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Old 25-06-2011, 14:23   #16
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

I stand corrected, Rebel Heart... even though we referred to our vessels as towboats we were probably technically incorrect. It was used universally on the west coast, at least north of the border from the 50's through the 70's, and perhaps still. For some reason, the towboats that worked the Fraser River towing booms to sawmills and some barge traffic were referred to as tugs while those that were working salt water doing the same work were called tow boats... go figure.
We referred amongs ourselves to tow boats and tow boaters bu it may have just been a local custom. Kinda like liberals being 'progressives' or right wingnuts being conservatives.
Newt has the right idea not to get into the game for the opportunity to try and kill yourself but to provide a service to the recreational boater in need of assistance. Not sure you get to pick and choose sometimes, though... Capt Phil
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Old 25-06-2011, 15:39   #17
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

NO!!!!NONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONONO NNOOONOOOOOOOOOO
Dont do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Unless you have enough money that it doesnt matter what happens business wise Just Say NO!!!!!!
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Old 25-06-2011, 17:43   #18
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
. . . while I am thinking about a US boat towing or Seatow type operation. Basicly handling the situations like I talked about earilier, were people ran out of gas or had a mechanical breakdown. Or have to transport their boat, and the durn thing won't run. I would be willing to handle small salvage- but nothing on the Columbia banks during a storm...
Problem is that there are already a lot of "independents" trying to do the same thing as TowBoatUS and SeaTow. And they starve because they cannot offer the "towing insurance" deals that those two franchises offer. How can you survive when the "biggies for $100/year +/- offer unlimited towing/services.
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Old 26-06-2011, 11:22   #19
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Sea Tow in my area has a couple of good sized boats, ex: Corp of Engineers boats. Besides towing and salvage they also do provisioning runs for tugs, ferry inspectors, etc. back and forth, and other commercial work suitable for small craft. My marina has several boats doing commercial work from 'research' to soundings and magnetic surveys. Quite a few for such a small place. I presume it is due to the current dredging operations.
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Old 29-09-2011, 16:38   #20
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

hi i am a towboat us captain in fl and i would like help you here
ther is alot to what we do us and seatow it is a lifestyle not a job and not all fun and games it is high stress and paying attention all the time . it i rewarding to know your actions may have saved someones life and we have many times . as to the work in a hole diving towing salvage fuel drops battery jumps sar or search and rescue and more we both do alot all of witch you will have to be certified in and train also oil spills' fuel spills and fires if a boat is broken anything can happen .
to start a company takes money as we are all sub to a corp so you need your own insurance for you and your employees . tho your employees are subs to you you have to cover use while we are at work for you . and you need at least two captains and two mates to start due to regulations . we are only paid for the time on the water and boat maintanning . witch is ongoing at all times there are weekly and monthly checks yearly and they are looked upon by the uscg so no screwing around or it could cost your business and good crew .
with all this being said get on with a seatow or boat us crew learn train and see if you like it if you do you will truly be happy than you have ever been . good luck and wright back this is just an intro i can tell you alot more about this just don feel like typing to the world anymore lol
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Old 29-09-2011, 17:06   #21
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

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hi i am a towboat us captain in fl and i would like help you here
ther is alot to what we do us and seatow it is a lifestyle not a job and not all fun and games it is high stress and paying attention all the time . it i rewarding to know your actions may have saved someones life and we have many times . as to the work in a hole diving towing salvage fuel drops battery jumps sar or search and rescue and more we both do alot all of witch you will have to be certified in and train also oil spills' fuel spills and fires if a boat is broken anything can happen .
to start a company takes money as we are all sub to a corp so you need your own insurance for you and your employees . tho your employees are subs to you you have to cover use while we are at work for you . and you need at least two captains and two mates to start due to regulations . we are only paid for the time on the water and boat maintanning . witch is ongoing at all times there are weekly and monthly checks yearly and they are looked upon by the uscg so no screwing around or it could cost your business and good crew .
with all this being said get on with a seatow or boat us crew learn train and see if you like it if you do you will truly be happy than you have ever been . good luck and wright back this is just an intro i can tell you alot more about this just don feel like typing to the world anymore lol
I had an interesting tow once from Boat US after my engine overheated -- in extremely turbulent waters, with 3k of current against me, waves on my rear quarter, and with a big wind shift, lots of wind just off my bow, say 10 o'clock. It was like motoring through a giant, front-loading washing machine to go through a very narrow bascule bridge -- only one side even opened.

Then the engine overheated.

Boat US towed us through to a safe dock, but before the captain did that, he took me on a bit of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride, zig-zagging through all this rough water. I think he saw an ... ahem ... "older" woman at the helm and wanted to make sure I could steer adequately for the circumstances, which I judged to be somewhat treacherous (I said my four years have been action-packed!)

Apparently I passed the test, because he took us through. I thought he showed very good judgment and I believe he would have tested whoever was at the wheel at the time. I think he also sized my boat up as tender (it is). I was very impressed with him.
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Old 29-09-2011, 17:14   #22
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

I take my hat off to you towboats captains. I have seen a few in action and it doesn't appear to be all glory and glamor. The guys I saw were hauling log booms and chip barges. I can only imagine it being a lot like long distance trucking.
We were tied off at a fuel dock on the Fraser river when this big tug glided in ahead of us and before it came to a stop, three young hands leapt onto the dock and two went for the dock lines and the third ran for the fuel hose. I think it took them all of thirty seconds to secure the boat and start fueling. These guys were ballet in motion but I guess in your business time IS money.
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Old 29-09-2011, 17:19   #23
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

If not a towboat how about a water courier service?
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Old 29-09-2011, 17:23   #24
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

Manning boats 24/7/365 is hard on owners and even tougher on captains.

I work for one of the largest franchises (10 years) and am the only captain that has lasted past 5 years or so....most burn out or want a job that resembles more normal life. Most find that the seasonal work/money and the demanding standby schedule just isn't worth it.

I'm semi-retired and because the franchise is up north...I plan to start cruising south in the dead of winter for 3-4 months when the action is really slow...it actually works better for the company that way as the other capts get a little more work. If it wasn't for that plan...I doubt I would have lasted this long either.

The trick is to get with or develope a company that gets lots of other work and can supoort a in depth group of captains that balance scheduled work with standby assistance towing...otherwise...plan on marrying your towing vessel.
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Old 29-09-2011, 17:31   #25
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Re: tow boat captain: good job?

When you work the boat day in and day out in all weather, sea and current conditions, you can get pretty expert at it. It is definitely not a glamor job and can be dangerous as hell! I worked the Fraser for a couple of years and during freshet, it can be pretty exciting as I recall. Scrambling up a brambled filled slope lugging a shackle on the end of a steel cable looking for the tie down is a young man's sport, believe me.
I remember when the camps up coast began putting up bundle booms rather than flat booms which were easier to handle in heavier weather because we could run in higher seas and not lose logs out from under the boom sticks. My kids tell me I should write a book... I don't miss the work but sure miss the characters I worked with in the PNW.
Now a lot of the green timber goes on barge to China and Japan, I understand. Capt Phil
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Old 29-09-2011, 17:50   #26
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Re: Tow Boat Captain: Good Job ?

Something just occured to me. In Canada if you are aware someone is in trouble you have legal obligation to render assistance if you can without putting your vessel or crew at risk. I suspect that doesn't just apply to Canada.

How does this work for tow operators?
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Old 29-09-2011, 18:26   #27
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Re: Tow Boat Captain: Good Job ?

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Something just occured to me. In Canada if you are aware someone is in trouble you have legal obligation to render assistance if you can without putting your vessel or crew at risk. I suspect that doesn't just apply to Canada.

How does this work for tow operators?
The rules of the road define assistance as standing by so no one drowns (vessel/crew in danger of being lost). You are not required to provide any other assistance...such as towing, dewatering, firefighting, first aid may be one of the few...but on your vessel if able...etc..etc...

In the US...I don't know of any legislation that reqires more than just standing by.

Assistance towers will do almost anything in their power, training, experience and equipment to help...it's in their nature...if salvage is appropriate...they can ask for salvage compensation (actually anyone can).
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Old 29-09-2011, 19:11   #28
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Re: Tow Boat Captain: Good Job ?

Right, so the requirement is take them aboard if the ship is in danger but not neccessarily to move the boat out of danger. That makes sense.
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Old 29-09-2011, 19:55   #29
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Re: Tow Boat Captain: Good Job ?

I am glad someone posted the difference between Tugboat and TowBoat.

I find the different names/purpose to be fascinating.

I have worked on Ship Docking Tugs and the occasional offshore tow.
BTW I was the only one on board who ENJOYED being off shore....I guess it was because I was the only one in the company that owned a sailboat
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Old 29-09-2011, 22:00   #30
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Re: Tow Boat Captain: Good Job ?

I kinda get the feeling that the terms are interchangable, Chief... just depends on where you grew up and worked on them. Rebel Heart straightened me out on the terminology in a previous post on the current US usage.
As far as Hummingway's question goes, I recall that Canada had the equivalent of a 'Good Samaritan' law that extended to their coastal waters. Growing up and working commercial vessels for a number of years in the 50's, 60's and 70's, we never fussed much about legality. If another vessel was in trouble, you just helped out. Folks requesting assistance were usually other commercial operators in those days and we towed several into port as well as being towed ourselves a couple of times. There were some $ changed hands for the effort but nothing substantial. Usually a few beers, dinner and fuel costs. We all looked out for each other out there in those days because you never knew which end of towline you might end up on.
In the US now I understand that there is a distinction of whether or not a vessel in distress passes you a line, or you, as a towboat operator, does the passing. This determines acceptance of certain liability. Perhaps someone in the business can shed light on this.
Any towboat operator worth his/her salt would want to ensure that the tow is set up properly with adequate hawse, correct bridle connection and length/size of tow line. Each vessel is different and rides differently. With any sea running, the towboat operator should be responsible for connection at BOTH ends of the tow. I've seen some real messes out there with folks trying to be good samaritans and screwing things up because they didn't have the experience to put together a proper set up, towing too fast or too slow.
Salvage is a different case entirely. Unless the ship has been abandoned with no one on board, there are protocols to follow to establish salvage rights. In the case of abandonment, if you can get a line on her, she is yours, I believe. Not being a wheelhouse lawyer, I've been involved in four abandoned salvages, two at sea and two pulling other vessels off the rocks on the BC coast. In each abandonment case we got around 75-80% of the salvage value. Never had the sitiuation arise in the US but believe there is a pretty well established body of maratime law covering these situations.
Hope this answers a few questions on an interesting subject... Capt Phil
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