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Old 29-03-2011, 14:48   #1
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Towing ??

Evening Folks, I've been reading about the two major towing services and have a few questions. From looking at their websites it seems that they have almost no limits to what they'll do for a yearly fee of less than $200.00. If I get grounded will they really do a soft ungrounding and will they really come 25 miles offshore just to get me. Here's what one website says.
Quote:
For those who want 100% of their towing bill paid for, no matter if the tow starts from drifting offshore, a soft ungrounding, from restricted use docks OR from your homedock to a repair facility, Unlimited Gold is the level to go with.
Is there a deductible that's I haven't read about? They'll even bring me fuel if I run out. Really......? From what I've read they'll do anything to keep you sailing even if it means a foot rub at the end of a hard day. What's the catch and why wouldn't everyone have this plan? Thanks --Bill--

How do I search for two words on this forum. I've tried the word1 + word2 and I've tried the "and". It seems as though I still get either word. I'm sure it's me but whassup?
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Old 29-03-2011, 15:21   #2
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Re: Towing??

I use Sea-Tow. A few years ago I needed a tow in Bermuda - long story.

Sea-Tow didn't have a tow in St. Georges but they paid 100% of the tow cost. can't beat that.
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Old 29-03-2011, 15:23   #3
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Re: Towing??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Burgette View Post
How do I search for two words on this forum. I've tried the word1 + word2 and I've tried the "and". It seems as though I still get either word. I'm sure it's me but whassup?
I use Google and specify cruisersforum.com for the website.

Alain
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Old 29-03-2011, 15:24   #4
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Re: Towing??

I have ToWBoat US and they have indeed been very good to me. I remember one ungrounding that took the entire night. The bill was $2500 and covered. There is no deductible. Two things. If you call them too frequently, they will cancel you. Second, be very, very sure if they come out to you that you are dealing with a tow job vs a salvage job. Whole new set of rules and costs. Remember, you have a towing contract, not salvage. As I recall, the fee for a salvage is 10% of the value of the boat. That is not covered.

Most of the operators I've dealt with have been most professional and friendly. Once I came into a strange anchorage (Pelican Bay at Cayo Costa FL) and my guide book didn't seem to match with what I saw. I saw a TowBoat U.S. boat anchored nearby and asked for info. He informed me that the Coast Guard had changed the day markers since the guide book had been printed and gave me the correct instructions. He then upped anchor and proceeded to guide me to a safe anchorage. There was no charge, he was probably bored, but he got a nice tip as a "thank you".

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Old 29-03-2011, 15:27   #5
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Re: Towing??

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.
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Old 29-03-2011, 15:33   #6
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Re: Towing??

I use towboatUS. Last June I needed a tow as I woke up one morning after anchoring overnight in New Teakettle Creek, Georgia and the fresh-water pump was conked out. After calling the 800 number, I was called by the boatUS towboat from Jekyl Island. The towboat came about 35 miles to pick me up and then towed me back to Jekyl (which was actually my destination for that day also). The unlimited insurance that I carry paid the entire bill (about $1500). My premium for the unlimited towing is less than $200/yr. The towboat captain also knew a mechanic, contacted him to come to the boat and give us an estimate also. Great Service! I was happy and will continue to insure with BoatUS.
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Old 29-03-2011, 15:45   #7
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Re: Towing??

Thanks for the quick replies and I'm amazed. That seems to be the lowest priced insurance on the planet.

Quote:
How often do you plan on using this service. In 40 + years of boating I have never used a tow.
You must be a great sailor, me, maybe not so, I don't know yet. I feel confident in my abilities to keep and engine running and I've rebuilt several V-drives. I've been into electronics/electricity since 1965 and frequently troubleshoot electronics down to a component level on circuit boards. However, most people here seem to indicate that they have been grounded a time or two and I'd much rather make repairs dockside while contemplating a brew instead of 10 miles offshore standing on my head in 10 foot seas. But that's just me.

It seems well worth it to me just to increase my odds of continuing my journey in a timely manner and it costs less than a six-pack a week. Even if you are a parsimonious person that sounds very reasonable.
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Old 29-03-2011, 15:55   #8
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Re: Towing??

I've been a professional assistance tower..... I buy the biggest policy I can. Even if I never use it (I have), it is worth the peace of mind! I even have towing on my hull insurance just for double extra coverage!
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Old 29-03-2011, 16:06   #9
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Re: Towing??

caveat: I work for a TowBOATUS contractor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Burgette View Post
Evening Folks, I've been reading about the two major towing services and have a few questions. From looking at their websites it seems that they have almost no limits to what they'll do for a yearly fee of less than $200.00.
There are limits, but for most instances, they don't apply. There is a mileage limit (different depending on local customs and company), and there are times like bad weather when they won't come, or the very busy times when you might wait a few hours for assistance. If your boat is in an emergency situation, your assistance membership probably doesn't cover that, and your hull insurance does.

People often ask me "whats the difference between emergency and non-emergency?" I explain it this way; if you call for a towboat, and we say "Ok sir, its very busy, but we will have a boat there in a 2 hours." If your reply is "fine, we be waiting" then its non-emergency and covered under a towing membership. If your reply is "We can't wait that long! We need help NOW!" then it probably is an emergency and not covered by a towing membership.

Quote:
If I get grounded will they really do a soft ungrounding
Both companies will do soft ungrounding for no charge. Their definitions of "soft aground" are not the same, but each is clearly spelled out in their membership agreements. I do plenty of free ungroundings every summer.

Quote:
and will they really come 25 miles offshore just to get me.
Actually, that is sort of the industry minimum. Many areas cover much further than that. TowBoat San Diego tows boats back from Ensenada MX all the time.

Quote:
Is there a deductible that's I haven't read about? They'll even bring me fuel if I run out. Really......?
Neither company charges any deductibles. Fuel drops are covered, but you have to pay for the cost of the fuel you take on.


Quote:
From what I've read they'll do anything to keep you sailing even if it means a foot rub at the end of a hard day.
SeaTow franchisees have to service their local members for free, so they might make an extra effort to solve your problem or coax you in before burning fuel they don't have to. BoatUS contractors get paid by the hour to service members, so they generally will be more anxious to respond right away and ask questions later. Both companies are dedicated to providing great service and retaining their members.


Quote:
What's the catch and why wouldn't everyone have this plan?
There is no catch, and darn near everyone does have a membership with one or the other. I see folks all the time who have both.
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Old 29-03-2011, 16:14   #10
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Re: Towing??

Also note that many yacht club members qualify for a $10 discount. The unlimited towing (not Gold) is $125 a year, $115 with a qualifying yacht club discount.
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Old 29-03-2011, 16:48   #11
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Re: Towing??

Thanks and one final question would be, what's a soft ungrounding. If they can just hook up a line and drag you off....is that it?
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Old 29-03-2011, 17:52   #12
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Re: Towing??

From SeaTow:
Quote:
Ungroundings: Sea Tow will provide free ungrounding assistance to covered vessels when all five of the following conditions apply, namely that the vessel: is in a stable, safe condition, is not in dangerous surf or inside a dangerous surf line, is surrounded by water on all sides, has some movement (i.e. rocking), and can be refloated upon initial arrival or at the next high tide in 15 minutes or less by one Sea Tow boat. Ungroundings that do not meet the foregoing criteria are consid- ered salvage services and are invoiced to the member as such.
From BoatUS:
Quote:
BoatUS establishes Towing-Ungrounding as ďany operation not involving immediate peril to the boat or to a legally protected marine environment and requiring only one towing vessel with lines attached to the grounded boat to refloat it or to the disabled boat to tow it. Salvage includes any operation involving immediate peril to the boat, the marine environment or the use of special salvage equipment (pumps, airbags, dredging equipment, cranes, etc.
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Old 29-03-2011, 18:12   #13
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Re: Towing??

The problem I see with towing, and I have purchased a policy when doing the ICW, is that the "soft grounding" is the one I can handle myself anyway. It is the salvage situations where I might need the towing help and then it doesn't cover it. I've been soft aground dozens of times and always managed to get myself off with relatively little trouble. Usually, the best thing to do is just to wait for the tide and you float off. In the ICW it could very well be helpful to have a tow if your engine should fail, particularly if you are in a crowded area where sailing would be difficult and there are currents, etc. Still, I have managed to maneuver boats for long distances under sail in very tight circumstances, or using the dinghy as a towboat, or even by kedging along. I too feel that for all the years I haven't purchased towing insurance I can afford a pretty big tow.
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Old 29-03-2011, 18:22   #14
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Re: Towing??

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The problem I see with towing, and I have purchased a policy when doing the ICW, is that the "soft grounding" is the one I can handle myself anyway.
You're absolutely correct. Soft aground usually means the boat would have gotten off at the next high tide anyway. However, what you see as a "problem", many more boaters see as a solution. They don't have the skills or patience to get themselves off, nor the skills to sail their boat to a dock.


And, this may shock you, but every summer, I have to tow sailboats with a disabled engine from way offshore when the wind is blowing ~ 20-30kts. Every time, we ask them if they can sail up near the harbor entrance and offer to meet them there. Well over half the time, the reply is "No way! It's too windy to sail."

Those folks love our service. And the occasional sailboat that has his jib sheet tightly and hopelessly wrapped around his rudder and into his wheel: can't power, can't sail, can't steer.
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Old 29-03-2011, 18:31   #15
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Re: Towing??

doug86, I absolutely agree that a lot of people require assistance, and I think a lot of people get good use out of their towing contracts, and I can see circumstances where it would be nice to have one myself. Like I said, when doing the ICW I up my towing insurance due to all the motoring required. But, on the other hand, I do see people calling for help when they really should be waiting for the tide or just putting out a kedge anchor to pull themselves off. Another thing that unfortunately is seen less and less is someone helping another boater who is aground. I have personally towed off many people, and once towed a boat for two days through the Dismal Swamp Canal. People are terrified of liability, but I think karma helps with that...
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