held for 5 hours until we got pumped out and went ashore. Taking the launch back, we were astonished to find our vessel GONE! The launch driver suggested looking at the emergency moorings, and there she was. The towboat service driver gave me a photo of our boat tied up to the stern of a nearby vessel since our boat had dragged anchor. There was a huge cable around our wheel, and the cost to ransom our boat.....$675! From the metadata associated with the photo and the time on the paper on our boat, it was clear the towboat driver spent a total of 25 minutes to "earn" his money.

I had used a very short scope, and apparently the rising tide, loss of weight from the holding tank being emptied and 2 people leaving pulled the anchor loose. The short scope was necessary due to the crowded anchorage, but clearly it was too short.

HOWEVER, I believe that the laws of salvage, under which apparently the company can charge insane fees, would apply to the original salvager only. The boat that grabbed my dragging-anchor vessel is the salvager, and after it was secured by him to his stern my boat was no longer in peril. The appearance of the tow boat driver and his subsequent charge to me of $675 is simply an outrageous towing charge, has no relevance to the laws of salvage, and cannot be legitimately levied (I believe).

Anyone feel that my argument has validity, or am I wasting my time and energy fighting this? Thanks in advance!

Tanksalot
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Old 18-07-2013, 03:04   #2
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Have you contacted the other boat to find out who did what ? If you get something in writing from them to list who did what, then that may be useful if you choose to debate the bill, either in person, or in court.

Do you have a copy of the tow boat rate schedule to confirm how they justify charging so much ?
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Old 18-07-2013, 06:03   #3
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

I haven't been able to locate the other boat. When we went back there the next day the boat was gone. However, there was a nearby boat who saw everything and was very surprised to see us towed. He emailed me and said, basically, "you dragged, he tied your boat up, both boats appeared safe and stable, and then the tow boat showed up and towed your boat away".
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Old 18-07-2013, 06:11   #4
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

It sounds like the tow boat was phoned by someone to come and collect the boat. It could have been the owner that lassoed your boat or someone else in the anchorage that felt the drifting boat was a hazard.

If you have insurance then you may want to call them. Some insurance policies have a towing provision and their insurance adjusters are experienced at negotiating with would-be salvers.
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Old 18-07-2013, 06:12   #5
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Do you not have tow insurance? It sucks but I think this is a case of paying the fees and being thankful your boat did not damage another vessel or end up in a much more precarious spot. It could have been a much, much more expensive lesson.

I am sorry this happened and yeah $675 stings but boat towing is expensive, which is why so many of us pony up the money for tow insurance. Ever had a car towed? That isn't exactly cheap either.
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Old 18-07-2013, 06:26   #6
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Block Island has a process that they have been using for a long time for towing dragging or loose boats. It is expensive, but it works and saves a lot of boats from a more expensive grounding.

Sheet happens. Your insurance should cover the towing cost.

We alway anchor at Block with a 7 to 1 scope. If we can not get that scope we leave for a less crowed location.

The North East corner of the pond is all grass and it sucks to anchor there in the first place. Your short scope anchor was just stuck in grass. You never had a chance.
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Old 18-07-2013, 06:44   #7
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

Have a friend with a Westsail 32 and house on Block Island so he's over there frequently during the season. He has warned me about the bad holding in many parts of the harbor and winds that kick up with little warning that end up sending boats all over Salt Pond.

Seems like an unfortunate and expensive lesson but probably nothing to be done but pay the piper and move on.
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Old 18-07-2013, 07:23   #8
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We anchored in the north east section of great salt pond. Pleanty of scope no issues, but I would agree the holding was not great. I clearly didn't get the deep thick black mud that is available in other parts of the pond
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Old 18-07-2013, 07:37   #9
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

practice anchoring in every kind of bottom...good luck.

once tow companies get involved, prices soar..best defense is good technique and excellent tackle.
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Old 18-07-2013, 08:12   #10
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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Originally Posted by tanksalot View Post

Anyone feel that my argument has validity, or am I wasting my time and energy fighting this? Thanks in advance!

Tanksalot
Turning to this board for legal advice is a bad idea. If you want to be efficient with your time and energy, call your insurance company and if you get no relief from them, a lawyer.

There are many things that could have happened to your boat when it came loose that would make that fee look like a bargain.

Clearly you've never had your boat towed before without towing insurance. It's a few hundred dollars for them to simply show up and is many dollars per mile after that. The figure they are charging you is not out of line. It's not just "25 minutes of work", it's the entire company infrastructure to support the availability of the service.
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Old 18-07-2013, 08:13   #11
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

I would not complain. You were responsible for securing your boat properly. You're lucky you didn't damage another boat, then you might have been responsible for a lot more than the towing charge.
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Old 18-07-2013, 08:25   #12
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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I would not complain. You were responsible for securing your boat properly. You're lucky you didn't damage another boat, then you might have been responsible for a lot more than the towing charge.
That's about my thoughts as well. $675 is a drop in the bucket compared to what your costs could have been.

And in regards to the 25 minutes spent "earning" (you used the quotes) the money, there's a lot of prep that goes into successful tow and salvage. The tow vessel needs to be in terrific shape, the captain is licensed and regularly tested and drug screened, and the tow gear itself has to be replaced pretty frequently.
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Old 18-07-2013, 08:27   #13
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

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I would not complain. You were responsible for securing your boat properly. You're lucky you didn't damage another boat, then you might have been responsible for a lot more than the towing charge.
+1!

Lets see: the OP left his boat with inadequate scope in a crowded anchorage with poor holding, and he's able to walk away for under $1,000, hopefully having learned an important lesson about being a responsible boat owner in the process.

He got lucky, I'd say.
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Old 18-07-2013, 08:37   #14
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I would be thankful and gladly pay the towing fee.

You got off light.

You should also be thankful that someone call a tow service and that they took the job.

Your boat could have wound up severely damaged and it could have caused damage to others.
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Old 18-07-2013, 08:38   #15
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Re: Block Island Anchor Drag/Tow $$$

be happy that the other cruiser kept you from going onto the shore!
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