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Old 29-03-2011, 18:41   #16
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Re: Towing??

Kettle, agree on all points. When I grew up, if you needed a tow, you just waved a towel or something and someone would bring you back. Not any more, and like you say, in part due to liability. And, I agree that the towing companies have created their own monster, as folks won't even spend 10 seconds trying to figure out what is wrong. We get phone calls all the time like this: "Yes, we're stuck out here and our engine won't start (lots of voices in the background)... I don't know, it just died and now we're stuck, please hur .... oh wait ... never mind. It just started. Thanks!"

And, I show up to a 'jump start' job. Ask the customer "what happens when you turn the key?" Answer: "Nothing". "Ok, jiggle the shifter and try again." .... VROOM! Starts right up.
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Old 29-03-2011, 18:54   #17
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Re: Towing??

It's like any other insurance -- spreading the risk around. TowBoatUS can charge $159 a year because they know that maybe 1 in 30 (my guess) of their boaters will need a tow in any given year. So you just have to ask yourself if you are feeling lucky. And you don't even have to be particularly lucky -- just be the among the 29 in 30.

I have had TowBoatUS, and I have gone without. Lately I've decided to go without.

Reminds me of the anecdote about Warren Buffett going golfing with three friends. One of the guys offered to pay $10,000 to anyone who hit a hole-in-one, if everyone would give him $10 at the start of the game. Buffett declined the bet. He would rather keep his $10, and he knew the odds of a hole-in-one were slim.
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Old 29-03-2011, 19:28   #18
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Re: Towing??

I have Towboat US insurance, but I question if I'd ever use it. A decade ago, I lost my engine near Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas. I didn't even have a dinghy outboard, yet I manage to sail my way back to the U.S. where I purchased a 3.5 hp dinghy outboard that pushed my boat (slowly) up the Okechobee waterway and back to my marina/boatyard (Indiantown)

Last year, when seriously grounded, a motorboat eventually came by and helped me kedge off, though the tide would have lifted my off eventually anyways. I'm convinced tow services are often more of a convenience than a necessity.
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Old 29-03-2011, 20:23   #19
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Re: Towing??

I have never needed it. I have two engines.
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Old 29-03-2011, 20:29   #20
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Re: Towing??

I have, and have used, Towboat U.S. Usually, I sail as close as I can to shore and then have them give me a tow, if necessary. Could I sail the rest of the way, perhaps. But for one thing, they know where to take me to get the repairs I need. Besides towing they provide local knowledge.

Both TowBoat and SeaTow are, in my opinion, a bit of a scam. Their hourly rates, from dock to dock, are phenomenal. I mean $150 to $175/hr. this means that even the smallest service is likely equal to the annual premium. People are effectively being blackmailed into buying coverage. Pay us $100/yr or the first time you need us it will cost many times that.

Unfortunately, the captains don't get to see too much of this. Many that I've met are simply building sea time for a coast guard upgrade. I wish to emphasize, the individual captain's I've met are terrific people that have gone the extra mile. They have my gratitude and admiration. My comment applies more to corporate policy.

As to being more of a convenience than a necessity, no real argument. Many still have to be sure to be back ashore by a certain time to keep a job. Also, watching on the weekend, the tow services do a great business with the little put-puts out of the high and dry. Most of those boats see water perhaps once or twice a month and the owners have less knowledge than might be hoped for. I know, they keep using my dinghy as a fender!!

Rich
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Old 29-03-2011, 20:33   #21
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Re: Towing??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post

Reminds me of the anecdote about Warren Buffett going golfing with three friends. One of the guys offered to pay $10,000 to anyone who hit a hole-in-one, if everyone would give him $10 at the start of the game. Buffett declined the bet. He would rather keep his $10, and he knew the odds of a hole-in-one were slim.
Golf Digest reported in 1999 that the odds of an amateur making a hole in one is 1 in 12,750. If you pay 10 dollars and the return is 10,000 then that is 1 dollar for a possible 1000 dollar return. This makes the odds 12,750/1000. The chance for the person who made the offer of coming out ahead is 12.75 to 1. This is truly a sucker bet making Buffett correct. If the offer was increased to $127,500 for getting a hole in one then it would be break even odds.
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Old 29-03-2011, 20:39   #22
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Re: Towing??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lancerbye View Post
How often do you plan on using this service. In 40 + years of boating I have never used a tow. Maybe it is because I am cheap or that I was always somewhat prepared to do things that needed doing. I have overhauled and rebuilt stuff in some very unusual places, had equipment failures that I repaired myself. I have always felt that spending the time and money on being prepared was a better investment than an insurance. With the money I have saved over the years I could afford a big tow bill.

This is what they count on 1000's of people pay 200/yr and only a few hundreds use it. If you become a muilti caller they just cancel you. SO do not use it for your buddy's boat or you may not have it when you need it.
Its all about group coverage.
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Old 13-04-2011, 06:16   #23
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Re: Towing??

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Originally Posted by cabo_sailor View Post
Both TowBoat and SeaTow are, in my opinion, a bit of a scam. Their hourly rates, from dock to dock, are phenomenal. I mean $150 to $175/hr. this means that even the smallest service is likely equal to the annual premium.
Or, in a less cynical analysis, the annual premium is a raging deal. For less than the cost of one hour, you can get an unlimited number of hours.

The non-member hourly rates are what they are for some very good economic reasons, not due to some scam. The towboats are a large investment, sometimes well over $100,000. Operators need to get a return on that investment, and some areas might only do a few 100 hours of towing per year. There are fixed costs like fuel, captains and liability insurance. There is maintenance, storage, shelves filled with spare parts, trucks and buildings. Towboats might sit for days, or even weeks with out generating any income, yet they must be ready to go 24/7.

Furthermore, this hourly rate is way way below the $1441/hr that USCG charges for their Small Response Boats. Open this PDF and scroll to the first chart:
http://www.uscg.mil/directives/ci/70...CI_7310_1M.pdf



Quote:
People are effectively being blackmailed into buying coverage. Pay us $100/yr or the first time you need us it will cost many times that.
You should be careful who you accuse of extortion in public when you don't have any facts to support your claim. No one is forced to join anything.

Quote:
Unfortunately, the captains don't get to see too much of this. Many that I've met are simply building sea time for a coast guard upgrade.
I've been in the business for 18 years, and I know most of the captains in the country. Your observation is generally incorrect for the majority of the captains, who already hold a 100GT license; assistance towing will not count toward any sea time required to upgrade beyond that rating. Captain turnover is more a function of the low rate of pay compared with the long hours and the grind of being on call 24/7.
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Old 24-01-2012, 13:25   #24
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Re: Towing??

+1 for the tow boat captains! You never need them until you do, then they are the most welcome sight you can ever see.
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Old 24-01-2012, 15:10   #25
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Re: Towing??

My best insurance is a good kedge anchor ready at the stern and a dinghy capable of hauling the anchor and rode against a strong tide to deep water, Ive pulled myself off of several "salvage" situations with this setup over the years. The latest was at the mouth of the Edisto when I had some rummy take the watch for a minute while I readied a few things for offshore. He ran off the channel and onto rocks almost immediately. The tide was running so hard there was a whirlpool on the downcurrent side. Managed to motor and kedge myself off on a falling tide. Kick myself for giving him the helm but I listened to his tales of decades of boating experience. Never again will I trust give helm to someone unless I trust him/her implicitly.
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Old 24-01-2012, 15:34   #26
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Re: Towing??

Kedge wouldn't have helped when we lost our steering forty miles off the coast of Florida. Worked on it for an hour, the Coast Guard lost patience with us and called TowBoatUS for us. Kevin Miller, the most professional tow captain I have ever seen, towed us into Port Canaveral. Couple of days later a less professional brought in a boat with a fuel line problem that had been damaged during the tow. Only time we've ever needed a tow in 20 years and hope never to need another. But we were two grnad worth of glad we had insurance.
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